365 Day People Picture Project - Week 31

Thank you for checking in on week 31 of The 365 Day People Picture Project! It's been such a beautiful week here in Portland/Vancouver.  We've had more sun than rain this week and in Portland, the mood changes right along with the weather.  Everyone is so happy!

Day 211 - Matt & Cheech


I met Matt and Cheech in Esther Short Park, Downtown Vancouver.

I asked Matt about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he said, "having winter be done!"  It was a beautiful day on Sunday and we were heading into a week of beautiful weather.

Matt told me that Cheech had gone missing during the snow storm a few weeks ago. There's no good time for a dog to be lost, but that had to be a horrible feeling for them both.

I asked Matt if he had a personal mission statement and if not, could he come up with one on the spot. He came up with:  "To look to the future and be happy."


Day 212 - Ryan


This is Ryan.  We had both crossed the street at the same time, so I decided to ask if I could take his picture.

I asked Ryan the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "being married."

Ryan tries to do an act of kindness every day.  I asked Ryan if he had a personal mission statement, or if he could think of one.  He replied, "work hard today, so it will be easier tomorrow."


Day 213 - Brian


Brian was doing the stairs at Mt. Tabor.  It was his first day back after having taken the winter off from the stairs.  Having just had my first day back at the stairs last week, I know how exciting and daunting it feels to get back at it.  The stairs at Tabor are brutal, but the upside is the feeling of camaraderie with all of the other stair-climbers.

I asked Brian about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "spring!"

Brian's recent act of kindness is that he's a volunteer for the Timbers Army.

I love Brian's personal mission statement.  It inspired me and helped me that very same day, and it continued to stick with me the rest of the week.  Ryan's personal mission statement is, "To get better every day."

I thought of his words that day when I did push-ups at the top of the stairs.  It's our routine to do a set of stairs, walk a lap around the top of Tabor, and then do push-ups, planks, squats, or lunges before descending back down the stairs. I haven't done push-ups since the beginning of November, so it felt like I was starting all over again.  My first set was horrible.  I could only do 5 push-ups with good form and that was taking all the strength I had that day.   I could hear Brian's voice when I forced myself to do one more push-up than I had done the set before.  "To get better every day," is such a good reminder that great progress can made in tiny little incremental steps.  One can't go back out and expect to do 15 good push-ups after having done none in 5 months, but you can start where you are and improve one-by-one.

Day 214 - King and Bella


Wednesday was the warmest day we've had so far and Mt. Tabor was packed with people!  On Wednesdays, the park is closed to all motor traffic so the park belongs to downhill skateboarders and cyclists, plus all of the usual runners, walkers, picnickers and sunset-watchers.

I approached King and Bella to ask if I could take their picture and I didn't know I had walked into a bit of a situation.  King and Bella had been separated from their group so they decided to head back to the car and meet up with them there.  Only one problem - the car was gone!  The car's owner, Bella's fiancé, had left to take someone else home and all of Bella and King's belongings were in the car.  I had an opportunity to perform my own small act of kindness and let them use my phone to call Bella's fiancé.  All was fine and they were quickly reunited.

The happiest thing happening in their lives right now:  King is happy about upcoming music projects and Bella is happy that she and her fiancé have found their own place and will be getting married soon.

Day 215 - Colleen


This is Colleen. I had just finished my stair workout at Tabor and Colleen was just beginning hers.

When I asked Colleen if I could take her picture, she was quickly agreeable.  She then told me about a movie in which the owner of a cigar shop takes a picture of people/his shop every day.  She couldn't remember the name, but she thought it was a Roman Polanski film.  I searched and searched when I got home, but I was having trouble finding the movie.  I finally discovered it wasn't a Roman Polanski movie.  The name of the movie is "Smoke" and if you've enjoyed following along in this project, I think "Smoke" is a must-watch for the both of us!  I can't wait to watch it!

"Being alive and enjoying my grandson and my daughter," is the happiest thing happening in Colleen's life right now.

I asked Colleen if she's performed a recent act of kindness and she said that she helped her friend, who is monocular, shop for a car.

When I asked Colleen if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot, she said, "to make this year the year that I get healthier!"


Day 216 - Jeff


Jeff was waiting for the bus, headphones on, when I approached him.  Once again, I had to do my little hand-flappy thing to catch his attention through his headphones.

It was another amazingly beautiful day on Friday and this had the potential to be a great picture with the iconic Hollywood Theatre sign in the background.  Being inexperienced, I completely lost the background.  I was just getting the hang of shooting at night and the dark and gloomy Portland skies, and now the sun is back out and I'm having to learn how to adjust and compensate.  The background is lost in this picture, but I'm now determined to get a nice picture with the Hollywood sign before this project is over.

