365 Day People Picture Project - Week 39

Hello! We're finished with week 39 of The 365 Day People Picture Project!

If this is your first visit, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year.  My objective was to become proficient enough in photography so that I would be able to have images for this newly-hatched blog.  I had no idea when I started this blog that I would start this project, and I didn't know when I started this project that it would become the entire blog.

Although I've made some improvement in the quality of the pictures I take, I've realized this project took a turn and became less about photography and learning to use my camera, and more about discovering the kindness and friendliness in people, stepping way outside of one's comfort zone, and fulfilling the challenge to myself to do this thing I said I would do for an entire year.

The majority of the pictures have been of strangers, but also included are a few friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances.  I post each daily picture to instagram and if you'd like to follow along, my username is @missellanea.


Day 267 - Leo


Leo.  Leo. Leo.  Wow!

I'd like to be able to tell you that because of this project, I now have an amazing eye to scout talent.  However, Leo came as quite a beautiful surprise.  As I was walking to the convention center to meet up with my friends for another dance competition, I spotted Leo immediately! I didn't spot him for the obvious reasons.  I simply saw a person who was standing still, not waiting for a bus, and who didn't appear to be in any sort of rush.  All of these increase my chances that a person will let me take their picture.  Ok, I confess, I did spot a pair of very tall legs but from where I was coming, I had no idea of the person who was attached to those legs.

When I approached Leo to ask if I could take his picture, I instantly got a great vibe from him.  He's another one of those people who just sort of oozes niceness.  He agreed to let me take his picture and made a joking remark about " don't tell my agent," which sort of just floated past me.  That is, it floated past me until I got him in front of the camera.  As soon as we started to take the pictures and as I was looking at him through the view finder, I said, "whoa, you really are a model!"  Leo confirmed, yes he was actually a model. The joke about an agent wasn't entirely just a joke.  The feeling I got with having a professional model in front of me was noticeably different to how it has "felt" with nearly all of the other people in this project.  There have been about a half-dozen people in this project who have had modeling experience or who could be models, or who are at least quite comfortable and familiar with being in front of the camera.

Other than those people, one challenge during this project has been learning how to put both the subject and myself at ease during our brief and awkward encounter.  Once we make a little connection, then the next step is to capture their image as they're loosening up and their little sparkle begins to shine. It was INSTANTLY recognizable to me, Leo was special and different. As soon as I saw him through the viewfinder, there was no waiting for his sparkle or for him to relax.  The man belongs in front of a camera! You can't miss his sparkle.

And of course, what did I do with all of his sparkleness?  Well, I froze and went from feeling quite connected and comfortable with him, to feeling horribly intimidated and inadequate!  This is going to sound bizarre but if you've been following along, you know that I battle insecurities and a lack of confidence which comes from being so inexperienced and uneducated about my camera and photography.  I felt like I wasn't worthy of taking this beautiful model's picture and I felt a great deal of pressure to perform well, given that I had such a beautiful person in front of me.

I've mentioned before, you can have the most beautiful person in front of you, but it's still surprisingly easy to take a bad picture of a beautiful person.  And I'm quite good at taking bad pictures!  The difference was Leo.  Leo's personality grounded me and helped me just to chill out, and take a damn picture.  Once I took the first picture, I was able to ease into a flow and actually "work" with him so that together, we could get a nice image.  I ended up having several decent pictures of Leo, but I intentionally chose this one.  Is this ok to say about a man? Leo is beautiful. He's quite pretty, and all of the pictures I had taken of him were beautiful and they came out just as nice as he is as a person.  You could look at the pictures and just know he is a nice person.  But I didn't want nice.  I'll explain more below.

When I asked Leo about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he replied, I'm trying out for "Grimm" and starting my own radio show."  Leo is trying out to be one of the villains on the T.V. show "Grimm," which is filmed here in Portland.  I joked and questioned whether or not they would be able to ugly-him enough to be one of the scary bad guys. (If you haven't ever watched the show, it's a pretty awesome show and the villains transform from normal-looking humans into nightmarish monsters!  Let's face it, if Leo came to you in a dream, it wouldn't be a nightmare.)  Once I learned this, it became my mission to see Leo in a way other than the sweet and beautiful person who was standing before me. I wanted to see him a little rough. So, what did we do?  We broke out the squinch! (watch Photographer Peter Hurley's Squinch video here)

In a weird twist, we went from being a pair consisting of a confident and experienced professional model + a girl with a camera who was practically shaking in her boots, to a confident and professional model + a girl with a camera who knew one of the greatest modeling/headshot techniques in the world, and I was going to teach it to him!  Yes! Can you believe it?   After settling down and in, I then explained Peter Hurley's squinch to Leo, and that the technique will result in a look that is edgy, sexy, and pensive.  He absolutely nailed it!  I was so pleased with this interaction. Leo is an amazing model, but I was able to contribute one small technique and together, we created a beautiful image.

