365 Day People Picture Project - Week 38

Hi! We're finished with week 38 of The 365 Day People Picture Project and you know what that means?  We reached 265 days this week!  Only 100 more days to go!

I can't even believe we've made it this far because it feels like we started this project just a few weeks ago. Thank you for following along on this journey!

Day 260 - Jack


This is Jack.  I spotted him in downtown Vancouver where he was working at a record store.

When I asked Jack about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he replied, "easily, the Trail Blazers in the playoffs!"

I asked Jack if he's recently performed an act of kindness and he said that he tries to do something every day.

"Don't be an asshole. Do what you want to do as long as it doesn't infringe on anybody else," Jack replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of anything on the spot.

I asked Jack about something at which he would consider himself to be a success and he replied, "I'm finally doing things that are making me happy. Finding happiness."  This is among one of my favorite answers so far. It doesn't matter what we aspire to do, when you think of it, we're all in search of happiness.


Day 261 - Diane


This is Diane.  We met at the stairs at Mt. Tabor Park.  When I spotted Diane, I was so busy trying to analyze if she looked like a person who would let me take her picture, that I nearly missed seeing the car that she was busy watching.  Seeing the reaction in her face, caused me to look just in time to see what looked like Vince Neil and David Lee Roth driving straight out of the 80's and into Mt. Tabor Park, in what I can assume was a time machine, cleverly disguised as a convertible BMW with 80's anthems blaring on the stereo to complete the experience.

When I approached Diane, she was still taken with the BMW Time Machine and laughing about the whole sight.  I asked Diane about the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "my garden is growing."

I asked Diane if she's performed an act of kindness recently and she replied, "I help students in their time of crisis."  I assume Diane is a librarian, as she went on to explain that students often come in to the library shortly before a big project is due, and instead of nagging them about starting earlier, she just helps to put them on the right course to complete their report or assignment in time to turn it in on the due date.  Can you imagine being a student in that situation?  Diane would be such a welcomed life-saver and probably one of the few adults/teachers who would skip the lecture and just help you to do what needs to be done.  We laughed when I made the observation that it's funny because the habit of waiting till the last minute, seems to follow some of us into adulthood as well.

I asked Diane if she had a personal mission statement or could think of one on the spot, and she replied, "be kind and do things in moderation."

"Friendship, and building community," Diane replied, when I asked her one thing at which she would consider herself to be a success.

I asked Diane if she had any dreams or aspirations and clarified, "climb-Mt.-Everest" type dreams, at which she said she has actually always wanted to hike Table Mountain.  She then replied that she wants to learn to walk on stilts.  I love the idea of a stilt-walking-librarian and hope she pursues that ambition!

Now seems like the appropriate time to mention this because I need to learn from Diane's students and not wait until the last minute.  Since we're nearing the end of the project, I need to consider a few posts which will reflect back on everything I've learned in the project.  For photographers who stumble upon this project, I feel I should share what I've learned, even though it's actually painful to refer to myself as a photographer. I know I said I would stop this sort of talk. I'm working on it.  Anyway, I'd like to compile a list of things I've learned from a photography perspective, and things I've learned about people.  In the vein of not waiting till the last minute like some of Diane's students, I'm going to jot down something every day from now until the end of the project, so that I'll be ready with a closing and reflection post about this project.  (Thanks, Diane, I needed this reminder!)


Day 262 - Debbie and Kathy


This is Debbie (left) and Kathy (right).  I had spotted them several times as we were all working out at Mt. Tabor.  They finished the stairs shortly after we did, so the timing was perfect for me to ask if I could take their picture for the project.

I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now, and practically in stereo, they responded, "going to Paris!"  They're celebrating their 30 year anniversary with a vacation to France.

Debbie and Kathy are so aligned, they basically share answers!  When I asked if they had performed an act of kindness, they both agreed that they try to do something every day, such as opening doors for people, giving compliments, and recognizing their co-workers for a job well done.

When I asked if they had a personal mission statement, or could think of one on the spot, Debbie first answered for them both, saying, "treat others the way you want to be treated," and Kathy then added, "and Pay it forward."

I'm convinced I either need to get a bigger note book, write more legibly, or just get a recorder.  I've confused my own self with my note-taking once again, so I'm just going to share that Debbie and Kathy are looking forward to retirement and working on their fitness and getting in shape for Paris.

Bon Voyage, Debbie and Kathy!


Day 263 - Jesse


This is Jesse, from Ritual Arts Tattoo and Body Piercing, in the Hollywood District.  I spotted Jesse outside of his shop.

I asked Jesse about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "there's so many! My kids are excelling, business is thriving, motor cycle riding, and gardening."  I mentioned to Jesse that the person from the day before was also happy about her garden growing and we talked about the satisfaction one feels when you can see all of your hard work start to grow.  Gardening and backyard chicken farms are huge in Portland!  If you don't personally have a garden or chickens, you know someone who does, and often, you're able to reap some of their bounty.

