We've completed week 24 of the 365 Day People Picture Project. If this project were a marathon, we're right around mile 11. Day 162 - Mason
Sunday, I headed back down to Esther Short Park in search of a subject. It's been a gamble here, on whether or not I'll find a subject, but I love the little park so I seem to go there at least once a week. When the farmers market isn't in season, the park can be pretty sleepy. Unlike Portland's waterfront, which is filled with interesting people no matter what the time or season, there are times of the day and year in which the only life you'll find in Vancouver's near-waterfront park are the squirrels!
As soon as I arrived downtown and before I even found a parking spot, I spotted Mason with camera in tow. A person with a camera will most likely agree to let me take their picture. I parked and then began my chase to catch up with him.
Mason is a photographer and he was actually shooting for a client. He was working for a bank and getting images for the bank's upcoming community campaign, but he paused long enough to let me take his picture.
I asked Mason about the happiest thing happening in his life and was envious when he replied, "I'm moving to Hawaii in a month." Mason is moving to the Big Island, so I asked if he happened to be a scuba diver. He is, so we talked about the night dives with the Manta Rays.
I asked Mason if he's performed a recent act of kindness and since he's moving, he's been giving away a lot of his possessions.
Because of Mason's upcoming move, his website is going under construction but he shared his flickr page. I love Mason's work! I'm happy for him and his move to Hawaii, but I wished I had met Mason a few months ago and we could have become photography friends. I forgot to ask Mason if he's also an underwater photographer. I'm going to keep an eye on his Flickr to see his work evolve as he makes the transition to his new surroundings in paradise.
Day 163 - Crystal
"The Girl with Stars in her Eyes."
I met Crystal on the patio of the Doug Fir. Shauna and I had met there on Monday and before leaving, we headed back to the fire pit in search of a subject. We saw, what we thought a was a couple, hanging out by the fire. I asked the guy if I could take his/their picture simply because he was closer to me. He half-heartedly agreed but said I should really take Crystal's picture because she's so pretty. I've mentioned before how much I love it when people's friends volunteer them to be subjects! Crystal agreed to let me take her picture and it was only later that we learned that the guy who volunteered her for the picture wasn't actually with her. He had been a complete stranger to Crystal as well!
Crystal has an actual star-shape in her right eye. (her left eye as you're looking at the picture.) After I had taken a few pictures, she mentioned her special feature and hoped I had captured it. I've been debating which picture to share with you. Although the fire pit is the greatest place to meet new and interesting people, it's actually quite challenging to take a picture there. Not only did I nearly catch myself on fire, but because I'm inexperienced, I don't yet know how to control the ISO and aperture for the conditions. Once I learn this, I bet some of my favorite pictures will come from that very spot! I wanted you to be able to see Crystal's star, but I love her picture in black & white over color. (Black & White seems to not only be my personal preference, and I have a tendency to look at something and envision how it will look B&W, but I think it's slightly more forgiving of my mistakes while I'm in the process of learning.) Even in the B&W version, you can see her special and beautiful feature.
What started out to be just a quick shoot-and-run mission to find a subject, turned into an extended stay at the fire pit, just hanging out and talking with Crystal and the other people who gathered as the evening went on. Crystal is not only nice and very pleasant company, but she's quite interesting as well! She's also a photographer! She describes her work as abstract.
When I asked Crystal about the happiest thing happened in her life, she told us she's going to school and currently "learning about neuroscience and how it connects to self awareness." Crystal told us that if we spend 20 minutes a day in thought/reflection/meditation, it improves brain cell function by 30%! Hopefully my brain cells are working efficiently and I'm reporting this accurately. Once again, I think it's time to get a recorder if I'm going to be meeting such interesting people!
I asked Crystal if she's performed an act of kindness and she said that she and a friend had just been to Washington Park and she spent time picking up litter.
Day 164 - Sarah and Brian
I met Sarah and Brian, walking down the street. I spotted them immediately and because they pretty much ooze niceness, I was optimistic they would say yes if I asked them if I could take their picture. I approached them at the crosswalk and they agreed! We waited for the light signal to change and I accompanied them across the street.
Sarah and Brian are also both interesting people. I'm getting to meet so many great people in this project! They just moved to Portland a week ago and I'm happy I got to be a part of the unofficial welcoming committee!
I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives and Sarah responded, "my relationship." She's inspired by her relationship with Brian. When I asked if she's performed a recent act of kindness, she told me that she had just helped and elderly woman who had spilled out nearly the entire contents of her purse. Sarah wanted to help the woman but also be respectful of her space and things. The woman thanked her.
Brian is a performing story teller and he's happy about their move to Portland and hopeful it will be beneficial to his work. He's another person who I plan to keep an eye out for and hope to catch a performance soon! (You can also learn more about his work here.) Brian was having trouble thinking of a recent act of kindness in which he's performed but Sarah came in with an assist and explained that he's always doing kind things for her. She was recently sick with a stomach ache and Brian cut up ginger to make a remedy.
Brian and Sarah were both so gentle and nice! Sarah shared her blog with me. If you check it out, you'll discover that she's quite a writer and poet!
I'm wishing Sarah and Brian the best of luck in Portland.
