This week...

No work makes Jack a dull boy. So...the other day I and and a photog friend (and former co-worker) took a few hours to work on portrait technique and, since a photographer should have portraits of themself, shot portraits for each other. I've got a bunch to work through, but here's two of Fran I like very much. I used to be all about shooting with natural light, but in the past year I've started introducing more controlled light into my portraits.

Parade of images

Not a cloud was in sight as Edmonds residents crowded the sidewalks this morning for the town's annual July 4 parade. I and a fellow photographer geared up and made our way through the crowd, capturing images, striving to capture the essence of small-town Independence Day.

Respect America. Because if you don't, I'm pretty sure Smilin' Joe Spanglepants here will hunt you down.

It would've been easy to miss some of the smaller participants...

Lord Vader, I find your lack of red, white and blue disturbing.

Face off!

A sunset kind of love

After a few weeks of circling the runway, so to speak, I've landed. I moved into an apartment in Edmonds, just a little bit north of downtown Seattle. It's a great little shoreline town that reminds me in some ways of Ventura, California.
Yesterday, I capped off an afternoon of garage sales and furniture hunting by walking down to the waterfront, taking in the sunset and capturing a few images along the way.
This is probably one of my favorite images recently. It's candid, well-framed and (despite being just a little blurry) tells a story of a moment in time. This couple only stopped long enough for me to pull out my phone and quickly frame a shot before they moved on.

Seattle moments

The past month has been crazy. After nearly 11 years in Southern California, I packed my life into the car and headed north, to the Evergreen State. It's time for a new chapter, a new season. So I'm settling in and getting acquainted to life in the Pacific Northwest, moving into a place minutes from downtown Seattle.
While I've been doing a lot of iPhone shooting lately, a few days ago I pulled out the SLR as well, and wandered downtown with a fellow photographer. Seattle is a great city for street shooting.

Coming and going...

I've fallen in love with the iPhone as a photo tool. There's nothing like having a quality image capture device on you at all times, particularly one that is part of your phone and takes up no extra pocket space.
Lately, I'm shooting mostly black-and-white images with Hipstamatic.

Sight unseen

Sometimes you just know you want to take someone's photo sight unseen. Janelle was telling me about her friend Channapha, and how's she's the director of a nonprofit...and a great cook...and the inspiration struck. I told Janelle that Channapha sounded really interesting and I'd love to shoot some portraits of her. I'm happy to say she was game, and we had a fun time shooting photos in her D.C. home and in the surrounding neighborhood.

This first image is one of the last ones I shot, but I started this post with it because I feel it reflects a lot about Channapha, who I found to be extremely warm and vibrant.

Not only is it awesome when you find two sweet vintage vehicles parked on the street where you're shooting, it's even better when they're next to each other and there's some color coordination.

So, a lot of Channapha's life is taken up by her work as executive director of Legacies of War. The nonprofit group is focused on bringing more attention to the bombing of Laos during the Vietnam conflict. In short, from 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of ordnance over Laos during 580,000 bombing missions — equal to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. The bombing was part of the United States' secret war in Laos to support the Royal Lao government against Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army. Of the 260 million cluster bombs dropped, about 30 percent didn't explode, leaving the landscape littered with unexploded ordnance that has killed at least 30,000 people and inured some 20,000. (Visit the Legacies of War site for more info.)

In addition to her work with Legacies of War, Channapha — who is Laotian — is an absolutely amazing cook. (Trust me. The bowl of nam, a rice dish, I had made me forget all about the photos I was there to shoot.) So I thought it only natural to get a portrait of her in her element.

Annnnd, back out to the street. I love old trucks, especially when they coordinate with the colors someone is wearing.

These last four images I shot at Channapha's house. I loved the way the light fell in the living room.

And there you have it. Sometimes all it takes for an awesome photoshoot is great late afternoon light, sticking primarily with an 85mm lens and having a subject who's fun to be around. (Side note: I was also shooting some film that day, so those images will probably pop up here on the blog sometime soon.)
Channapha, thanks so much for being game to hang out for a while and create some great images!

I owe most of this to Joe McNally

It's no secret I'm a big fan of the work of veteran photographer Joe McNally. The man's a master of creative lighting and shoots some fantastic images. His use of small flash and rear-curtain shutter has had a huge impact on the way I shoot. During Sunday's fun session with Crystal (A good friend of an old co-worker of mine. Thanks, Facebook!), I had in mind a few shots on the D.C. Metro system. This one drew subconscious inspiration from Joe's great image of singer Fiona Apple on a crowded NYC subway car. Ok, I'll stop going on and on like a fanboy now.

Like a mountain stream

Above the hustle-bustle of Eastern Market on a busy weekend afternoon, those were the lyrics I heard cut through a hundred conversations: " a mountain stream."
I can't think of a better way to describe Steve Long's voice than to say it is, indeed, like a mountain stream. Fluid and flowing, peaceful at times, rocky at others.
He's at Eastern Market in D.C. every weekend, providing a perfect soundtrack for sunny afternoons. His version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" is unlike any I've heard. Mr. Long took a classic that everyone knows and made it his own.
If you happen to be in D.C. on a weekend, drop by Eastern Market and look (and listen) for Steve Long.

A fine day for a parade

I overslept a little this morning, but there was still time to hop on the Metro and head down to D.C.'s 40th annual St. Patrick's Day parade. Which was held, yes, on March 13. I suppose it's more convenient to do it on a weekend. It was an absolutely perfect day for a parade along the National Mall, with clear skies, temperatures around 62, a slight breeze and trees starting to bud.
You won't find many typical parade photos here, because...if you've seen one parade you've seen them all. I'd rather focus on the little details that make up the day.
Look closely, and this first image tells you a lot about the fact that it's a public event in Washington, D.C., both patriotic and national pride in nature.
(Side note: this firefighter was kind enough to pose for a portrait next to his engine, which I'll post once that film is developed.)

Not only was this firefighter sporting an awesome mustache, he dyed it green for the day.

There was absolutely nothing wild about this bunch.

This awesome marching band was ahead of a group of fire engines that all had their sirens blaring. Somehow, it all blended into one cacophonous, raucous unintentionally cool composition.

I mean, if you have a green Cadillac, why not bring it out to the parade?

Is this man not awesomely Irish? I dare you to disagree. (Though the conflicting "Kiss me, I'm Irish" and "Honorary Irishman" buttons seemed a bit confusing.)

dynamic symmetry

Last weekend I hitched a red-eye to Washington, D.C. for the first time in about 16 years. The mission was to help photograph what turned out to be a delightful outdoor wedding (despite the threat of rain). In reality, it was a mini-vacation, drinking in the sights, sounds and tastes of the Capitol city and spending time with friends old and new. Here, in no particular order, are some captured images from along the way...

I apparently picked the perfect time to visit Mt. Vernon. Few tourists were in sight and it was a quiet, sunny and warm afternoon as I ambled the grounds where George Washington once lived.
The streets of the district are as visually interesting by night as they are during the day.

Ben's Chili Bowl. A D.C. institution, and deliciously unhealthy.

The hallway of Hunted House, a hip vintage furnishings shop on 14th St.

My walk down the National Mall and back concluded with wonderful sunset vistas...

The Vietnam War Memorial is simple and contemplative.

The Smithsonian Institute castle, a visual delight of red stone, is almost easy to miss during a walk along the Mall.

The view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

The weather on Friday was perfect, with photogenic skies, warm sun and gentle breezes. And jazz in gardens, filling the air while tourists and D.C. natives alike traversed the length of the Mall.