Here’s what we’ve been up to…

Our Scars Don’t Define Us

Black and white portrait of burn victim

Many of you know that I spent about 10 years working on a series called Skeleton in the Closet, telling the stories of people with eating disorders.  I also spent another several years working on Astra Velum, exploring how women often feel that their freckles are flaws.  I wanted to show them as something beautiful.

So it seemed a natural fit for me to work with Indira on her project Blissful13.  When she called me up, she explained that she’d experienced severe burns on her body as a toddler in Bosnia, and has lived with the consequences ever since.  She tells her story like this:

Friday the 13th, April 1984 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Exactly 6 months from my birthday. My mother made every day’s usual – turkish coffee and had intentions to enjoy spring sunny morning. She set the coffee on the table and walked towards the balcony to direct a delivery person what to do with the big truck full of crap – yes literally it was some kind of garden soil. She saw me follow her in a walking stroller but since I couldn’t make it past the door I turned around and decided to flip the tray of hot coffee onto myself instead. My mother immediately put me under the cold running water, took my baby clothes off and called for help to be taken to the hospital. At the local hospital they have given her pediatric IV to feed me with a spoon and sent her to another hospital in Croatia where I was hospitalized for two months.

Intimage portrait of burn victimArtistic portrait of burn victim

After a lifetime of hiding her scars, Indira wanted to go public.  To reveal them.  And in doing so, to help others.

This is me being raw with you, at 33 years old, and for the first time publicly revealing my scars and sharing my journey in hopes to inspire and encourage others. Or simply to say that life doesn’t end here nor do our scars define us. It took time and hard work to come to this point in my life, I finally came to terms with the label – Burn Survivor. I have learned to accept my 3rd degree burns, I don’t love them. However, if this second chapter of my journey provides some comfort to you, I am very certain that I will eventually learn to love them. It is time we look beyond our scars and start truly living and showing the world our worth and what we have to offer.

Photo portrait of burn victimVibrant portrait of burn victim

I was so honored to be able to spend several hours with her in the studio, creating something beautiful out of something many would want to hide.  I have so much respect for Indira and her courage and beauty, and am really proud to have my photographs featured on her new website, www.blissful13.com.    You’ve got to check it out.  It’s beautiful.

Portrait of runner in Portland OregonPortrait of runner stretching in Portland, Oregon

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Portland Razor Company: Handmade in Oregon

Location Portrait photography of Portland Maker at Portland Razor Co

As part of my Portland Makers portrait series, I recently visited the very cool offices of Portland Razor Company.  I wanted to see firsthand how they handmake their straight razors and strops, and to capture the process on film.

To me, Portland Razor exemplifies the spirit of the Portland ‘Maker’: locally handcrafted items, made at the hightest level, resurrecting an age-old craft in the modern era.  And marketed really smartly.  To quote their tagline, they truly are “On the cutting edge of antiquity.”

Environmental portraits of Portland Makers at Portland Razor Co

Scott Miyako and Alex Pletcher started Portland Razor Co together, and have grown it into a very respectable little company.   To quote them:

Portland Razor Co. handcrafts modern straight razors and shaving supplies in Portland, OR using high quality materials and traditional manufacturing techniques. We are here to supply all of the essential tools and knowledge you need to never throw another razor into the trash again. We believe that straight razors can enrich your life beyond providing a terrific shave.  The straight razor demands respect and responsibility: treat the blade well and it will treat you well.  Carry this same responsibility with you into the world and wonderful things can happen.

Photography of Portland Makers at Portland Razor Co

Hunter Lea (shown here working on a walnut scale) is their lead bladesmith.  He showed me the process of making a blade and scale, from raw steel to shipping to their loyal customers.  It’s a fascinating process, to take raw materials and finish them into exquisitely beautiful and superbly functional objects.

Photography of making a razor at Portland Razor CoPhotography of making a razor at Portland Razor Co

The day I was at the shop in SW Portland, they were just finishing up their very cool Portland Shave Shop.  Set up in the front of their shop, you can schedule a shave with some of the best barbers in town, in a classic barber shop setting, using PRC’s razors.

Be sure to check out their website (artfully designed and maintained by Alex herself): Portland Razor Co.

And then be sure to contact me about telling the story of your beautiful business.

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The Superhero Bride

Bridal Fashion Photography PortlandHaving been a professional photographer for nearly 2 decades, I’ve picked up a lot of wisdom along the way.  A few times a year, I have the opportunity to share this wisdom with students wanting to learn about portrait photography, location lighting, and the ins-and-outs of being a professional photographer.  And I absolutely love it.  I love the teaching, but I also love the images we get to create in each class.  With no particular assignment from a client, I have the freedom to concoct whatever scenario I want, and use it as a teaching opportunity.  So I try to come up with some fun location portrait photography ‘assignment’ for the class, and run with it.

In one of my classes at Pacific Northwest College of Art, one of my students was the director of Portland’s Japanese Garden.  One day, he generously offered to let us photograph in the Garden, after hours, as a class.  Now, this is a big deal, because you can’t just take 15 people into the Japanese Garden and start setting up a bunch of lights and gear and models and props.  You can’t even walk in and take portraits.  Unless the Director is a student of yours, and is generous.  And he was.

