Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The "Hair Flip Thing"

That's what I've referred to this photo-opp as since the early days of when I taught photography at the Campfire Boys & Girls camp, Camp Sealth, on Vashon Island in the early 90's. In subsequent years, when the moment and light were right, and when my subjects had no idea how cold the water was, there have been so many memorable photo shoots.

It's not always hair flipping. I just love water, sunsets, reflections, frozen models, sand and shells and have photographed all kinds of folks at the beach or adjacent to it neck deep in the water (families, water polo player, collegiate swimmer, wakeboarders, random willing people etc.). Here's just a few shots from a senior portrait shoot last week.

Becca was relatively petrified to get into the water after watching her cousin Michaela freeze to death. After I showed her this photo though, she was glad she decided to go for it!
I first met Michaela when she was 8 months old, just a few years after I photographed her wonderful parents' wedding.

Happy Birthday Bob!

Today is Charles "Bob" Hirsch's birthday and this photograph is from a great day at Camp Goodtimes during the summer of 2003.
Clockwise from back left: Bob, Kitty, Ichiban (Bob's brother), Barley, Blondie, Daffy and Spring
I'm thinking of Bob today and remember his gentle spirit and engaging smile. We used to play basketball together a lot at camp and he always had this great smirk on his face. He especially enjoyed making me run after the basketball when it went out of bounds and rocketed down the adjacent hill all the way to the beach (the dumbest location for a b-ball court in history). I only once said, "Why don't you go get it lazybones?" Then he jokingly plaid the Cancer card and of course, what can you say to that? Nothing. At least I got a lot of exercise going up and down that hill.
Bob's life today is being remembered and celebrated again as it is every year by devoted friend Barley. Barley, also known as Manny Chao, founder of the Georgetown Brewing Company and inspiration for and maker of my favorite beer- Manny's, is throwing a party again tonight in Bob's honor at the Nickerson Street Saloon in Fremont, where Bob's family, friends, and fans will sip on the special release of "Bob's Brown Ale". I think Bob would be proud. Especially since the proceeds of the event go to the Ronald McDonald House. Manny and the Georgetown Brewing Company have shown incredible support for RonDon for almost a decade now. Please check out Georgetown Brewery's website for more info.

I've been sucking lately at this Blog!

Yes I have.

So much to say and share and so little time to do it.

HOWEVER...today I'll try to make up for it (if only for a few minutes). There's a number of things that have been buzzing through my mind lately so I share them one post at a time. Let's see now....where are those photos?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Captain Joe

I opened the archives today and found this classic shot of Captain Joe Williamson that I took in the late 1980's when he was helping out as a mate aboard the classic 1922 steamer Virginia V at a Husky Football game. Joe was a renowned photographer AND boat captain and his "Joe Williamson Collection" of photographs is on permanent display at MOHAI in Seattle. I used to deckhand for Joe occasionally in the very early 80's and he was such a wonderful man. After we were safely docked and all the passengers were out of sight I would deliver to him his "Bourbon and water...no ice." Those were the days. Sadly, I found out through Facebook that his granddaughter Emily just passed away this very morning. I didn't know her very well at all but judging from the outpouring of emotion on her page you would be a very lucky person indeed if she had been in your life. It's very obvious that she was loved so much and led a very rich life. I'd like to think that Captain Joe is now helping steer his beloved granddaughter towards calmer waters, beyond.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Last weekend I attended the Celebration of Life for former Camp Goodtimes camper Jacob Sears. Jake was just 19 years of age and was a big part of the camp family, having attended for years. It was a wonderful heartfelt tribute to a young life taken far too soon by cancer. The day was filled with things that Jake loved and was passionate about, his family, his friends, and his music. The music was incredibly moving. "Amazing Grace" and "Let it be" were performed by professional musicians who were close friends with Jake, and the guests also sang along with "Firework" by Katy Perry which got progressively louder as the song went along, with Jake’s camp friends, fittingly, even busting out the hand gestures towards the end.
Jakes’ mother Jonae showed unimaginable strength as she dealt with her own grief while at the same time lovingly embracing the sorrow of others. Tragically this was the second child she has lost to cancer with the passing of Jake’s older brother Nick five years ago. Nick also attended Camp Goodtimes where he is still honored at the ‘Memory Circle’ each year.
Jake's mom Jonae

A hug from a close friend, the Dean of students from Jake's school

Jonae, sharing a happy memory

Nick at camp in June of 2006
The tributes on Saturday came from all facets of Jake’s life, firstly his brave mom, followed by his relatives, the Dean of students at his school, his music teacher, a friend from school, his counselor from Camp Goodtimes, and two of his best friends from camp, Rocky and Maggie. The girls stood holding hands and with voices trembling, poured their hearts out to Jonae, thanking her for the gift that Jake was to them. It took great courage for them to express themselves in that manner and they did so respectfully and reverently.

