Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Creative Connect officially hits Portland!

A number of years ago, a graphic designer I worked with, David Imes, invited me to a social event called Creative Connect.

It was a true inspirational recharge.

Creative Connect exists simply to provide a venue for creatives, and those that like to meet creatives, to mingle. No agenda. No message. No cost. No worries.

Dan Semenchuk launched Creative Connect in Phoenix, and it has grown to include Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and now Portland.

If you happen to be free the second Tuesday of the month, come check it out and be ready to relax, have fun and meet some creatives! Thanks again to Laura and 23 Sandy Gallery for hosting this first event!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Farewell to the vintage

As a kid, I wasn't allowed to play with toys. Well, not my granddad's anyway. They were kept behind a glass case in his bedroom and if I was forbidden to go in unescorted. When he passed away, the collection went to me. Since I never had a strong connection to them, I decided it was time to unload the 200 pieces to someone who could do more with them than I could in my garage, so today I bid them adieu, aside from three keepsakes and some photos I took.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lifestyle Portfolio

Ya gotta have a book.

For years, I relied on my Web presence, flashy DVDs, and slideshows to show my work, but when I hired Suzanne Sease to be my consultant last year, she said what had been nagging at the back of my skull.

You gotta have a book.

So I acquiesced and couldn't be happier. I hope you enjoy it, and if you would prefer the real deal, I am more than happy to send you a copy to review.

This book was made narrowing down photos in Adobe Lightroom and creating the pages with Photoshop.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Robert McCall 1919-2010

I just came across this the other day, but a terrific person and talented artist passed away over a week ago. Bob McCall's work made an early impression on me from old Starlog magazines, and especially the poster to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I have had a copy of since college.

I met Bob in 2004 when I photographed him for the cover of Camelback Magazine. I spent the afternoon with him at his home studio and chatted with him and his wife, Louise, for about three hours before I actually got to work shooting him. My grandfather had passed away a few years before and Bob reminded me of him quite a bit. It was refreshing.

We got together a few times after that and he was always

the most congenial and amazing person. I will miss him greatly, and we are bereft his amazing talent that brought to the best vision our dreams of the cosmos. How I would give anything to live in the universe he painted. Good journey Bob, you've already illustrated to me what heaven looks like.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A big thanks

It's not easy planning a trip like this one to Peru. The logistics, the materials, the convincing the spouse there is a payoff to abandoning the family for 10 days, the equipment wrangling, and, of course, money and materials.

The last three things came about from helpful connections.

I have a pretty good selection of equipment of my own with 16 years of professional photography behind me, but you can always use that one thing–or several–that you don't have, and can't really see affording to buy right now. Canon and Pro Photo Supply eased the pain on that for me. Canon rushed out a 7D, their state of the art prosumer 18 MP body with an ISO that racks up to 12800, more than enough for me in tricky lighting. Pro Photo Supply helped out with providing me extra cards, hard drives, a video light that proved instrumental in surgeries when the power went out during the floods, a fluid tripod head and a several other items that made my job so much easier.

Columbia Sportswear also swooped in to aid me by providing me that swell blue jacket that adapted to all the weather conditions that fluctuated so quickly while I was there, and really helped lighten my clothing burden.

I also want to give a shout out to my investors who believed in my mission, fueled by their desire to simply see something amazing in my photography.

Thanks again, you all helped make this a success for me!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


The trip back home is a daunting one. The layovers are the killer, with an overnight stay in Lima's wonderful airport (yes, we stayed away from Mama Morena's) but I did catch up on some editing and a few shopping items for the girls.

I couldn't help but reflect on the 10 day trip, which seemed to age me far more. We forget what the rest of the world goes through when we are insulated with our TV's, our water heaters, and our crappy, but still far superior health care in the U.S. I hope some big changes can happen here so we can have better access to the talents of people like Dr. Shaw and his team, but having seen what Peru has to face on a day to day basis when teams aren't there giving of their free time, we should count ourselves lucky.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday-the long(er) road to Qos'qo

Our last day at the clinic. Once again, a beautiful morning beamed through my window and I jumped in the shower to have my last trickle of a very crummy shower. I made the mistake of stretching this morning, grazing my hand across the shower head and completing the circuit that formed from the bare wires connecting it to warm the water, and my wet feet. Needless to say, I didn't need coffee this morning!

Martha met me downstairs and offered me in the most English words she has managed to string together since I met her, "Would you like to see my cuy?"


Turns out, cuy is the regional delicacy here: Guinea pigs! Martha took me to the storage room where 50 0r so guinea pigs huddled in the corner, waiting to become fried cuy on a stick!

Vicki was back to her sparkly self, and Luis Elvis, a young boy who had to have a triple lateral club foot correction, was in good spirits.

