365 Day People Picture Project - Week 28

Hi! We're finished with week 28 of the 365 Day People Picture Project!  This has been one of my favorite weeks because of all of the kind people I met who agreed to be subjects in this project.  This week has been a whole lot of fun with some really nice people!


Day 190 - Johnny B., Naomi, Matt and Dick


This is (from left to right) Johnny B., Naomi, Matt, and Dick.  I met them outside of the Ink Travelers Tattoo Convention, in Vancouver.

I had been rejected a few times down at the park and remembered the Tattoo Convention was happening right down the street, at the Red Lion Hotel.  I figured the show would have been winding down at that time, but hoped I'd still be able to find people in the parking lot.

It's still really hard for me to take a group photo because I always end up with at least one person who is blown-out or out of focus.  I still love this picture though, but that's because I really liked this group of people.

I asked each of them if they've performed an act of kindness and Dick was the first to respond.  As Dick was packing up for the show, he noticed a homeless person standing outside his shop. It was cold and the man wasn't wearing a jacket,  so Dick gave the man a hoody from his shop.  (I didn't find out the name of Dick's shop, but I think he's from the Seattle area)

Johnny B. recently had a close call as a pedestrian, when he was nearly hit by a car.  The woman driving the car was extremely upset that she had nearly hit Johnny B., and instead of giving her a dirty look or getting upset with her, he gave her a Namaste-like gesture and said "have a good day."

Naomi said that she hadn't performed a recent act of kindness because she had been home sick the past two weeks. I asked if she had been on the receiving end of kindness during her sick time at home.  She was actually the recipient of Matt's act of kindness.  Matt had taken her out to eat when she wasn't feeling well enough to cook.


Day 191 - Anonymous Man and Anonymous Dog


I met these two while they were out for a little stroll.  This was a pretty funny encounter.  The dog was so excitable, nobody would sit still for a picture.  If the dog was "posed," the man wasn't, and vice versa.  We were having fun though!

I asked the man if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he replied, "every day."  He tries to do something daily and he gives both money and his time to organizations that are important to him.  Most recently, was a donation to the food bank.  The dog is actually a rescue who was found in a horse stall. He's been with their family for 5 years.

I asked the happiest thing happening in his life and he replied, "being alive."  (one of my favorite answers!)


Day 192 - Geoffrey


This is Geoffrey Hiller.  I didn't know him before this day, but after talking with him and learning of his work, I'm honored that he let me take his picture and that he's a part of this project.

I couldn't find any parking in my normal spots so I had to park illegally in the lot belonging to an antique mall.  I feel guilty when I do this and I know I'm risking a tow, but I'm so glad I was having an unlucky parking day and was forced to park in that spot.  As soon as I got out and headed down the sidewalk to search for a subject, I spotted Geoffrey, talking to another man. I could see that he had a camera and knowing that a person with a camera will always let me take their picture, I knew I was in for a quick and "easy" day. I was mistaken.

I approached Geoffrey and the other gentleman and asked Geoffrey if I could take his picture for my picture project.  I didn't even give my spiel before Geoffrey agreed and said, "sure!"  I then asked the other man if they were together, and if he would like to be in the picture.  The other man declined and then went on to tell me all about Geoffrey and give me an introduction to his work.   The man went on to explain that Geoffrey is a well known documentary photographer who has traveled the world. He told me that Geoffrey is a Fulbright Scholar and his work has been in magazines.  Utt oh, what have I got myself into, I was thinking.

Although I had become intimidated and somewhat embarrassed that I had approached a professional, and quite accomplished, photographer, Geoffrey and the other man were so nice and friendly, I  forced myself to get over feeling awkward and embarrassed.  However, I had interrupted an important conversation and felt pretty awful about that.  Geoffrey and the man finished their conversation and said their good-byes, and then I was able to snap a few pictures.

Geoffrey asked several questions about the project and although I tried to answer, I felt like it really didn't matter what I said.  Geoffrey "got" me.  He understands why a person would want to take a picture of a person every day for a year. I think he was just helping me to identify my motivation.

Geoffrey directed me to direct him.  Had the man not told me anything about Geoffrey, I would have been a lot less nervous but as it was, I felt like whatever I did, it was going to be wrong.  Geoffrey let me do my thing and then he suggested another spot on the other side of the building, and for me to take the next pictures without a flash.  It's funny, just those two simple changes resulted in a picture a hundred times better than the ones I had taken before his suggestions!  A few quick pointers from a professional and I was already making progress!