So we had a couple hours before dark to photograph in this beautiful space.  And I thought: why not pair an elegant bride (with some references to Japanese style in the dress and hair) with a goofy superhero wannabe?  And that’s exactly what we did.  The lovely Lauren Gilbertson modeled for us, and here are a couple of the resulting images.

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Belinda, Louis, Zenzo, and HIV

editorial portrait photographer portland

Belinda Beresford with a keepsake from South Africa

Belinda Beresford tells the story of sitting for two days with a woman in Zimbabe, dying of AIDS: “…We sat with her, and her family, cleaning her, trying to moisten her mouth, and bleakly aware that the only thing we could give was human contact to a traumatized family. The dead woman’t youngest children cried openly, the eldest ones tried to hide their tears.”

She went on to write about her experience in The Guardian, which led, in time, to more HIV/AIDS activism. And to adoption.

“I was approached by a woman who ran a refuge for HIV-positive women and their children in Johannesburg. I asked about a child I had seen previously while doing a story. ‘His parents are dead, he needs a home, will you take him?’ she asked. I wasn’t looking for another child, I had a young son of my own. But here was something else I could do. Help one child, even as I hadn’t been able to help the many other children I had seen.”

That child is her son Zenzo. Zenzo was lucky: he did not contract HIV because his biological mother had the foresight to use what was then a controversial antiretroviral therapy. He is now a senior in high school, who lives with his mom and her husband, HIV-vaccine all-star Louis Picker.  I had the privilege of photographing their family recently, at their home in Portland, for the current issue of Onward magazine. Read more of Belinda and Louis’s stories to combat the HIV/AIDS crisis here.

editorial portrait photographer portland

Belinda and Zenzo in the magazine Onward.

portland editorial portrait photographer

Louis Picker relaxes at home with his dog

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Christa Pierce Knows That She Loves You

editorial portrait photographer portland oregonPortland author and illustrator Christa Pierce recently published her first children’s book, Do You Know That I Love You? (Harper Collins). I met up with her in her studio and photographed her for Response magazine. We had a great time talking art and illustration, and I got a copy of her book for my daughter.

Need a great illustrator?  Check out her work here.

portrait of an artist Portlandportrait of an artist PortlandEditorial portrait photographer Portland

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Measure 97 Video and Still Photography

political campaign videographer

This fall we shot both video and stills for the Measure 97 campaign here in Oregon. And the fun part? It was all in Spanish, allowing me to put my second language to work as I directed on set, and as I photographed in Latino businesses around town.

Shooting in 4K video for the commercial captured gorgeous footage for the TV spot. And it also allowed us to grab beautiful, hi-res images for use in additional print ads at the same time.

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Author Gregory Wolfe

author photography Portland

I photograph a lot of authors, speakers, scientists, and other professionals in my line of work, and really enjoy it. These fascinating people are always interesting to talk with as we photograph together. Recently, author, publisher, and educator Gregory Wolfe asked me to create a new image for his upcoming books and publicity. We spent an enjoyable, foggy morning together, photographing, talking, and eating breakfast together.

Interesting note: Gregory’s magazine, Image Journal, published a feature on me and my fine art work a few years back. The cover image was taken from a large series I created on adolescence, called Welcome to Wonderland, which you can see on my fine art site. It’s one of my favorite covers.

adolescent photographer portland

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Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

Every time we get to photograph for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, it’s special. Whether we’re working with their compassionate doctors, or telling the story of a child that’s battling cancer, or creating a new set of branding images in the studio, we always come away happy that we get to do such meaningful work.

We recently photographed for their branding update, creating images in the studio and at the hospital, showcasing their new vibrant, graphic look. (You can currently see one of our images on the home page of their site.)

Two days + dozens of children + several amazing doctors + a couple of superheroes = some pretty happy clients.

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Teaching and Photographing in Italy

“Before the Fall” Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Never one to turn down an opportunity for adventure–especially in Europe–I had the privilege of teaching again in Italy this spring. Two weeks in Abruzzo and Piemonte + 50 art students and staff + lots of time for teaching, mentoring, and shooting = one happy photographer.

The above picture was taken shortly before I fell through the floor of a 250 year old stone house. Ask me about it sometime. It was an unforgettable experience.

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Cancer Survivors and the Gleevec Anniversary

healthcare advertising photography portland oregon

I have a dear friend who had cancer. I guess you could say she still does, but thanks to Gleevec, the world’s first targeted cancer therapy, she’s alive and well today.

So any time I get to tell the story of Gleevec, or of those it helps, it’s personal. That’s why I love this story about Katie, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was six. Fifteen years later, at 21, she’s a dancer, coach, and student.

Working with Gard Communications and the OHSU Foundation, we photographed Katie and a few others who started on Gleevec when it was developed 15 years ago. It was something of a moving experience, to work with people who are alive and thriving today, just like my friend, thanks to a treatment developed right here in Portland.

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