Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Random photo of Miles for no other reason than I like this shot

Roche Harbor, summer 2008

You don't have to become boring when you get older

My good friend Putt Putt turns 40 in a few days? Does it look like it?

I don't think so either. Have a great birthday and go take a shower!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kyle at 1 and 18

I held Kyle when she was less than 20 minutes old. I've known her mom Teresa since 1979. Teresa stayed at our house in Greenlake in the days before she gave birth, her husband unfortunately being stuck in Mexico. My wife, Heidi helped with the birth while I paced the hallways. Because of busy lives I had only seen Kyle a handful of times over the years. She came to the studio last fall for her senior portraits. When she hopped out of the car I was immediately struck with her poise and positive energy. It was hard to believe that I had met Kyle's mother when she was 2 years younger than Kyle was on that day.

I looked at the brand new Kyle and the 18 year old Kyle really the same way, with a sense that anything was possible and that a wonderful life lay before her.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Escape from Oz

Have you seen this lion? He's looking for a little self-confidence. If you come across him, give him a hug and tell him to have a nice day.

Look what can happen in 14 years

Miles and his cousin Gabey have been buddies since the get go, born one month apart in 1994. The top photo was taken in the summer of '95 and the below photo on Inauguration day this week.

I love getting older. I wouldn't mind of course if my knees worked better but what's there to complain about? I've been blessed with an amazing family and extended family, wonderful friends and classic moments too many to count. How depressing it would be to NOT have the thousands of photos that have documented my journey through life. To me, life is a complex series of connected moments and it's through capturing those moments with any tool that you have at your disposal whether be a camera, video camera, a pencil and paper, or just your mind or imagination that you can reflect on and learn from your experience. Some moments might be regrettable or forgettable but others become moments to hold dear forever, to revisit, to gain strength from, or just to reinforce your love of life.

To photograph Miles and Gabey in the studio the other day was to put my brain on sentimental rewind and then an uber-fast forward to the present. They both have grown to be such interesting and interested young people with their whole lives ahead of them and countless future classic moments to enjoy and share with so many other lucky people.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random thought- How to pet a Beluga whale's tongue

From great national euphoria to random silliness in a matter of moments (but that's just the way things are in my world).

A word of advice; if you ever encounter the treacherous, viscious (doesn't he look mean?) Beluga whale and he is about to devour you, there IS one way to sooth the savage beast. They love having their tongues scratched. No fooling...seriously. I worked at an aquarium in high school and Kandu was my good friend. I'd walk up to his tank in the morning and kick the side of the metal tank with my foot a couple of times. He'd immediately come zooming over and pop his head out of the water with mouth gaping wide hoping for a little love. Do you notice the two
nice rows of teeth on either side of his tongue? They were arranged as if they were designed specifically for the express purpose of a good tongue scratching from a human friend. If you just hold your hand up in front of you right now with the photo of Kandu in the background (go ahead, I'll wait) you will see this perfect design. Kandu's teeth fit perfectly between your index and little fingers and your middle fingers are in prime position to make Kandu a happy whale. Even if he playfully closes his mouth on your hand, your hand is safe from his sharp blunt teeth. In fact, just to mess with some Aquarium guests I use to go out and play with Kandu and wait for him to close his mouth on my hand and I'd say, "OOOWWWWW!!"...and the people would freak out. My 15 year old sense of humor got a big kick out of that.

Anyway, lesson over...now you know, just in case you ever find yourself in a close, potentially deadly encounter with the menacing Beluga whale.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack's Big Day.....on second thought, EVERYONE'S BIG DAY!!!!

First...the solemn swearing in....

...then the Inaugural party begins!!!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The South Pacific

(photos from top and left to right: Tonga, Bora Bora, Aitutaki, Western Samoa, and Tahiti)

I've been thinking lately about the people and places that I encountered on a South Pacific journey back in 1999. The places were so exotic but the people were so real. I met them so briefly but I wonder about them and hope that they have been happy. In life our similarities are so much greater than our differences. Everyone appreciates kindness, compassion, and an interested glance. I took a Polaroid camera with me to most locations and gave away as many photos as I could. I didn't want to just take a picture. That seemed selfish to me. I felt it was much more appropriate to exchange photos so we each could have something to remember the moment by. Even if they forgot me the next day perhaps the photos I left became special to them.

A random neighbor gave me a Polaroid of myself when I came trick or treating to his house when I was 10. I remember being shocked that instead of just giving me candy, he also gave me a small piece of my life to remember. I still have the photo even though sweet Mr. Oliver is long gone. If it wasn't for him I would never have remembered the Halloween when it poured all evening and my candy bag got soggy and started falling apart leaving a tasty trail behind me as I walked. Nor would I have remembered how goofy I looked in my sombrero and poncho!