Today was the day they get to go home. In the other room, Roosevelt bravely gave a smile, hiding the pain he felt from his shish-kabob leg procedure. I interviewed Roosevelt and his dad about why he wanted the surgery so bad. Roosevelt simply stated he just wants to be able to cross a room without bumping into things and being laughed at by the other kids. Wow. If there ever was a statement to bring home why these doctors do what they do, it was right there.

Everyone packed up their things. Surgical instruments, packing supplies, unused orthopedic hips. It was time to go. We packed up three vans of people and bags and left Coya behind us, well, except for the parts that will always stay with us.

We went to Pisaq for lunch, but Cassie, Todd, Maddie and I opted to see the Pisaq Ruins, a massive Incan city that rivals in size Machu Picchu. We didn't have time to see the whole thing, so we broke out the Griswald Family rush-and-see energy to probe as far in as we can and rush back–not an easy thing with something this beautiful and high up, you'd think we were chain smokers who just finished a bacon buffet the way were gasping from a 50 yd jog–downhill!

Since the Pisaq bridge was washed out, the 40
minute drive to Cuszco (Qos'qo in Quechuan) will now stretch to about two or more hours. The landscape was beautiful. Billowy clouds floated above, and the sun ignited the velvety green carpet that draped the hillsides. We rose above the terraced mountains to grassland meadows, the higher, jagged, snow covered Andes tops now revealed.

At first impression, Cuzco seemed like a Baroque inspired, crowded, polluted city.
But as you peel past the outer layers, the Inca ancestry of the architecture (Theirs are the masterfully cut stone walls, the Spanish built the mortared ones) and the beautiful Plaza del Armas reveal why it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Americas. At night, as you stand in the plaza, its hard to look straight up at the constellation Orion and drop your gaze to focus on the cityscape, as the pinpoints of light that dot the hillsides are almost indistinguishable from the stars above.

Several of us went to one of the tourist favorite pubs and downed the coldest beer I think I have ever had. Maybe it was just weariness from having warm drinks and cold eats, but this was definitely a degree away from ice crystals, and my palate was very pleased! We ate traditional Andean food that served everything from cuy to alpaca (tastes like steak!)
and a traditional dance display which...I got pulled up to show off my unflattering dance moves, and my ass set on fire. Apparently some courting ritual dance. Oh well, at least it entertained the team!

The Quechua word of the day:Tupananchiscama-Goodbye, until we meet again.

Thursday-All in the family

High above Coya sits a cross overlooking the town. Since we got there, I have been eager to hike up there, but the rains in the morning, and pitch dark when we finally finished at night, has kept me at bay.

Well this morning the clouds were absent, except for foggy
wisps rising up from the terraced mountain tops. Deep golden arcs were starting to stream up in the east and I knew it was now or never to try. Martha, my house mom, told me when it dried up enough, she would show me where the trail was to get there. It was still too rough to go by her accounts, but she pointed the finger where, and I met with Todd, Cassie, and Jennifer to find the cross.

We followed a trail leading up past a smaller more primitive community up the hill from Coya. the washout from the river that cuts through town revealed how tumultuous it had been. As we climbed up, the path melted into the river bed and we found ourselves sinking almost up to our knees in mud. We came to an amazingly beautiful home with a fortified wall and turned towards the cross, still out of sight, and found a huge chasm that the river blasted out, cutting off our chance to get up there, especially with the sun now out, and the need to be at the clinic in 45 minutes. Covered in mud, I got back to my place defeated and to add insult, the water line to the house had been ruptured by the heavy rain last night. I grabbed a bite to eat, thinking of how great I am going to smell today at the clinic, and viola! The water cut back on. So I'll be a little late going in this morning!

The rounds were delayed as well since Dr. Shaw wanted to take some time this morning taking pictures with the group. As the rounds were concluded, I said good morning to Vicki, the three year-old double hip dysplasia patient, and she immediately snapped her fingers for me to come over and kiss her good morning. I don't know what it is, but she reminds me so much of a three year old version of Stella. She's plucky, and very smart behind those dark wells of eyes, and the smile, when you are lucky enough to get it (the nurses got pinched and yelled at her more than smiled at, I think) is thankfully the most infectious thing in the clinic.

She lies in bed with her legs cast in a wide V, which looks to be the most uncomfortable position to be in, especially if you are stuck that way for 6 weeks. I asked her father how long a journey they expect on the way back, and replied they have a six hour bus ride, and two hour walk. He'll have to carry her–V'd legs and all–for two hours.

I did some rounds shooting a cast change and passed through the recovery room where Vicki was, who had some additional guests, their village caseworker and a translator. They wanted to ask me, if I would be interested in becoming Vicki's godfather!

I was floored! As a journalist, you try and overcome the Observer Effect, whereby the environment is changed by the existence of the observer who is supposed to be committed to little or no interaction with the environment he is observing. Obviously, my homesickness for my family on this trip swayed my actions to take Vicki and her father under my wing so to speak. Every morning I would come in and check on them, play with her, practice my Quechuan on them, and form a bond. Now they want me as her godfather.