Jesse's recent act of kindness is that he gave things to a friend who just got her own place, and he's currently teaching/mentoring a person to tattoo.

I asked Jesse if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot and he explained that he's more of a spiritual person than religious, but that he tries to live by "the golden rule."

Having "strong integrity," Jesse replied, when I asked something at which he would consider himself to be a success.

When I asked Jesse if he had any dreams or ambitions, it was pretty amazing to watch his face as he went on to explain that he's basically realizing his dreams.  Opening the shop with his partner was and is his dream, and now he's "in the heat of it."  I love hearing people who've made their dreams a reality! It's inspiring to those of us who are in the process chasing our own.

When I got home to prepare Jesse's picture to be instagrammed, I was disappointed in myself.   I'm learning that photography is this delicate little dance with light and I'm fumbling through the dance with two left feet.  The weather changed drastically in Portland.  Practically over night, we went from our typical cloudy and rainy spring, to 80 degree bright sunshine-y days!  It has been a huge process of trial and error in realizing the significance of light.  I need to learn that I'm not leading this dance.  It seems like the sunlight, or lack of, often results in a look opposite of the look I conceive in my mind.  The upside of learning by trial and error, is that although painful, it's effective.

I was disappointed with the images I had of Jesse, and once again, I had to fight myself to not show you another picture in black and white.  Black & white is truly becoming not only my default, but my preference.  I opted to share this picture of Jesse, even though I favored other black & white versions.  Jesse, tattoo artists in general, are colorful people and I thought I needed to push myself to share this in color.  In addition, Jesse was a nice guy, and the black & white version feels a little more hard-edged than Jesse was in real life.  (All of the tattoo artists and tattooed people in this project are all pretty nice people, and I'm not sure I should be blowing their covers. Perhaps the desired look is to have a bit of an edge and here I am...telling you they've all been a bunch of sweethearts!)

I battled with my disappointment and did the best I could to make corrections in lightroom until I finally got to a point where I think the picture would pass my "would-this person-Facebook-this-photo" test.  For the remainder of this project, I need to remind myself of this objective.  I want to take pictures of people that are nice enough that when they look at them, they feel good about themselves.  In order to do that, I need to remember that I'm sparkle-hunting.  The next 100 days are about dancing with light, and hunting for a person's sparkle.


Day 264 - Sean


This is Sean. He had just taken off his helmet when I approached him at Mt. Tabor.  At the time, I told him the little helmet mark would only add to the look of the picture, but when I got home, I realized I was wrong.  The indentation from his helmet didn't add to the look, it was distracting.  Sean is my first dive into a real "edit" or "re-touch."  Until Sean, I've only experimented with basic adjustments to exposure, contrast, some color/saturation, cropping and softening or sharpening.  Sean was a nice guy and he trusted me to take his picture and I wasn't about to let him down by sharing a picture with a helmet mark.  So, I did what I had to do...I googled and youtubed and self-taught myself how to make an edit with the brush and clone the un-marked area of his forehead and smooth out the indentation caused by the helmet.  I think I did ok?  If I didn't tell you, would you know?  There's just so much to learn!

I asked Sean about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my girlfriend."

"I held the door open for someone this morning," Sean replied, when I asked if he had performed and act of kindness.

I asked Sean about something at which he would consider himself to be a success and he replied, "I got my degree".  (in web design and interactive media!)

When I asked Sean if he had any dreams or ambitions, he said that he would like to travel to the Middle East someday.

When I asked Sean if he had, or could think of, a personal mission statement, he replied, "when I die, I want to feel like I did the best I could."  I asked/told him that maybe we should leave out the "when I die" part because it's too morbid.  The more I thought about it, I realized that Sean is totally right!  A personal mission statement guides us in living our lives so that when it's our time, we will have known that we did the best we could because we will have known what we stood for. Our personal mission statement helps us to shape our own path.  And the reality is, we will die - but knowing our life's mission, helps us to fully live.


Day 265 - Robbie, and "Eddie."


I was so overwhelmed by cuteness, I didn't realize until I got home that I hadn't written down the name of Robbie's dog, but I'm pretty sure her name is Eddie.  Robbie, if you happen to read this, I'm sorry if this isn't the correct name.

Although I may have slipped on her name, Eddie was an an irresistible sight!  It's not every day you see a giant Saint Bernard strolling down the streets of the Hollywood District.  Robbie and Eddie were across the street from me and when I spotted them, I hustled right across the street. I would like to think that I stopped to check for cars first, but I'm not so positive about that one.  (One more thing to remember...while dancing with light and hunting sparkles, first stop to check for traffic before running across the street.)  Luckily, Robbie is use to all of the attention that Eddie gets and didn't hesitate to let me take his picture.  (In the time we were taking pictures, several people had stopped to remark about Eddie!)