I explained to Geoffrey that I normally ask a couple questions, but after overhearing his conversation with the man, the questions felt inappropriate.  Geoffrey insisted it was ok, and to ask the questions.

"My Wife," Geoffrey replied, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life.

I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness and that's when he explained a little more of the conversation I had overheard.  Geoffrey was to fly out to New York the following day, to see his Sister-in-Law, who was nearing the end of her battle with breast cancer.  Geoffrey's Brother passed away a few years ago and Geoffrey wanted to make the trip not only for his Sister-in-Law, but to also be there for his Nephews.

Geoffrey was so nice and so helpful. I appreciated that he gave me some of his time, especially when he probably really wanted to get some pictures of his own while we still had a little of the magic hour, and I'm sure he needed to prepare for his trip.  Between interrupting his conversation, talking about happy times and then not-so-happy times, we were on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but our shared love of photography was grounding.  I asked Geoffrey his recommendation on a prime lens as I had become paralyzed in making a decision between a 35mm and 50mm.  Geoffrey said that he loves and prefers a 35mm.   I could even see the flicker in Geoffrey's eyes as he talked about his appreciation for a 35mm. Geoffrey is a documentary photographer and his love is photographing people. I value his input.  The one slight challenge with a 35mm, is that I'll need to get comfortable with getting up close and personal in people's space, when I want to take a portrait.   Geoffrey loves that part!

In our brief encounter, Geoffrey pushed me harder in a few minutes than I've pushed myself the past 6 months.  He asked me what editing program I use.  Being that he's old enough to have shot on actual film and has worked pre-digital,  I thought he might have an appreciation and understanding, perhaps even defend, my somewhat "purist" approach to editing.  I explained to him that I don't really do much to edit my pictures and that I do minor adjustments in iPhoto and and an app from the App store. (Obviously, I do experiment occasionally, using the programs I do have.)  I told him that I've been considering Lightroom,  but hadn't yet made the investment.

Geoffrey pushed.  He explained how important it is to use an editing program if I want to improve my pictures.  I realized in that moment, my "purist" approach has simply been an excuse and I've really just been scared and intimidated to learn something new. I haven't even learned how to use my camera properly, so the added fear of  having to learn Lightroom or Photoshop has simply been too overwhelming to me.  Turns out, I'm not "purist," I'm just someone who has been too scared to learn!  Geoffrey helped me make another decision.  He assured me that Lightroom is everything I could want and need.  This was helpful as I've felt I should consider photoshop, but watching the designers in the art department where I work, has always intimidated me.  Lightroom is a little more beginner-friendly.  Geoffrey helped me to remind myself that with the evolution of digital photography, a successful image is not simply "captured," it is created.  A photographer creates an image not only in the way they compose a shot, but also in the way they edit the picture in post.  Editing a picture is definitely not "cheating," it is now as much a part of the art and the creation of a good image, as is proper composition and lighting.

As soon as I went home that night, I downloaded a trial version of Lightroom, after first spending some time on Geoffrey's websites. I encourage you to check out the links below to see Geoffrey's amazing work and the work of other documentary photographers that Geoffrey features on Verve Photo.   Geoffrey has several websites and you could get lost for hours in each of them.

Geoffrey's main site is:  hillerphoto.com

His work is powerful, and some of the images may move you to tears. You can learn more about his work and his life here.

Geoffrey is also the curator of: Verve Photo

Verve Photo is a gallery in which Geoffrey features other Documentary Photographers.

Intense and moving, is Geoffrey's work in Burma:  Burma, Grace under Pressure 

Who I thought was going to be an "easy" subject for the day, turned out to be someone who has pushed me and inspired me to be better.  I had no idea when saw him on the street, that I was about to meet a world renowned photographer who would generously give of his time, and that our interaction could prove to be life-changing.

He just looked like a nice man to me - I did call that one right!

I love the irony that I had the opportunity to document the documentary photographer, and it was all because I was having a bad-luck parking day.


Day 193 - Misty


This beautiful girl is Misty and the picture doesn't even do her justice.

