Hello! We're inching closer to the finish line and I confess, I'm starting to feel a little sad about the thought of the project ending. Taking pictures and meeting new people each day has become such a huge part of my life, I can't imagine not doing it. It's been strange that I keep hitting little roadblocks in the photography workshops I've intended to take. Maybe it's a sign that I should continue for another year so that I can get some real instruction under my belt, and then I can really be able to improve on the quality of the pictures I can take. Maybe this first year is just a little warm-up? For now, I just need to concentrate on each and every day and not worry about what's to come. I will just enjoy this process each day.
This week is a first. You'll notice the pictures for the entire week are all Black & White. Until now, I've forced myself to include color pictures each week. For having basically zero photography experience, the first thing I noticed about myself and the process, is that I immediately developed a preference for Black and White. Although I think I'm influenced by growing up in the 70's and 80's and the recall I have of my most favorite photographs being in black & white, it just seems like you can see people better when they're in black and white. You can really see them. You can see their sparkle.
Day 232 - Scott
Scott had just finished a 15 mile run when I asked if I could take his picture. I mean, he actually just finished. Hardly even winded, he agreed. Scott is training for the upcoming Timberline Marathon and an Ultra Marathon, the Mt. St. Helens Volcanic 50. Wow!
I asked Scott the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied that he's super happy about his son's new school. They had made the decision to transfer him from his current school and into a new program and the switch has been working out for him. Scott also finds happiness in running.
I asked Scott if he had recently performed an act of kindness. He replied, "I said 'hi' to a bunch of people on the trail." I laughed and confirmed that he had said "hi" to us, every time he passed us by.
When I asked Scott if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one, he replied, "You're stronger than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can."
I love the sentiment in this quote and it's pretty much the perfect motto for a runner. Scott and I had a nice visit afterward about the mental aspect of completing a marathon. One thing that I've found so interesting and beautiful about runners, especially one who has finished a marathon, is that they appreciate the efforts of anyone who has finished a marathon, regardless of their time or if they're a walker or runner. Scott is an Ultramarathoner but he didn't discount my accomplishment as a walker and having finished 4 marathons. It really is a beautiful community!
Day 233 - Broc
This is Broc. The happiest thing happening in his life right now is his relationship.
I asked Broc if he had recently performed an act of kindness. He explained that his girlfriend's mother had just passed away and he went with her to support her during this sad time and will continue to support her in anyway he can.
I asked Broc if he had a personal mission statement, or if he could think of one on-the-spot, and he replied, "you get what you put into it."
I've been playing with a new question this week and it's actually proving to be difficult for people to answer. I've enjoyed watching people as they search for an answer, and it's been priceless to see the look of satisfaction on their faces as they decide on the answer. I asked Broc if he could name something at which he considers himself a success. He replied, "music!" Broc is a drummer, and also DJ's the weekly BassFace show at The Q Nightclub in Downtown Vancouver.
Day 234 - Ken, Bear, and Tiz
I first spotted Bear and Tiz playing at Mt. Tabor. Concerned they may have been escape artists who had fled from their yard, I walked down to the grassy area where they were playing so that I could investigate. Once I was closer, I also spotted Ken, their human. Once I realized they were ok, I then decided to ask Ken if they would be in the project.
It was pretty funny. Ken happily agreed to let me take his picture and then as we began to shoot, he then confessed he really doesn't like having his picture taken. At all. He said he gets all weird. It was pretty evident that Ken went from being nice and easy-going, to looking as though he would have been less uncomfortable if he were at the dentist. I could read the discomfort on his face and we weren't getting a happy picture. I finally suggested we just go back to him playing with the dogs. Instead of trying to get a "portrait," I would just try for a fun picture of the dogs admiring him. It was a fine enough idea, but by then, the dogs were finished being models and they just wanted to play more fetch! I got this picture just in time!
I asked Ken the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he responded, "this!" I'm absolutely positive if Bear and Tiz could talk, they would have agreed completely! All three of them were having a blast!
I asked Ken if he's performed an act of kindness. He was having difficulty thinking of something specific, and then replied that he's "interested in other people's lives." Although this isn't a specific act, I started thinking it is actually the entire foundation upon which kindness is built. Being kind begins when we care about people other than ourselves.
When I asked Ken if he had a personal mission statement, he laughed and said that having a mission would go against everything he stands for. He wants to "Roam the Earth." We laughed and discussed the irony that his lack of a mission, "Roam the Earth," is indeed, actually his mission!
I asked Ken if he could name something at which he considers himself to be a success. "I'm a successful bike commuter," he replied. He rides daily, and he's also never had a serious accident.
Day 235 - Jessica and Minh
Jessica and Minh were running the stairs at Tabor. I was concerned I was interrupting their work-out, but I think they were ok with an extended breather at the bottom of the stairs.
I asked Jessica and Minh about the happiest thing happening in their lives right now. Jessica replied, "being young and relaxing." Minh replied, "living life!"
Jessica's recent act of kindness is that she picked flowers for her Mom. Minh's act of kindness is that he gave a stranger a ride home back when we had the big snow storm.
Jessica and Minh were both ready with an answer when I asked if they had a personal mission statement or if they could think of one. Jessica said, "helping people to integrate physical activity into their daily lives." Minh replied, "inspired to inspire!"
When I asked the friends if there was something at which they considered themselves to be a success, Minh quickly responded, "I'm a good role model to my nieces and nephews." The question was more challenging for Jessica. She named several things she wanted to, or hoped to be successful in the future, but was stumped for something at which she was currently successful. Wanting to help her out with some ideas, I said it could be something fun, "like being a successful chocolate chip cookie-maker". I somehow randomly hit on something at which she does indeed consider herself to be successful! Jessica replied, "I'm a good baker!"
