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!


  1. I have wondered about that photo on your website; thanks for telling the story. I look forward to more camp tales, too.

  2. Wow, a comment from a blogging superstar! Thanks Kareney-dear. Have a great day and enjoy your walk!

  3. Does it date me to say, "I remember you taking that photo?" What an amazing program with wonderful memories. I am wondering if a simple thank you suffices? Probably not.