It was pouring rain and I needed fuel, in the form of coffee, before heading out to find a subject.  Thanks to a driver who wouldn't let me change lanes when I needed to, I found myself back in the old neighborhood where I worked when I first moved to Portland.  Remembering that the first coffee shop I ever visited in Portland was close to there, I decided to head in for the best Mexican Mocha in town.

Not only did I get my much needed coffee drink, but I also met Misty and asked if I could take her picture.

I asked Misty about the happiest thing happening in her life and she replied, "I just got my new place today!"  She's moving soon!   When I asked if she has performed a recent act of kindness, she said that she had given up her seat on the bus so that a group of little kids could sit together.

Day 194 - Jill and Bernie


I love this picture!  Bernie is looking at me like he's had it with the paparazzi!  I look at his little face and I hear, "whatcu talkin' 'bout Willis?"  He was actually sweet and friendly, but I think I tested his patience with me when I asked Jill if we could get a picture of the both of them.

I was still smiling from having just run into Charles, from day 11, when I met Jill and Bernie, who had just finished their walk.  I asked Jill about the happiest thing happening in her life and she said, "I'm just about to go on vacation!"  I asked Jill if she has performed a recent act of kindness and she said that she volunteers for an arts education program.

I also learned that Jill is a jewelry designer!  I love her work and have already spotted a piece on her Facebook page that I need! Yes, need!  You can check out her work on her website, Lolabelle Designs, but do also check out her Facebook page as it looks like you'll find even more pictures of her creations there.


Day 195 - Anonymous Man at the Bus Stop


This is a man who was waiting for the bus.  I think this is one of my favorite pictures so far, because of the different colors and textures in the background, the angle at which we were both positioned in relation to the background wall, and even the angle of our differing heights.

Anonymous man spoke with an accent, although his english was perfect.  When I first approached him and he he expressed his hesitation to let me take his picture, I was worried we might have a language barrier. After talking with him, I realized language was not a barrier - he was just a little skeptical and cautious of my desire to take his picture.  He agreed, but I like how you can see in his picture that he's a nice man, but still detect that he's a little curious as to why I would be taking his picture.

I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life and he said, "I'm going home to California."

His bus arrived and I thanked him for letting me take his picture.


Day 196 - Kenny


This is Kenny.  He's another runner from my favorite trail. Kacey and I had just finished our walk when I spotted him.  I took off after him, knowing I would never catch him if he started running, but luckily he was still warming up.

I love this little trail - I've seen Kenny several times and I'm sure we've exchanged the obligatory  "g'mornin," per runner/walker etiquette, but it was nice to be able to say hello.

Kenny is training for the Newport Marathon in May, with the hopes of qualifying for Boston!  He did the Portland Marathon in October and his time was just 5 minutes over qualifying for Boston. The Boston Marathon isn't something he had really considered, but when his time was so close in Portland, he made the decision to go for it!  He said the training plan is hard and intense and he's doing a lot of speed, tempo and hill work, which isn't what he's been used to.  I'm going to be rooting for him!  Five minutes might seem like nothing, spread out over 26.2 miles, but to erase those 5 minutes from the clock takes intense training, guts and grit.

I've seen him run - I'm confident he's got this!

I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "the support of my family."

When I asked Kenny if he's performed a recent act of kindness, he hesitantly replied, "yes," but didn't elaborate. I asked if he wanted to share and he said it's kind of weird and wasn't sure if it's an act of kindness.  He then went on to explain that his upstairs neighbor had accidentally closed the door behind her and locked herself out of her place with her 8 month old baby inside.  (it may have been grand baby, I failed in my note-taking.)  The infant was up and about and alone and she was worried something would happen.  She went to Kenny for help and they called 911.  They determined the quickest and most efficient plan would be for Kenny to just break in.  Kenny broke through, by taking a hammer to the door knob, and saved the day!  He was right - one wouldn't normally think "breaking and entering" would be an act of kindness, but in this case, he really saved the day!

We're all cheering for you, Kenny! Good luck!


If you've been a subject in this project - thank you!  You're the happiest thing happening in my life right now and I appreciate your act of kindness in letting me take your picture.  I keep forgetting to mention, if you've been a subject and would like a copy of your picture, please do e-mail me!

Thank you for following along with me on this journey.  You're pushing me to stick with it and I love and appreciate your support and encouragement!

Wishing you a great week!

Thank you!