Jessica and Minh, in my opinion, are both quite successful at being really nice people.
Day 236 - Juan
This is Juan from Plaid Pantry. I've been saving Juan for a literal rainy day. He's worked at the new Plaid Pantry for a while and I've known I wanted to ask him if he would be in the project, but I've delayed asking him. Knowing there would be days which would be too rainy to look for a person outside, I've been reserving a few back-up people who I would be able to take their picture indoors. It was pouring Thursday and I was in luck that Juan happened to be working.
I asked Juan about the happiest thing happening in his life an he replied, "my girlfriend and my music."
I asked Juan if he's performed an act of kindness and he replied, "yeah, hopefully." He thought for a moment and then said that his buddy is going through a break-up so he's tried to be a friend and counsel him.
When I asked Juan if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on-the-spot, he said it could be summed up as "self-actualization." He wasn't referring to self-actualization in the Maslow sort of way. Juan said, "I want people to embrace who they are, and what they have." Juan went on to explain how terribly shy he was before starting his job at Plaid Pantry. His first few shifts sounded like they were awful because he was painfully shy. As time went on, he became more comfortable talking to customers and now he's able to easily and comfortably talk with anyone. He said he had to first figure out who he was so that he could break through that barrier of shyness and interact with other people. I found it pretty ironic that Juan and I, both painfully shy people and basically strangers to one another, were sharing a meaningful conversation and taking pictures like old friends. I guess we've both had breakthroughs.
I asked Juan if there's something at which he considers himself to be a success. He was having a hard time identifying something, so I prompted him by asking about his music. He didn't consider it to be a success because he's not finished yet. He hasn't gotten to where he wants to be. (Hmmm, that made me want to reconsider and redefine our meaning of success. Why can't we be a success during the process? Isn't sometimes the process of becoming a "success," actually the true success?) Juan decided that he's a success in that he's always working on something and he's been successful in his relationships. He's had one relationship since he was 16 years old.
Check out Juan's band, Hail the Artilect.
Day 237 - Ed
Ed was waiting for his friend to arrive when I approached him on the patio at Rontoms. Ed was so nice and so interesting, I would have enjoyed hanging out with him a little while longer.
I asked Ed the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "I'm looking forward to summer." (Of course everyone looks forward to summer, but I don't think people quite understand how much of a thing this is. Summer and sunny weather in Portland is a very big deal! Doing nothing on a summer day in Portland, is one of the greatest things you can do!)
When I asked Ed if he's performed a recent act of kindness, he said he tries to find an act of kindness to do each day. Ed is another person whose life and profession is actually an act of kindness. Ed supervises a community based, mental health crisis team.
I asked Ed if he had a personal mission statement or could think of one, and he was quick to answer, saying it's important to have a mission statement to help us in guiding our lives and knowing what we stand for. I loved listening to Ed. Ed's personal mission statement, "measure life in love."
Ed's mission statement is inspired by the musical, "Rent," and the song, "How do you measure the Life" but it was his time working in an orphanage that helped him to solidify his mission and purpose in life.
When I asked Ed if he could identify something at which he considers himself a success, he replied, "I'm a good social worker."
After we were finished with the pictures, Ed asked if he could preview them. He pointed out his two favorites and told me he would prefer I posted one of those two pictures. Ed was the most stylishly dressed man at Rontoms and although I loved the color of his sweater, I told him I intended to make his picture black and white. I think Ed's picture is another one of my favorites. Ed is model-like handsome, but what helped me to get a nice picture is that I was able to sit down at Ed's table and take my time. Plus, I immediately felt at ease with Ed.
We talked about how we, people, don't talk with one another any more. I told him this project has caused me to wish for a movement similar to "throwback thursday" where instead of people posting a picture from their past, I dream of "meet someone monday" where we post a picture of a random stranger we befriend. I'm meeting so many amazing people whom I wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting had I not set out to do this project.
We finished just as Ed's friend arrived and Ed planned on asking his friend the same questions I had just asked him!
Day 238 - Jamie
This is Jamie, another master of the art of Mexican Mochas, from Ambiance Tan & Espresso.
I asked Jamie about the happiest thing happening in her life and she replied, "my new job." (Ambiance is Jamie's second job.)
Jamie's act of kindness is that she let a little fender bender slide and didn't report an accident in which a little old lady ran into her car. Jamie said she was fine, uninjured, and the dent in her car wasn't worth the bother. She didn't want the woman's insurance rates to increase because of the tiny accident.
Jamie's personal mission statement is golden - "treat others the way you want to be treated."
I loved Jamie's answer when I asked if there's something at which she considers herself to be a success. She replied, "learning how to control my control issues!"
Thank you to each and every person who has been a subject in this project! Thank you for your kindness and your time, and for sharing your picture with all of us. (Please let me know if you'd like a copy of your picture and I'd be happy to e-mail you!)
Here's the summary of the personal mission statements of the subjects from this week:
- "You're stronger than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can."
- "You get what you put into it."
- "Roam the Earth."
- "Helping people to integrate physical activity into their daily lives."
- "Inspired to inspire!"
- "Self-Actualization - I want people to embrace who they are, and what they have."
- "Measure life in love."
- "Treat others the way you want to be treated."
Thank you for following along!
If you'd like to follow along each day, I post the post the pictures to Instagram daily. My username is @missellanea.
Wishing you a great week...and what do you think, should we start a "Meet Someone Monday"?