I was honored, but technically, since I am not Catholic, I probably couldn't truly be her compadre. And when she is scheduled to be baptized next year, the chances I can get back there, and my Protestant background, the priest would probably protest. But it was one of the most touching moments of my life to be asked.

We had another half day and piled up to go way past Urubamba to the Mares Salt Mines an hour away.

The mines are remnants of the Incan Empire, massive terraces of carved salt plots that supplied the Incans for centuries. Now, thousands of families own plots that provide them with their needs, and even a source for high end restaurants around the world. Oh yeah, they are stunning to behold!

That night Guido and Sandy invited us to their home in Calca for dinner and drinks. Pisco sours painted the night (a corn mash beverage mixed with lemon juice, egg whites foamed on top and garnished with bitters.)

To say their house was swell doesn't even begin to cover it. Casa Grande would be more like it. A beautiful property with stunning backdrops. It's the first place I have ever been I could live at and NOT miss having a TV nearby. Just give me a hammock in the backyard, or a comfy spot next to one of the many fireplaces in everyroom, and a good book (don't forget the pisco sour!!) and I am goooooooooddd.

I nailed Guido down for an interview with the jagged peaks as a backdrop and you really have to respect a man who holds nothing back. Guido is really passionate about the work his clinic does, and little tolerance to whatever might impede it. Afterwards, we had the best meal on the trip, a roasted chicken with a delicious seasoning I couldn't even place-which is pretty hard to stump me–and mmm–mmm-french fries!

The Quechua word of the day is: Titanchise Kanwan-good luck.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday-Saying goodbye to Maria

Maria walked out of the hospital today.

Sadly, I wasn't there to see it, and I felt really bad about it. Maria had originally been scheduled to leave yesterday, but the floods prevented any taxi's from her home city of Cuzco from coming then. I did meet her this morning just after she woke up. Her mom was there with her traditional top white hat that reflected her Quechua background. Maria was a little more contemporary, a trendy red sweater and knit beanie.

It was 10:30 am and Maria Elena was scheduled to leave, but her taxi didn’t show up. One thirty rolled around and still no show. “it will be here in few moments,” she said–it was becoming a joke since every time I checked on her, "It will be here in a few moments," was the normal response. But now the team was heading to the cabs, we had a scheduled trip to Urubamba to see the market and famed potter Pablo Seminario, known worldwide for his earthenware, and I had to do an interview with two docs for the day. As much as I hated to do it, because I wanted shots of her leaving in the cab, I had to ax it. I had footage of her walking out for a breath of fresh air a couple hours before as she was exercising, that would have to do . Via con Dios, Maria, we wish you very well. Thanks for teaching me Quechua.

Andy,one of the physical therapists, gave Maria a strong workout, a 40 ft walker stroll and a hike up the stairs and down. Her knee was a little swollen on the operated leg, mostly because of the exercise before.

Maria Elena is a special case for Dr. Shaw and Dr.Vigeland. She is the first replacement hip surgery they ever had for a mission like this, and I think they are still sweating bullets no infections manifest. It’s one of the most sensitive surgeries to undertake because if infection does occur, it is very difficult to fight. Typically, such an operation is performed by them using level IV environment suits in a super sterile environment, but they took every precaution they could since that wasn't available. And in a country where the government doctors don’t appreciate visiting talent, she could find herself a leper among the ill, and that is a warrant for death.

The patient schedule opened the door for only a half day work load today, since the floods prevented many children from coming for treatment, and a few kids that would need complicated surgeries wouldn't have the followup from the doctors needed because their operations had been delayed by the power outages the two days prior. So the workload consisted of some cast changes, including Vicki, whose other hip dysplasia would be approached with cutting some muscle and connective tissue in hopes of relaxing the ball joint back into the hip instead of the more gruelling procedure of forcing it back in like the first hip since it caused more blood loss; physical therapy work, and a few prosthetic and brace modifications.

The drive to Urubamba was a slow one. Rock slides completely covered the roads in some spots, and the river flowed over others. When we got there, several homes had been washed away, businesses destroyed. People were still working to fortify some areas with soil, building levies to help if the namesake river continues to swell. The pottery gallery was fantastic. My mother is a potter, and I think I have some small appreciation for the craft, and Pablo and his wife truly made some beautiful work.

We sampled food up and down the narrow market square, indulging in the boiled corn on the cob with grape sized kernels. This is the corn that the U.S. usually experiences as corn nuts. I have never been a particular fan of corn nuts myself, but as corn on the cob, supremely delicious!

The drivers hastened us back since they didn't want to be caught after dark on the hazardous roads, so we ended up heading back early. It was 7pm when we arrived, and I found out Maria had just left an hour before. She had been waiting nine hours for her taxi, and expected a four hour drive back home.

Todd, his daughter Maddie and I hiked up above the village at sunset since we got back so early. It was nice the finally get some nature in!

The Quechua word of the day is : Iman su tiki? What is your name?