Rocky and Maggie

 There were so many people in attendance who were hurting and before you knew it, hours had passed, the time lost in the sharing of memories. Maggie said, “We met on Daboata at camp and from the moment he said, ‘Hi!’ we just clicked. He was so special.” There is no doubt that his memory will be cherished and protected and his life will continue to be celebrated because he deeply impacted the lives of everyone he connected with. While listening to the outpouring of emotion it became very clear that Jake was the same loving person to whoever he encountered in life and he loved his family and friends with conviction and without condition.
I personally will miss his enthusiasm and energy at camp and his willingness to try anything. I enjoyed very much hanging out with him and his cabin mates on the beach taking pictures, playing guitar and singing songs as well as our many random duets on the piano.
Playing piano at camp with Jake in 2009
Jake's colorful entrance to the dance in 2011
The last time I saw him was at the hospital last spring. His treatment had left him unable to speak. There were a few other staff from camp visiting as well and I mentioned to Jake that too bad he didn’t have a piano because it would be fun to play. His mom then pointed to an electric keyboard in the corner of the room. I picked it up and sat down on a chair next to his bed, almost falling over in the process, which brought a nice smile to his face and laughter from everyone else (I’m not necessarily known for being graceful). After playing a few silly little things I went into the chords of “Lean on me” and everyone else in the room started singing quietly. It was moment but we just sang a little bit of it because I could tell Jake was tired. Then I said to him, “I’m gonna keep singing camp songs until I see you smile!” Instantly a huge smile came to his face as everyone cracked up, me included. It really was good to see that smile again. I said my warm goodbyes and off I went. As I walked to my car I was so thankful to have been able to have visited him and at the same time I was mystified that a young man so full of life the last time I saw him could be rendered so helpless by the relentless attack of this invisible foe.
I’m just so sad for Jake, his mom, and the rest of his family and friends because he had so much still to give had it not been for cancer taking away that opportunity. I, like so many, are very proud to have known him.

Jonae with Camp Goodtimes director "Beef"(on the left) and Jake's very close friend and former camp counselor "Bacon"

Jonae with Rocky and Maggie
Some of Jake's friends from camp (l to r), Maggie, Rocky, Jack, Drew and Sarah
Some of Jake's Camp Goodtimes family
I have to share a somewhat silly analogy and I think Jake would appreciate this. There was once a great wiseman whom I first quoted in my high school yearbook. I don't know his name but he was actually an actor in an old 50's era Italian Hercules movie with really bad dubbing of English that didn't even come close to matching the lip movements of the actors. This fellow played a wiseman who stopped the fighting between Hercules and the dozen or so warriors that were battling him. I still have never forgotten what this philosopher said as he pushed the men apart...."Life hangs by a thread, who is to say that we will be alive tomorrow....so let us be happy today." In my book, those are words to live by and I am confident that Jake would have agreed. He will be deeply missed.

Maggie, saying goodbye

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Daydreaming of summer weddings!

Having not actually seen the sun for over a week now (except for the briefest of appearances designed to keep Northwesterners from actually moving away), I've started longing for those longer days of spring and summer when I'll be able to take advantage of the beauty of Puget Sound without freezing to death.

Over the years I've had a lot of fun shooting weddings out on the Sound for couples who wanted a little something out of the ordinary. Here are just a few of my favorite images from my maritime wedding portfolio and I'm looking forward to adding more to this in the warmer months ahead.

If you're planning a boat wedding, please contact me. I don't get seasick, I know a sea shanty or two and I also know how to work a camera aboard a wedding venue that moves!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Best of Western Washington

I was quite honored last month to be named "Best Photographer" in the wedding category in King5's Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington contest. There were almost 600 nominees in the contest and because of the wonderful support of past clients and hundreds of other people who had become familiar with my work over the years, I won. In fact, I garnered more votes than any other vendor in the overall wedding category.

Unlike many other photographers, I didn't offer free stuff in exchange for votes. I noticed other nominees offering potential movie tickets, Starbuck's cards, Target gift cards etc. I instead relied on people voting for me that believed in my work and believed in me personally. I was truly humbled by how many people were supporting me and saying nice things about my photography as well as the positive experience of working with me. The only teensy (tongue in cheek) incentive that I offered was something I promised I'd give everyone if I wound up winning the contest. It was nothing much...just a FREE PONY! And I made good on that promise by uploading a small gallery of my favorite pony pictures available for download in high resolution to my supporters. Here's a few portraits of my friend Pierre who lives at the farm across the street from my studio. :)

"Word of mouth" has been how I have allowed my business to marketed forever. My passion lies in the photography, not the marketing, and word of mouth, via social networking, is how I won this contest. I had to supply a little description of my work for the contest page and it really does illustrate how I truly feel and the reason why I do what I do.

"Life zooms by...but a photograph can slow it down. I first realized that when I begged my parents for a camera in 6th grade and I've had one in my hand ever since. It's truly an honor to be invited into someone's life to capture a moment, or a celebration, or just a memory. My goal is to capture what my heart sees. Sharing that is one of my greatest joys."

Thanks to all of you who voted for me. If you're stopping by for the first time and looking for a photographer for your wedding next year, perhaps I'll be offering YOU a free pony (or some other cute animal) if you support me in the 2013 contest. Until then, in the now immortal words of Carly Rae Jepsen, "Here's my number (studio 360-779-7663), so call me maybe!"