Pack up your creativity, leave your worries behind and join us for a total immersion class in stunning scenery!
The recent issue of Oregon State University’s Terra Magazine features a story about our goat milk soap-making project in Uganda. What an honor it has been to work with so many Oregon constituents in making this project come to life, all initiated by one gesture of gift giving from a soap maker in Fossil, Oregon to fistula survivors in Soroti, Uganda.
I love when I get to be inside the walls of Oregon Ballet Theatre’s building and watch the heat and fury that arises from the dancers as they practice. It takes enormous focus and energy to perfect those twists and turns and leaps, and to be able to witness trial after trial until they reach their aspirations is a wondrous sight.
I was there to make dancer portraits, and even though they came right from brutal practice to sit before my camera, they each faced the lens with authentic passion in their eyes.
Several of my images made while on an assignment documenting extreme climbers in Yosemite are included in the documentary, Valley Uprising.
If you attended my lecture at the Portland Art Museum, you might recall that I left my corporate work years ago to become a full-time photographer based upon two experiences: watching people trying to salvage photographs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and a life-altering discussion I had one day in a cave with climber Dean Potter.
This film is startling and evocative, delving into the tensions that exist between climbers and rangers in the Yosemite area.
It was a complete surprise to see that my name was listed in the credits at the end!
My Environmental Portrait workshops are up and running in the John Day River Territory, where I am spending more and more time while I am in Oregon. I can really see how this Eastern Oregon wilderness land has an effect of people, and I hope to be able to teach more in this area.
I have made a commitment to providing an immersion experience that focuses on “honoring the land/respecting the subject” while also enjoying great company, local fresh foods and delicious wines.
Each workshop accepts an extremely limited number of participants so that the group size is conducive for intimate exchange of ideas and nimble change of locations.
Follow along on my Instagram account for live stories and images during these workshops and throughout my on-going backroads exploration!
I love working with teams of people to make portraits for their website and other promotions. Here is a snapshot of portraits from one company I especially admire, Vista Capital Partners. Each staff member brings a unique personality to the table, yet they form a very cohesive and friendly group.
We scheduled the portrait sessions in the Rose Garden last month so that a bit of greenery was included in the background, which represents many of their offerings. Quite a departure from their previous stark white and square portrait layout!
I saunter up to the tall lanky cowboy who is leaning against a shed and muster up confidence to ask him my question:
“Do you know where I can find a good plumber out here? I’d like to get an outdoor shower up and running before my extended family arrives from out of state soon.”
He looks at me straight in the eye, pauses, and with a slow curl of his lip, he said, “You already have one. That is what hoses are for. Let ’em sit in the sun a bit, and you have yourself some nice hot water also.”
And like that, I learned more than a few lessons.
This might seem like nothing more than a humorous exchange with a dollop of sarcasm, but that moment set the stage for how I would come to live in (and understand) my new rural town of Spray, Oregon.
As I make my way around the new digs, I am constantly learning things each and every day. Close all gates. Respect the land. Ask before making assumptions. Listen closely. Have a sense of humor, politically incorrect at times but rooted in truth.
I was drawn to this area of Oregon because it reminded me of being in Ethiopia, where most of my work has been of late. The landscapes share striking similarities. I also am finding that there is a cultural divide between city/rural that is not unlike the chasm that exists between western/developing nations. And just as we often see aid distribution with well-intentions go awry, the same “we know best” attitudes are too often seen when city/rural tensions collide.
As I dial back my city attributes and attitudes, I am finding myself surrendering to the notion that mankind just might fare best when living close to the land and in shared community. Yet at times I witness something that I just can’t wrap my head around, whether it is seeing a dead coyote draped over a fence or listening to harsh complaints from a local shop owner. Luckily, as I meet people out in this area, I am fortunate enough to be getting some great advice along the way. A very wise local once said something that has now become one of my mantras: There is a reason for this.
There is a reason why city folk and ruralites might clash at times. Judgement and misunderstandings prevail over mindfulness and openness to what I refer to as “crossing the cultural divide”. Whether it be in far away lands with exotic cultures or close to home in rural/city Oregon, both parties must be willing to set aside preconceived notions and seek to understand the position of the other and not make assumptions for what is best. Once this happens, synergistic collaborations can surface.
Our small towns are struggling to stay afloat all over the nation. Big box stores, online shopping, and digital “travel” through our computer screens have fostered a laxity in some for in-person explorations of places outside of our misguided comfort zone. While seeing a beautiful photo online gives great pleasure, there is nothing like planting our feet in front of a soaring and majestic colorful rock formation that is millions of years old while watching a large bird against a kaleidoscope sky search for its dinner and feeling the wind nudge us into letting our fears and worldly concerns slide away.
Nature brings a perspective like no other antidote. It doesn’t matter if we like outdoor sports or not, the point is to just run for the hills and immerse ourselves in sensory delights, whether by foot, bike, boat and yes, even a clunky car. I love finding myself on a deserted road at night when the stars come out and only the moon can be seen with no other man-made structure in sight. It makes me free fall out of the chaos that cities can at times impose upon us. I believe we are more fragile than we realize.
So let’s go. Stop short of only following adventurous people on social media and make your own adventure. Select a far away small town to explore (your dollars are desperately needed to keep these towns in existence), cross that cultural divide and listen to locals tell their stories, tell yours, and become inspired by one another. Commune with some animals. Perch like a bird on a lookout point. Read a book on a riverbank. Explore the remote outer areas that take you a while to reach.
I think there is a reason for this.
One of the NGOs I work with, Dignity Period, just released a new video using still images and video I captured from a recent trip to the Tigray region in Ethiopia.
This is the first time I have worked with the production company, The Arbor Group, and I am really happy with the way this video was edited.
Take a peek here.
What could be more fun than chasing cowboys on horses?
That is exactly what this assignment required as I captured images for Painted Hills Natural Beef in Fossil, Oregon for their website and social media platforms.
A rancher’s life is wrought with many worries and hardships, and often their hard work is under-appreciated by those who sit down to eat the products they bring to the table. There seems to be a disconnect with where our food comes from, how it was raised, and whether it is even healthy for us to eat. Take a spin on their website to read about the many benefits of natural beef.
And consider making a visit to this lovely area of Oregon!