Jeff agreed to let me take is picture and then he sort of laughed a little, saying, "it's not every day that someone comes up to you to ask if they can take your picture."  I agreed, saying, "yeah, I'm sorry. I know it's a little weird."  He replied, "it's Portland!"

"My job" is the happiest thing happening in Jeff's life right now.  When I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness, he explained that he's a counselor.  His professional life is an act of kindness!

When I asked Jeff if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one, he couldn't think of anything immediately but as we talked some more, he remembered a quote that embodies what he would consider to be his personal mission statement.  The quote is by Viktor Frankl - "The meaning of our lives is to help others find the meaning in theirs."

Wow!  What a perfect mission statement, especially considering his profession.

This quote has had me thinking about the project and how I received subtle influences, and the inspiration to do this project came in many different forms. We just never know that the seemingly insignificant things we do or say in a day, may be having an influence in someone's life!

When I started this project, I had a few sources of obvious inspiration such as my friend Shauna (Nubby Twiglet) from day 128. Having started this blog and then realizing that I had nothing to blog about, I knew I had to think of something or else I would have failed at blogging in record time.  Shauna is the type of person for which failure is not an option.  She can make something out of nothing.

I also received subtle, subconscious cues or inspiration from a random source.  I have a Facebook and Instagram (@ackerleyart on instagram)  friend who was also a source of inspiration for this project. He's an artist in Wichita, Kansas, and we've never met in real life but he's helped me to find  meaning in my life. He would have never known that something he was doing was having an affect on someone half-way across the country.  James posted a series of pictures he called, "Day Walker."  They were photos of a woman he would see on his way to work.  Sometimes he would post daily, and sometimes we would go for long periods without seeing the "Day Walker."  The experience was incredible!  "Day Walker's" face was always obscured but over time, I started to write her story in my mind. "Day Walker" had become a real person to me.  I couldn't wait to see what "Day Walker" was wearing next, or if I could tell if her mood had changed.  She always seemed so sad to me.  I have no idea what her life is like, but James presented this person to us on Instagram and Facebook, and I think we all sort of wrote our own stories about "Day Walker."  It's like I couldn't start my own day, until I could first see a picture of "Day Walker." I had started to care about this random stranger, introduced to me by another stranger, and I started to care about them both. To this day, James hasn't shown a picture of "Day Walker's" face and I have no idea what she looks like.  James' "Day Walker" series planted the seed for what grew into my own 365 Day People Picture Project.

Between Shauna's constant creative influence, and James' "Day Walker" series, an idea was forming in my mind before I was even aware of it.  I had already started carrying around my camera every day (at Shauna's instruction), even though I would never use it.  I didn't even know how to use it!  Then one day I delivered an order of shirts to Donovan's Black Label Tattoo shop. While there, I asked Donovan if I could take his picture.  I snapped a few pictures and when I finished and was heading back to my car, I spotted two characters taking a smoke break outside a bar.  Still having my camera at the ready, I asked if I could take their picture and they agreed. Below is a picture of one of the men.  This picture was taken about a month before starting the 365 Day People Picture Project.

Bonus Day - The first picture I had taken of a stranger 


Shauna, James and his "Day Walker", and the two characters I met outside taking a smoke break, were the inspiration to what would later become the challenge to myself to take a picture of a person every day for a year.  Their lives shaped my life and helped me to find meaning and purpose. At least 365 days worth of meaning and purpose.  They had no idea they were having an influence on my life!

Day 217 - Connor



Saturday was another beautiful day and the opening of the Vancouver Farmers Market.  I've considered myself lucky when I could find a subject at Esther Short Park over the winter, but the park was filled with hundreds of people now that the sun is shinning and the Farmers Market is back in season. I spotted Connor sitting on a bench, reading a book.

When I approached Connor to ask if I could take his picture, he asked "why me?"  It's funny, I couldn't really explain it to him. I told him I liked his style because that's the only concrete, observable thing you can explain to a person.  (He had great style!)  It's not easy to explain to a person that they just seem like they would be "nice."

I asked Connor about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "My relationship with my girlfriend."  I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he explained that coming to Vancouver was sort of an act of kindness for his girlfriend. She had to work in Vancouver for the day so he made the trip with her. (I assume from Portland, across the bridge)

Connor thought briefly when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He replied, "To be compassionate."

Thank you for following along this week!  Are you feeling as inspired by the people from this week as I am?  The people from this week have shared with us:

  • "To look to the future and be happy."
  • "Work hard today, so it will be easier tomorrow."
  • "To get better every day."
  • "To make this year the year that I get healthier!"
  • "The meaning of our lives is to help others find the meaning in theirs."
  • "To be compassionate."

If you've been a subject this week, thank you!  Thank you for letting me take your picture and sharing your happiness and your personal mission statements with us.  It has been an amazing week and I'm so happy to have met you!

Thank you for following along. Have you thought of your personal mission statement?