The Summer of "80s Redux"


Well, summer is almost over and I feel like it’s just flown by!  It was a super busy time working on getting the word out there about the book, “80s Redux.”  Thanks to everyone who came out to the events at Third Place Books in Seattle, Music Millennium in Portland, and the Skype presentation at the Liverpool Public Library.  I’m looking forward to other events this fall, including heading back to Athens for a presentation at Avid Bookshop!

There was also lots of great press from Metro Weekly, Seattle Magazine, City Arts Magazine, and Rediscover the 80s blog.  I absolutely loved chatting with the podcasts Dead Beat Film Society and the Stuck in the 80s podcast!  Hoping to do more of those as well!

Thanks again so much for your support on the book – it’s really been a huge labor of love for me and I’m hoping you enjoyed it!  I’m already scheming up ideas for the follow-up!

(Thanks to Julie Miller for the photo above of the talk at Third Place Books, Seattle)

Sasquatch Researchers


I’m going to admit to you that as a kid, I hated “Star Trek” but I loved Leonard Nimoy’s 70s show “In Search Of…” I was entranced hearing of the mysteries of the Loch Ness monster, UFOs, and Big Foot. The creepy music aside, Nimoy’s authoritative voice added an air of gravitas to the stories being told.  There’s nothing like it on the air today – yes, there’s “Ancient Aliens” with the guy whose hair you can’t look away from, but it feels more reality show than documentary.

I’m not Leonard Nimoy and I don’t have his voice, but I definitely was interested in exploring some of these types of stories. And, living in the Northwest (as well as having just finished reading Sharma Shields’ excellent novel “The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac”), Big Foot seemed like a natural choice of subject matter.

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum is a Full Professor of Anatomy & Anthropology in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Idaho State University. He is also one of the country’s leading “Big Foot” researchers and was an ideal first subject to approach to photograph. There is far too much cheer surrounding Dr. Meldrum for him to be anything like Eli Roebuck, the lead character is Shields’ book, and his enthusiasm for his subject matter is contagious.

Back in 1996, he came across a set of footprints that were almost 14 inches long while hiking in the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla, Washington and his interest in the mythical creature was sparked. Sure, to the skeptic it seems like anyone can try and fake footprints in a muddy path. What was different in this set of prints was the great flexibility Meldrum saw in the prints – as a professor who is especially interested in the way hominids walk and move, he explained to me that this type of print would be next to impossible to fake. He shows me photographs of the muddy trail and points to where the foot slipped in the mud but it left behind a tell-tale mark where it looked as though the creature was flexing its toes to regain its footing on the slippery trail – again, he says, almost impossible to fake that.

Over the years, he’s had his share of critics and, despite the potential for damage to his professional reputation, curiosity continues to drive his research forward. In terms of why he thinks science does not take the subject seriously, Meldrum says, “There are few qualified serious researchers involved. Furthermore, it is in-congruent with the prevailing paradigm of human evolution that we are the only surviving hominin.”

Meldrum is one of the qualified and serious researchers leading the charge for sure!

Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea

The temperature on the dashboard said it was 84 degrees outside but it felt much hotter.  The last time I was in the Salton Sea in California, it seemed to be the hottest place I’d ever been in my life.  This particular day was not like that but hot nonetheless. 

Directly in front of me was Leonard Knight’s amazing Salvation Mountain, a place I’d wanted to go to for over a decade and there it was. Other people have made this a focus of some of their photographic projects (check out Aaron Huey’s amazing work on the subject here) – I could never compete with that, I just wanted to see if for myself. 

The sun reflected off the pale ground and white painted stripes below my feet – I felt like my eyes were getting sunburnt.  I walked into one of the side tunnels watching a couple of Japanese tourists snap photos and a guy passed me and, slightly derisively, said, “Wow, this is something eh?” I wasn’t sure what to say – I’m not religious or anything like that but how can you mock something so elaborate as this? Maybe he was crazy, maybe he was on to something – whatever it was, it was a pretty phenomenal achievement.

The drive back to LA along Highway 111 still felt as apocalyptic as it did the last time I was down this way over a decade ago – there were very few people around, houses decrepit and lonely looking, graffiti on everything, walls crumbling down. It was kind of like a Mad Max world in real life. That said, it looked a teensy bit better than that last time I was here – I did not see a mobile home leeching red paint into a salty, shallow pool of water or power poles up to their necks in the sea and the amount of dead fish on the shore and their decaying smell seemed to be lower.  And, the water level of the lake also seemed to be dramatically lower – apparently the lake is receding for real and the effects of that could be devastating.

In a weird way, getting back on I-10 back west to Los Angeles it felt as though the temperature dropped a bit - even though the dashboard thermometer now read 86 degrees - hotter than it was back at Salvation Mountain. . The landscape around me was still dry and beautiful, but something about being in that other dry and beautiful spot made the heat radiate a bit hotter.

Client Work - Washington State Poet Laureate


I recently had the opportunity to shoot a portrait of Washington State’s newest Poet Laureate, Spokane poet Tod Marshall, for Humanities Washington. Previous poet laureate Elizabeth Austen “passed the laurel” at a packed house at Hugo House in Seattle on Feb. 9 and it was here I grabbed a few minutes of his time to get the portrait. 

You can read an interview with Tod and see more photos here

Judging by my skills in this blog post, it should be pretty evident that Mr. Marshall’s position is not at all threatened by my own pen!

Client Work - PCC Natural Markets


I know it's only November and not really that close to the end of the year but I can pretty safely say that one of my favorites jobs this year - and maybe of the last five years really - was the opportunity to work with PCC Natural Markets to photograph some of their many vendors and products.

I drove almost 5000 miles - from the Oregon-California border over to the eastern most corners of Washington State  - over the course of almost five months to photograph over 60 of PCC's vendors.  One blown tire, many re-arranged schedules to avoid wildfires in southern Oregon and all over Washington, wearing a bio-suit in 90-degree weather to photograph chickens because of the bird flu scare, emergency calls saying that if I wanted to photograph the tomatoes I better come right away because they'd be all gone when we were originally going to shoot (thanks crazy hot Pacific Northwest summer - the new normal?) - all of it to meet some amazing farmers and producers out there who are incredibly passionate about the food and products they create.  I met a lot of people during the course of this project and every single one of them was so excited to tell me their stories, to show me their favorite variety of grape, to show me their process (though cheese making still remains a mystery to me after shooting three creameries - I'm going to chalk that up to magic!) - frankly, it was so inspiring that it made me think maybe I'm in the wrong line of work!

I shot literally thousands of frames and there's so much material - what I'm showing is just such a small fraction of what we created. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such great folks - both at PCC and the vendors themselves!

The photo below, showing some of the calendula harvest in southern Oregon, is perhaps one of my favorite images from the shoot - the scents of that day, the buzzing of thousands of bees, and watching endless fields of yellow blend into the hills - it was kind of a magical day that makes you remember why you're doing what you're doing in the first place.