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!