I'm 44 1/2 but my mom still calls me "precious" and "baby girl," and I secretly like it. 

I've worked in sales/customer service for the past 20 years, for a screen print and embroidery shop in Portland, Oregon.  I love my job. I'm inspired by my clients and co-workers.  I'm surrounded by entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, do-gooders, go-getters, and hard-working visionaries and creatives. If a 19 year-old comes into the shop with dreams of starting his own clothing line, I view my job as more than just simply processing his t-shirt order. It is my job to help make his dream a reality in any way that I can.

I'm surrounded by so much creativity and talent, at times, it has caused me to feel inadequate for not being an artist or entrepreneur.  Being surrounded by people who have such great aspirations, has also caused me to question whether I've been truly content in life, or if I've accidentally slipped into complacency.  

I've had the privilege, both personally and professionally, of observing others in realizing their dreams, and I think it's time I start the realization of my own. I decided it was time to push myself harder, to experience new things, and for once in my life - to create. 

I've really only had three "dreams" in life.  Two of which I've shared with most people who know me, and one dream so private, I hardly acknowledged it myself.  

The first dream was to complete a marathon.  The challenge was that I'm not a runner, and nothing about my body is conducive to running or marathons. However, in the past few years, I've walked and completed 4 marathons and 5 half-marathons.  I came to realize that 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles. It doesn't matter how, or how long it takes, we all cross the same finish line.  What matters most is having the courage to start, and to push yourself to keep going and finish, even when every cell in your body tells you to stop.

My second dream sometimes feels more like fantasy than anything I could ever make a reality.  I aspire to write a screen play, or a book that becomes a movie. The challenge with this dream, is that I stopped writing several years ago.  I retired from drinking about 9 years ago and discovered that my writing bone was connected to my drinking bone.  It was so easy to write after happy hour with the girls. Words and ideas flowed as freely as the as the martinis. Now, every single word is forced and it is with great effort that I manage to write even a single sentence.  Just as one must train for a marathon, starting this blog was my way of training to write a book.  If you're reading this - thank you for being my training partner.

My other dream, the one so private I've never even allowed myself to consider and had never told another person about -  was to become a photographer. This very private and personal dream is happening and evolving publicly, and with the help of not only friends and family, but some very kind-hearted strangers.  (More about that process below.)

My current personal mission statement, or life's purpose - is to encourage and inspire ordinary people, to do extraordinary things.  I hope that you will be inspired by the people in my photo project/blog.  They have been an inspiration to me to start living, and to keep going.  

Thank you for stopping by.

Miss Ellanea


The 365 Day Picture Project / 365 More People Pictures / 1,111 Day Photo Streak

I knew that in order to start a blog,  I would need visual content in order to keep things interesting.  There was just one problem - I didn't have a camera, nor did I know how to use one.

My husband, always supportive of my endeavors, gifted me with my first DSLR.  The first weekend I got the camera, I went to a junkyard, set the camera on "auto," and proceeded to spend several hours taking photos of rusty old cars. That's all it took. I was completely obsessed with photography from the moment I stepped onto the junkyard property. It felt like I was finally doing something I was meant to be doing my entire life.  I began to study people and objects in an entirely new way, and everything felt so beautiful.  I would see these beautiful images in my mind, but I would become paralyzed and too self-conscious to actually take a picture.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I felt embarrassed if someone would see me taking a photograph, so I wouldn't. 

An idea began to form about a way that I could learn photography, and force myself to get over myself.  The idea smoldered for a while and I expected it to fade away, but instead it became a blazing burning desire that I couldn't kill, even though I tried to talk myself out of it.  Inspired by the "streakers" I had read about, runners who run every single day for "x" amount of days, I decided that I would challenge myself to a "streak" of taking a picture of a person, every single day, for 365 Days.    This would force me to use my camera every day, and it would force me to do so in public.  It would also force me out of my comfort zone by approaching and interacting with strangers.

I knew a 365 Day Challenge  would also come with  complications, some of which I hadn't even considered. After thinking about a 365 day challenge for so long that I couldn't even think about anything else,  I finally just decided to start.  The 365 Day People Picture Project was born.  It was just as easy and as complicated as that. I just had to start.   