Technically speaking, my first pictures were actually a little more technically sound as far as the focus and his positioning (composition), but this was my favorite picture and in looking at this, I believe Leo could become one of those scary villains on Grimm.  At the same time, if I opened a magazine and he were the model for cologne, sunglasses, underwear, or anything, I would be sold on whatever it is he was "selling," and my husband would be the recipient of said cologne, sunglasses, or underwear!

After we had taken the pictures and performed the interview, Leo showed me some pictures his friend shot in a makeshift studio which was his apartment.  Leo was in full make-up. I don't know the proper industry words, but he was styled quite high fashion-y, with heavy, artistic, theatrical make-up and the pictures were stunning!  Especially considering they were just taken in his friend's apartment and not an actual studio. His friend was a pretty amazing photographer, and of course, Leo is pretty amazing.  I appreciated the huge contrast between Leo's friend's professional studio-looking dramatic photographs, and my total amateur look-at-this-hot-guy-I-met-on-the-street photographs.  Although there's a marked difference in the type and quality of images, the one constant is Leo and his talent in front of a camera.

I was hoping Leo would have a website or link so that we could follow the podcast for his new raido show, but since things are in their infancy,  I'll be sure to keep track of Leo and share his progress so we can follow along.

I told you Leo was nice, but hearing this completely warmed my heart.  When I asked Leo if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he told me that he saw a homeless man who was hungry, so Leo went and bought him some food, and then he gave the man the food and $20.00.  Leo said, "he needed it."

It has sometimes been confusing and overwhelming for people when I ask the question about having a personal mission statement. This week, I've elaborated on that and explained that if it's challenging to think of a personal mission statement, then think of it as "what is your life's purpose."  When I asked Leo about his life's purpose, he replied, "to get my show going to develop culture centered around art and music."

When I asked Leo something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he replied, "the fact that I signed a new modeling contract with a new company."

I'm wishing Leo huge success with his modeling, acting and radio show and he's clearly a talented person.  To me, even more impressive, is that he was genuinely a kind and very nice person and I'm so glad I bumped into him.  Good luck, Leo!


Day 268 - Renee


This is Renee, the owner of Ambiance Tan and Espresso.  Can you tell I've got a serious mexi-mocha addiction?  (ok, and maybe I've sneaked in a few assisted vitamin D sessions as well.)  Renee was the last person who I've been saving for a literal rainy day.

Apparently, Renee saw my car pull up and she told Ed (from week 33) that she just knew I was going to ask to take her picture that day and she was sort of less than thrilled about it.  After a long day at work, she wasn't feeling camera-ready and at best, she said she's not really comfortable having her picture taken.

Knowing that Rennee wasn't feeling her best or at least not feeling confident, made me empathize with her, so it was important for me to capture her as the beautiful and genuinely nice person she has been.  When you walk into her shop, you're greeted with friendliness and warmth and both she and Ed are amazing in that once you've been in - they remember you by name and by drink on the next visit.  It's pretty remarkable for them to remember your name and once you've been in a few times, you really get the feeling of belonging to a small community.

It was important to me to try to show that same welcoming warmth in Renee's picture, as she is in real life.

I asked Renee about the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she responded, "Eddy and I working as a team and that business is going well."

Renee was having trouble thinking of a recent act of kindness but then her customers spoke up for her, reminding her that she had recently organized three different fundraisers for people in need.  This reminder helped Renee to recall that she had also given a cup of coffee to a homeless person. She set it next to him as he was sleeping.

I asked Renee if she had a personal mission statement and she said that she's soon going to get a tattoo which says:  "Faith. Family. Friends. Strong."

I realize as I'm writing this post that I had forgotten to ask Renee something about herself which she considers to be a success, so I'm just going to share something I would consider to be a success, just in the few months I've been a customer.  Renee is successful at owning and running a small business and she genuinely welcomes her customers with warmth, friendliness and great service!


Day 269 - Oscar


This is Oscar.  I spotted him as he was loading his groceries into his car.

I asked Oscar about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied without hesitation, "my baby girls!"

It's pretty common when I ask people if they have a personal mission statement, or if they can think of one on the spot, for them to get this look of regret for having agreed to let me take their picture.  I end up apologizing for the job-interview-like question.  Oscar got that look on his face, but quickly replied simply, "to live right."

When I asked Oscar if he had any goals and dreams, he explained he had many, but I could tell he was ready to get on about his business. I then explained the reason I asked this question and the importance of doing so, is that I believe the more we talk about our dreams, the closer we come to realizing them.  He agreed and I can't quite remember  exactly what he said but he jumped on board in the effort to narrow his focus and start making his dreams a reality. I helped him to simplify his goals by asking him if he would identify at least 3 things.  He replied: 1) to record an album, 2) to go to France, 3) to visit his Sister in New York.