Eddie was tiring from her walk, and Robbie also explained that as soon as the camera is turned on her, she sort of goes aloof.  She'll be doing something cute at home but when they go to take her picture, she stops the cuteness.  I'm convinced there are definitely camera-shy dogs and they definitely know what we're up to.  In addition to Eddie being a little camera-shy and tired, her dark coloring around her dark eyes, made for a challenge in trying to capture her little sparkle.  Instead of getting frustrated with myself like I used to, if I know I'm not capturing a good "portrait" of a dog, I just want to get them admiring their humans in the cute little doggie-way that dogs show happiness, love and contentment.  We don't see much of her eyes, but it's pretty clear that Eddie loves her Robbie.

I asked Robbie about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my fiancé and I are engaged."

"I'm happy," Robbie replied, when I asked one thing at which he would consider himself to be a success.

Robbie's personal mission statement, and his dreams & aspirations are one in the same.  He's on an "ongoing mission to be creative for a living."  Robbie writes screen plays and has made submissions to film festivals.  I'm wishing Robbie success in his mission, and when he's famous and fulfilled his dreams,  we can say "we knew him when..."


Day 266 - Abby


This is Abby.  He's my Sister-in-Law's Brother.  I didn't know my family was coming to town so I was happily surprised when my Sister-in-Law called Saturday morning to say they would be at Portland State University for a Pow Wow.

Since I've already had both my Brother and Sister-in-Law as subjects in the project, my Sister-in-Law volunteered Abby to be the person of the day.

Once again, I was wishing I were a much more skilled "journalist," as Abby made for great interview. Since my journalistic skills are lacking, I'll share as much as I can remember and what I can read of my notes.

I probably haven't seen Abby since I was a kid.  This picture is when my Sister-in-Law was trying to tell Abby to look at me so that I could take his picture and of course, he didn't know who she was talking about since we were much younger when we last saw one another. I snapped this picture right as his lightbulb wen't off with the spark of recognition.


I asked Abby about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my family is healthy and we're together."  Abby was the Arena Director for this event and he said that "Pow-Wowing is putting my heart at rest for my friend Lee."  Abby's  friend recently passed away and Abby selected a few certain songs to help honor his friend Lee, as a healing for himself and for Lee's family.  Abby is also happy about his spirituality, and his walks in life.  He's been having good dreams, and "dreams are powerful."  Abby is also happy that he has a good job.


Abby works at the Warm Springs Tribal Museum as facilities maintenance.  I appreciate and admire the way Abby views his job.  He feels that his job of keeping the building clean, safe, and secure, gives him a small part in preserving culture and history.  When Abby explained how he views his job, I immediately thought of the book, "The Leader Who Had No Title." Abby's respect for his job is exactly the message the book was trying to convey...Abby isn't simply maintaining a clean facility, he is, in fact, entrusted with the safe-keeping of history and culture.  (I've been meaning to write a full review of "The Leader Who Had No Title," but since I have yet to do that,  I just want to encourage you to put this book on your must-read list and it will change the way you view your entire life, and the lives of others.)

I asked Abby if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He replied, "to sustain a meaningful life and to project that to those around me."  He wants people to not take things for granted.

Abby said his goals and dreams are to "live my life meaningfully, provide for my family, and sustain happiness."


I shot a few hundred pictures at the Pow Wow and of those, I was pleased with only about 4 of them. I'll share a couple with you.   I jokingly said to my Brother and Sister-in-Law that I'll now have to attend every Pow Wow in Portland until I can learn how to shoot properly.  A Pow Wow would be a real photographer's dream.  The color and texture of the Regalia, and the spirit and emotion of the dancers, makes for beautiful and moving photographs for someone who is skilled.  I left there feeling frustrated and disappointed in myself for not being able to properly capture and honor the dancers.  A Pow Wow really is an amazing test for photographers.  Those who are skilled will leave with beautiful images and those of us who are learning, will leave with more lessons learned the hard way.  No matter what images I walked away with on my camera's memory card, I still walked away feeling a little more nourished in my head and my heart.




Here's a recap of the personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • Don't be an asshole. Do what you want to do as long as it doesn't infringe on anybody else.
  • Be kind and do things in moderation.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Pay it forward.
  • The golden rule  (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.)
  • When I die, I want to feel like I did the best I could.
  • ...to be creative for a living.
  • To sustain a meaningful life and to project that to those around me.

I just want to thank you if you've been a subject in this project, this week, or any week. It was a pleasure and an honor meeting you and thank you for giving me a moment of your time, and your kindness. Please remember, if you like your photo, please send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to e-mail it to you!  It's the very least I could do!

Thank you for following along so far!  I'm going to give it my best these last 99 days.  I've just got to remember to let go of the stress and pressures of trying to understand and learn ISO, shutter speed and aperture,  and I'll just remember to have fun while dancing with the light and hunting for people's sparkle.

Wishing you an excellent week!