I shot on auto for several weeks, while reading and trying to learn more about the technical side of photography and basic camera operation.  By setting a goal for myself of 365 Days, I knew I wouldn't stop.  I knew I couldn't stop.  Like a marathon, I knew I must keep going, even when every cell in my body told me it was time to stop. 

I would take a picture of a person, every single day,  post the picture on Instagram, and then blog a summary of the subjects from the previous week. The 365 Day People Picture Project quickly became the entire blog. 

 One downside of sharing the images daily, is that I've shown some pretty horrible work. I really blew it several times.  I blew it more times than I was successful.   I've learned one big rule in photography is to be selective with what you choose to publish. You should only share your best work.  The majority of the photos I've taken are far from being good work.  I'm ok with sharing the entire process, including my "failures," because this project was as much about stick-to-it-ness, as it was about photography.  With photography, there are days you tell yourself some pretty horrible things:  "I suck." "I'm stupid." "I have no business owning a camera."  "I am an embarrassment."  The point is, if we stick with something, eventually...we will suck less.  If sharing the entire process encourages even just one person, then exposing work of which I am not proud, is completely worth it. 

I completed the first 365 Day People Picture project and decided I wasn't ready to call it quits. I hadn't made as much progress as I had hoped for. I still had so much to learn!  Plus, taking a picture of a person every day had become such a part of my life, I was unwilling to stop. I loved meeting new people every day!  On day 366, I started the second year-long streak of taking picture of a person every single day.  The second 365 Day Project was titled 365 More People Pictures.  

My second 365 Day Project flew by in what felt like just a matter of a few weeks. After doing something every day for 2 years, you've pretty much created a deeply engrained routine for yourself, which actually borders on an obsession.  Taking a picture of a person each day is now as much a part of my life as breathing. When the second 365 Day Project ended, I decided I would string the two years together, add another 270 days, and go for a streak of 1,000 straight days.  A few weeks after deciding to aim for 1,ooo straight days, I realized I should go for 1,111 days instead. So, that's the current plan and what I'm working on now- the last 381 days, of the 1,111 day project. 

During the process of teaching myself photography and the two 365 Day Projects,  I carried my camera with me everywhere.  I carried my camera with me when I went to concerts/shows and I would try to use it, but  I was a disaster. I was so self-conscious that I would only snap off a few  photos.  Of those few photos, every photo I took was blurry and dark and destined to be deleted. 

Then, Langhorne Slim happened.  In February 2015, Langhorne Slim played at Doug Fir.  I had already seen Langhorne Slim a few times and loved him!  I decided before that show that would make a real, genuine, effort to photographs the show.  I wouldn't just pop off a few snaps, get embarrassed, and then give up. I would genuinely make an effort to be deliberate with the photos I would take/make.  



The result - I ended up with several images that were actually almost-exposed and almost-in-focus.  I had three images that didn't completely suck. In fact, they were 3 pretty cool images.  That's all it took.  Much like my junkyard-awakening, from that moment on, a fire was lit and I became obsessed with concert photography. It feels as though I've stumbled upon what I was meant to do in life.  Or at the very least, I've found love.  

I've had failure after failure since that one show because what I didn't realize at the time, is that Langhorne Slim happens to be one of the most charismatic, energetic, and emotional performers I've ever seen.  Basically, he puts on a damn good show!  His face is full of expression and emotion. He's a photographer's dream!  I ended up with good shots that night because of his performance.  Even though my "success" in those three pictures was entirely due to the subject, that one night changed my life.  That one night, those three pictures,  will likely shape my future. 

Since that night, I've been shooting shows on average of at least once a week.  I shoot as many shows as I can, so that I can continue to learn about photography, learn about music/bands, and learn about myself. 

I don't yet know what the future will hold as far as concert photography,  but right now - I'm honored to have the opportunity to be a contributor to Vortex Magazine. I feel privileged to get the opportunity to photograph and document music in portland, and play a very small part of such an inspiring and dedicated publication. I'm so grateful to Vortex for giving me the opportunity to continue to grow and learn, and share with others my newfound love and passion.   

If you ever see me at a show...please say "hi," and be warned, I will probably ask to take your picture for my project.