Before we parted,  I thanked Oscar and wished him well in accomplishing his dreams.


Day 270 - Sensei and Osiris


This is Sensei (left) and Osiris (right).  They were on their way to skate at Mt. Tabor Park.  I workout at Mt. Tabor and on Wednesdays, the park is closed to vehicles so its a popular day and the park is filled with cyclists, walkers, runners, and downhill longboard skaters.  I knew they were excited to get up the mountain as they were getting a bit of a late start, but they agreed to let me take their picture.

Something felt off when I was in the process of taking their pictures. We even had to move places and things were still feeling different to me.  I was concerned enough that I even had to ask to take their pictures individually.  It is extremely challenging for me to take a picture of more than one person at a time.  An even bigger challenge is when the people have a difference in height.  I couldn't quite figure it out, but things just felt different.

When I got home and started to "develop" the pictures, I realized the feeling I was picking up on was two-part.  1) The decision to move spots was a good call.  I finally recognized and directed the picture in order to get a better shot.  2) That off feeling wasn't "off" at all, it's what it feels like to take a cool picture!  I'm just not accustom to it!

Sensei and Osiris were sweet kids and even though they were in a hurry to skate, they gave me all the time in the world and they were so thoughtful in each of their responses. Once again, I would have benefitted from having a recorder as I just couldn't write fast enough to record their amazingly insightful responses to each question.  It was quite impressive to hear such considerate answers come from such young people, and I realized it was their youth which was actually behind their beliefs and philosophies.  They're young enough not to have been too hardened by what life can throw at us, but old enough to have developed compassionate and hopeful ideals of people and life.  Do you remember back to when you were their age...the way you felt about life and people was quite ideal.

When I asked about the happiest thing happening in their lives, Sensei responded, "being able to follow my thoughts and ideas. I feel I can follow what is right."  He then joked but not joked, "also, Star Trek and Star Wars!"  What I gathered by Sensei's response is that he's at the point where he's coming into his own and finding himself, and he's gaining confidence in the person who is emerging.  (I could be wrong, but that's my interpretation.)

Osiris responded, "A lot of things are good right now - I'm going to Europe in a month, for two months, and this weather!"

I asked if they've recently performed an act of kindness.  Sensei responded, "I try to give people patience."  Indeed, he gave me his patience.  I think a lot of young men would have been way too squirrely in this situation.  The two of them are unique and remarkable in that they were so thoughtful and patient with me when they would have much rather been skating than answering the questions of some middle-aged woman with a camera and a project.

Osiris' recent act of kindness is that he left his un-expired bus ticket at the bus stop for someone else to use.

I asked the pair something about themselves they would consider to be a success.  Sensi replied, "being open to new things and evaluating myself with less bias."  Osiris replied, "I take pride in my compassion toward people, awareness of people and where they're coming from."  Again, the two weren't just saying fluffy words. They were living exactly what they spoke about.  They were open to letting me take their picture and they were considerate and empathetic that I'm just a beginner, and tolerant that I needed to take several pictures. They afforded me their time and consideration with their answers to my questions.  They're good guys!

I asked the pair if they had a personal mission statement or could think of one on the spot.  For some reason, they had in their minds the statement should be as succinct as possible.  As in, two-words!  I'm not sure how we got on this track but we did. Sensei responded, "love and awareness."  Osiris responded, "patience and understanding."  They both struggled with how to articulate their words into a full mission statement.   Together, we decided simply to add "to live with," which expanded their responses to be:  "to live with love and awareness," and "to live with patience and understanding."

These two completely blew me away and I felt privileged to meet such nice "kids."  (oh man, I'm old enough to be calling guys "kids" now. It's all downhill from here.) Joking aside, I was impressed by their maturity and kindness and wish these young men lots of happiness, success, and good skating!


Day 271 - Mat


This is Mat.  I had exhausted my reserve of rainy-day people and it was pouring this day.  I couldn't find anyone at Tabor, so I decided to stop at a Plaid Pantry, hoping I'd be able to find a subject there. Thinking I had already taken the picture of every worker at this particular store, I was just hoping to find a customer who would give me the time to take their picture.  I was in luck!  I hadn't yet taken Mat's picture!  Just one problem - Mat got slammed right after I asked if I could take his picture.  After waiting for a while, it finally slowed down for just a minute, long enough for me to take his picture and ask a couple of the questions.

"Getting my financial aid together," Mat replied, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Mat's personal mission statement, "stick to your guns until, or unless, logic and experience prove otherwise."

It was quick, but I'm pleased with Mat's picture as well.