Anna, then & now

Thankfully, there can be some happy endings in the terrible world of pediatric cancer. I met Anna when she was 9 years old during the first of her three bouts with cancer. In between each relapse she grew her hair as long as she possibly could to make up for losing it all with each and every Chemo. She's almost 30 years old now and lives in Texas working full time to educate people about the National Marrow Donor Program and numerous other health related issues.

Good for you Anna and take THAT cancer!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Iron Man

I took this photograph almost exactly a year ago as I was trying to make it to Cashmere to a memorial service for a friend of mine from Camp Goodtimes (the American Cancer Society's summer camp for pediatric cancer patients). Iron Man (Tanner) was just 17 and we had spent some great times together at camp the previous summer. He was genuine, kind, creative, fun and could make almost anything out of duct tape! He actually made a full size suit courtesy of a manekin from Nordstrom only a few months before he passed away. My friends from camp (from left: me, Putt Putt, Watermelon, Petal and Weezer...gotta love the camp names!) were attempting to get to his service as the snow got thicker and thicker last year and traffic started moving slower and slower. After hours of gridlock we discovered that there was no chance to make the memorial because the pass had just been closed. We turned around and found a nice little spot along a river bank where we could have our own little memorial. We hiked downed to the river in snow that was up to our knees, gathered together and payed our respects to Tanner. We left a tribute on a snow covered boulder right next to the river. The letters SNOJ stand for "Super Nova of Joy!". At camp, his cabin came up with this slogan which stood for the energy that is formed from coming together with a common goal which then can explode outward like a supernova and making the world a better place.

Tanner did make the world a better place. He had a gentle spirit, kind heart, loved the outdoors, and was admired and loved by so very many people. I feel very lucky to have known him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

 Ok, since I was on the subject of children, here's a shot of Alex and I that I took last summer on the ferry with my laptop. I really don't have that many photographs of me WITH Alex because I've always got the camera in my hand. It's kind of funny how much I can be drawn to a little snapshot like this one shot at something like .00000003 megapixels!

 Sometimes it's not the quality of the image, it's just the fact that a brief moment of time was captured.

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Little man

 My son Miles was the best Christmas present that I ever received. Born Christmas evening 1994. I have to post a picture of him because he's been checking my new blog every 5 minutes since I started it. It's so hard to do justice to a short post about him but let me just say that I could not be more proud of the young man that he has become. He's smart, gregarious, artistic, sarcastic, hilarious and if I had a Thesaurus handy I could come up with dozens more appropriate adjectives. He is an excellent clarinet player, budding photographer, lover of classical music and opera, and soon will be giving me a run for my money in every field that I'm good at (he's surpassed me already in a few). He just closed one chapter of his life. That being of an adopter of abused reptiles. He had been the lizard dad of 4 or 5 lizards over the past 4 years and had taken care of them quite well. He found good homes for a few and a few others completed their life cycle. He just donated his final lizard to the local elementary school because he knew that Jessie, his 20 inch long Bearded Dragon, would get much more attention from the Critter Keepers of the library than he would be able to give her considering his ever busying schedule.

I've taken a hundred million photographs of Miles but I do like this one from last summer taken when he was assisting me and helping me check the light for a location portrait shoot.

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The Wisdom of a Child

Claudine lived in the Cook Islands on a small island inhabited by only about 50 people. I was taking photographs for an adventure cruise ship company a few years back and came across this young girl who saved my life. Yes, saved my life. Well, not literally. She didn't pull me out of a burning hut or punch a Great White Shark in the nose. She just gave me some very good advice that I will never forget. Advice that if ignored could have had dire consequences not to mention ended a great day in the South Pacific. I was relaxing on the beach under the shade of a beautiful palm tree when Claudine came skipping up to me. Luckily, she spoke English and said, "Those coconuts up there might fall on you...you should sit under that tree over there instead." The wisdom and advice of a four-year old were taken into account and I switched trees and shared a coconut with her.

Simple advice, but I had just never thought of it before. It's kind of like the old, "Look both ways before crossing the street" deal...it's just something that you never forget.

Thanks Claudine, the coconut was delicious!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Bubble Girl

I had no idea when I took this photograph on the shores of Camp Sealth on Vashon Island that it would become such a signature classic image in my life as a photographer. This is my friend Anne Marie (my family have always called her Amo) when she was about 16 and taking my photography session at camp. I started up Sealth's photography program in 1991 by excavating an old spider and mouse infested darkroom that was probably last used in the 1960's. Camp Sealth is operated by Campfire Boys & Girls and still offers a photo session every summer and in recent years part of their adventure is a road trip to my studio in Poulsbo to hang out, take pictures, and eat gigantic piles of nachos. The nachos have become legendary and some of the kids are more excited about them than they are getting up out of one of my hammocks and going off to take pictures. Back at camp though in about 1996 I was hanging out around a campfire on the beach and the kids all started playing with bubbles. Amo discovered if she put her hands in the soap that she could blow a bubble through the middle of what normally is the "OK" sign. The bubbles were getting bigger and bigger and the sunset was getting richer and richer when I took my flash far off of my camera to take the famous (at least in my tiny world) "Bubble Girl" photo. I love the photograph for so many reasons but mainly because it was a random, unexpected moment that was captured on a warm summer day long ago in only 1/30 of a second. 