Day 165 - Derek
I first met Derek's dog as she waited for Derek outside of a building. I visited with her for a few minutes, went inside, and was happy to meet her human when I came out. Since I had already introduced myself to his dog, I figured I should make his acquaintance as well, and ask if I could take his picture.
Derek agreed but he was in a hurry, so I had to be quick!
"I just got married, I play music, I'm a happy man," was Derek's response when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life.
Day 166 - Brendan
Brendan was another person I met just walking down the street. He caught my attention because of his slight resemblance to Portland's former Mayor, Sam Adams.
The happiest thing happening in Brendan's life are his two kids and his family.
I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he tries to do things all the time, but recently, he had given a few dollars to someone.
Day 167 - Jason David
I had one of my biggest challenges taking Jason David's picture. He's actually the one who brought it up and we both laughed when I confessed that I had indeed taken more pictures of him than anyone else in the project, but I did my best to assure him that it was me who was photographically challenged and not him!
Jason had been having a hard day (actually, more like a hard year) and he was having a difficult time shaking it off and it was coming through in the pictures. I could easily see Jason's sparkle when we were talking, but when I would start to take his picture, he would tense back up again and we just couldn't get a good shot. So, we tried to work with the tension and exaggerate it by trying the squinch. My timing was off and the attempts at the squinch resulted in him just looking sleepy or just a tad too tough-guy. I felt bad because he felt bad, but I explained that if I were better skilled, I would know how to help him feel more relaxed. I was definitely seeing a nice person in front of me, and he was fun and friendly to talk with, but because this is such an awkward situation, we both had to work at it. I mean, c'mon…you're having a tough day and then some complete stranger asks you if you could take their picture? That's not uncomfortable or anything!
After all of our shots, I ended up with two favorites. This picture, and a picture in which he was happy and mid-laugh. I debated which one to show you and after working so hard at creating a happier look, I opted to share this one with you because I like that it had just the right amount edge, and I also see a hint of a resemblance to Russell Crowe. I know I've been working on not chopping off the tops of people's heads and my gut reaction was to discard this picture. You would think that I would have shared the other picture with you for this very reason alone, but after studying the work of other actual photographer's, I've discovered they don't all automatically discount a photo just because of a slight head-chopping-off. I've seen some photographers who even seem to do so intentionally. It is still my intention to eliminate this from my personal style and I understand that I've contradicted myself in sharing this with you. I just like and chose this picture, in spite of my error, simply because you can see Jason David is a nice guy, but his look also creates a mood…you just get the feeling that he's pensive. I also pick up on sort of a musician vibe as well. Perhaps it's me, but I just look at this picture and wonder what he's thinking about.
I asked Jason David the happiest thing happening in his life right now and although he's experienced some turbulence, he was quick to answer, "my career." Jason loves his job. I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he said, "I tip well." He then tried to dismiss this, thinking it didn't really count because it's not something he goes out of his way to do, it is simply a part of his daily life. We then had a nice discussion that this is actually a great act of kindness and is really one of the ways in which we can do kind things on a daily basis.
Day 168 - Josiah
Josiah was a runner I met on my favorite trail. A friend from work joined me on my walk this morning and we did 7 miles. This was the longest distance she's ever gone! We did the walk as sort of an assessment so she could decide if she would like to do a half-marathon in April. (She did excellent by the way, and I think I'm now going to have a new half-marathon buddy.) We crossed paths with Josiah on the trail. He was impossible not to notice. The guy is fit!
We were under time constraints and I was hoping when we finished that I would be able to quickly find a subject at the trailhead. Josiah had just finished his run and stretching, so I asked if I could take his picture.
I asked Josiah about the happiest thing happening in his life and he's about to realize a dream, 16 years in the making. He's always wanted to fly missionaries in third world countries and he's nearly finished with requirements for both piloting and missionary work. He and his wife will be leaving on their first mission soon.
When I asked Josiah if he's performed a recent act of kindness, he couldn't think of anything recent and I told him it was ok, his entire life is about to become an act of kindness. I think he wished his wife were with him at that moment so I could have asked her that question. He described her as an incredible person who is constantly performing acts of kindness and it's the reason he married her.
Thank you for reading this week! It's great having you as my partners in this project! Now, I have a question for you…can you think of any new questions that you'd like for me to ask the subjects? I've been so stuck on our two questions and although I feel like I should change things up a bit, I also really enjoy hearing about the happiest thing happening in people's lives. Even if things are difficult for people, the question helps them to identify at least one positive thing happening in their lives. It is my hope that after we're finished with the picture and they're on their way, they reflect on the answer they had given me and even more happy thoughts come to mind, and for a moment, their happiness is multiplied. I also like to find out about the acts of kindness performed by people because it is my hope that by us learning about the kindness of others, in a tiny little way, we could potentially breed and spread even more kindness. So, what questions would you like me to ask? I'd love the questions to be not only interesting and enlightening for us, but also positive for the subjects as well.
If you've been a subject, I give you my sincere appreciation and thanks. You've made this project happen and I feel honored that you let me take your picture and share it here. I hope you were having fun. I was, and I thank you for that!
Have a great week!