Day 272 - Christopher, Eunis, and Reba


This is Christopher (left), Eunis (center) and Reba (right).  These three were a crack-up! And yes, I challenged myself in trying to take a picture of not just two, but three people at once!  In real life, Christopher is nearly a head and a half taller than each of us, but he didn't mind repositioning himself to make it easier for us to get everyone in the frame.

I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and Christopher responded that he had just had an "incredible interview!"  "I fucking slayed it," he said.  Joking aside, he was pleased that he had overcome his insecurities about being under-qualified and decided to go for it!  This was his second interview for the position and he's clearly feeling confident!

Eunis and Reba were both happy to be out celebrating Eunis' boyfriend's 30th Birthday! Reba was happy to be spending time with her "bestie," Eunis.

I asked the trio if they had recently performed an act of kindness...and wouldn't you know it, I had met another group of social service workers!  They all agreed that their professions are ones of kindness.

Christopher's act of kindness is that he assisted a person with the process of  accessing SS benefits.  I've decided to shorten this.  We all discussed ways in which we could tell their stories without breaking confidentiality and they were incredibly considerate of the words they used so they would keep the confidence of their clients.  Having worked in the field myself, I'm also sensitive to it as well, and I've decided to shorten Chris' response even further.

Eunis gave her un-expired bus ticket to a frazzled girl at the bus stop who greatly appreciated the kind gesture and she also procured a much-needed donation for the organization where she works - they're going to receive a donation of 100 lbs of clothing for the next three months!  Reba spent extra time with a particular client, and by giving him some extra individual time and attention, she most likely set him up to have a much nicer weekend.

I asked if they had a personal mission statement or if they could think of one on the spot, and again clarified, if this is challenging, then to think of it as defining their life's mission.  Christopher replied, "justice, art and glamour."  Reba responded, "if i can be happy for one day, I can make others around me happy."  Eunice responded, "I want to find my mission. I want to find my passion."

Again, I was so glad to have run into a group of fun-loving, and fun and loving people!


Day 274 - Brent


This is Brent.  We've known each other since about 1988 and he's married to one of my best friends.  And, he's one of my best friends too!

Brent attended our rival high school but we became acquainted because one of my best friends was a little sweet on him.  I helped keep stats for the wrestling team in high school, so I was the perfect cover for my two girlfriends to come to the wrestling matches.  But they weren't there to watch me keep stats - they were there to spy on Brent!  Here we are, some 26 years later and my friend and Brent are still married and we're all still the best of friends!

Brent is quietly one of the smartest people I know, and one of the funniest.  He just sort sneaks it in on you.  You don't know how funny he is at first, until he drops some of the most hilarious comments or observations on you!  He's so funny, his teenage daughter had to ban him from twitter because he was getting too big of a following and many of his followers were her friends!

I don't think either of us knew when we were in high school, that our Dads actually worked together, not directly, but close enough to where they developed a liking and a respect for one another.  Although they've both passed, I know our Dads would both be pleased that we're all still in each others lives, and all quite close.

It's been fun growing up and growing older with Brent and my girlfriends.  We've seen Brent grow from a quite mischievous kid, into an awesome husband and father.  Brent loves his family and when you meet him, you recognize it immediately.

"Seeing the kids doing well in sports and in school," Brent replied, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Brent couldn't think of a recent act of kindness but I know for certain it was only because his "memory is slipping," as Brent put it.  He and his family are ALWAYS doing some act of kindness and volunteer for several different groups.  He then remembered that most recently, he volunteered to be a waiter for the "Women's Tea" at their Church.

When I asked if he had a personal mission statement he replied, to never give up, and then settled on, "keep trying."

"My family," Brent said, is one thing at which he would consider himself to be a success.

I asked Brent if he were to challenge himself to do one thing, every day, for an entire year, what would it be?  He replied, "learn an instrument."  He explained that he'll practice for a while, make progress, and then stops, and he keeps repeating that process.

I'm so thankful that Brent and his family are in my life.  They are my family away from my real family, and I think that each of our families rest a little more assured, knowing that we have each other in our lives.

The summary of the personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • To develop culture centered around art and music.
  • Faith. Family. Friends. Strong.
  • To live with love and awareness
  • To live with patience and understanding.
  • Stick to your guns until, or unless, logic and experience prove otherwise.
  • Justice, art, and glamour.
  • If i can be happy for one day, I can make others around me happy.
  • I want to find my mission. I want to find my passion.
  • Keep trying.


Thank you for following along on another week of this project!  I love sharing this project with you and am so happy to have you along for the ride.

If you've been a subject in this project - I'm completely unable to express my gratitude and appreciation for you and your time and for letting me take your picture, no matter how weird it may have been.  Thank you for sharing yourself with us and this project.

Thank you, and have an awesome week!