For the last 10 years Amo has been a co-volunteer with me at The American Cancer Society's Camp Goodtimes. Her boyfriend, Putt Putt, also volunteers there. Well, that needs some explanation. Everyone at camp has a nickname (Amo's is Watermelon). It just makes the experience so much more unique and fun for the kids. The scary thing is that I am so used to using peoples' camp names over the years that it doesn't sound goofy at all walking into a crowded room and yelling hello to Yoshi, Daffy, Elvis, Woopow, Texas Viper, Loop, Bubbles, Chaos, or anyone of dozens of others. Oh yeah, my camp name is Mooselips. It has been for 30 years. The name was the perfect fit for me. The bottom line is that when someone finds out your name is Mooselips, they smile, and that's a good thing.

Camp Sealth (30 years) and Camp Goodtimes (25 years) have been so much a part of my life that a few posts here and there really won't be adequate, so stay tuned for the "Camp Manifesto" at a later date.

Really, all I wanted to do was to share the bubble with you!

Monday, January 12, 2009

One of my favorite people

I met Karen half-way through my 8th grade year in math class at Bellevue Junior High. She was feisty, quick witted, sharp tongued and pretty darn cute. She was easy to have a crush on. After I answered a particularly difficult question aloud in class one time I sort of glanced towards her, I guess hoping for her to bat those big beautiful brown eyes at me and say, "Gee Paul, you are so wonderfully smart." But, instead she whipped her head around and said with a piercing smile and snide laugh, "Get out of here DUDLEY!" There went the air out of my balloon. We've stayed in touch over the years and now only live 20 minutes away from one another. We were helped to get reconnected more strongly a few years ago with her daughter Katie's cancer diagnosis. Tragically, Katie, after a brutal struggle, died in August 2007. Brutal struggle? Tragic battle? Extraordinarily painful journey? I don't know actually how to put a label on it. I just know that it sucked, and sucked terribly. I hate cancer. I have lost too many friends to it and I really wish I could find a Genie in a bottle and use my first wish to take care of cancer once and for all (hmmm...but what to do with the other two wishes?). Luckily for me, I had the great honor of spending some wonderful time with Katie in June of 2007 at the American Cancer Society's Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island. The camp is for pediatric oncology patients and their siblings. I have been a volunteer there for 25 years and I encouraged Karen and her husband Greg to try to get Katie to attend. With some coaxing and pushing Katie went to camp along with her amazing older brother David (who just happens to be one of the coolest kids I know). Karen later told me that spending that week at camp with her brother, just being a kid, was just what Katie needed. She was able to express herself, experience something that was hers to keep, and make new friends that could truly empathize and relate to what she was going through. I loved seeing her at camp and capturing some wonderful moments of her life in photographs. Her terminal diagnosis came just three weeks after camp. Unbelievable. I would never have guessed that after seeing her in action, laughing, dancing, sticking her tongue out at me every time I pointed a camera at her, and literally having the time of her life. 

One of her dreams in life was to be a bridesmaid in a wedding. That dream came true two weeks to the day before she died. Her cousin Andrea and fiance Mike moved up their planned wedding by more than 6 months so that Katie's dream could be fulfilled. Katie looked so beautiful that day and I'm so glad that she put up with me an my camera one last time. I can't imagine NOT having these photographs. Life is short, but not when you're paying attention. Katie lived a great life surround by love and filled with great experiences. Her family was amazing at chronicling their adventures in photographs. Now that is one thing that they can share with the world. The other is the love that so connected her family. Karen has opened up her heart to the world at large and has been sharing stories of Katie, her struggle, the families struggle, the heartache, the joy and the progress of healing. I'll include here the link to Karen's thoughts; www.karengberger.blogspot.com

I'm very thankful for Karen's friendship and through her, the great chance I've had to know Greg, David, and Katie. The friendship will continue and the memories will not fade. 


Friday, January 9, 2009

I love orcas. I took this photograph last summer off of the west side of San Juan Island.

...and they WALKED AWAY!!

Random thought of the day;

I've taken off in a helicopter four times in my life, but have only landed three times...this is why. 

First post

Hey, I'm excited to start sharing photos, videos and randomness with whoever decides to stop by. I think this is going to be fun!