365 Day People Picture Project - Week 41

Hello! Thank you for checking in on week 41 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.  I had never owned a real camera, other than just point and shoot.  (and it was film!)  My intention was to learn how to operate my new DSLR, and to learn the art of photography.  I feel the only thing I can say about my progress, so far, is that I've learned how to approach a stranger and talk with them without feeling like I could possibly die of shyness.   The process of forcing myself to approach and interact with strangers has been exhausting, but also completely rewarding and life-changing.

It's almost as though I'm becoming re-wired.  Before starting this project, I was always operating in the red on the stressed-out-o-meter.  The only time I wasn't intensely contemplating work or life pressures, was when I was walking or hiking my favorite trails and parks.   This project has forced me to get out of my own stressed-out head and to really see the people around me.  Some of whom are also equally intense, or some people who seem to be the complete opposite and who seem to have mastered the ability to be completely present.  It seems that no matter what our moods may have been at the moment I met each subject, I think we both left our interaction feeling a boost of happiness!

I've left each interaction feeling like my life was a little more enriched and I left feeling a slight honor that a person was willing to let me take their picture, and willing to share a little something about themselves.  Now when I'm out and about, I make a conscious effort to spread smiles and act with patience and kindness.   So many people in this project have shared their smiles and patience with me...I want to keep passing it on.  It is my hope that this little project inspires you to feel and do the same.


Day 281 - Brandon, Ted and Fozzie


I met Brandon, Ted (the light dog) and Fozzie (the black dog) down at Esther Short Park, in Vancouver.   I spotted Brandon and his wife and their canine kids when I first arrived at the park but I was a little hesitant on asking them if I could take their picture.  I knew if they agreed, I would be in for a big challenge.  By now you know how I am about group pictures, then add in a pair of dogs, and I wasn't sure I could manage.  It was also starting to down-pour, and both Brandon and his wife were wearing bright Steelers gold jackets.  I had realized that I hadn't ever taken a picture of such bright colors and although it sounds funny, I was intimidated by the color.


I was glad I finally got up the nerve to approach them.  Brandon and his wife were new to the area and so friendly!  I was happy to be part of the unofficial welcoming committee.

I asked Brandon the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he responded, "waking up everyday, doing this, and nature!"  Brandon just moved from Arizona and he and his wife have already fallen in love with all of our green!  They love spending time in nature and are enjoying the huge contrast between the Northwest and the desert.

I asked if Brandon had recently performed an act of kindness and he explained they had just adopted Ted at the Doggie Dash the week before.  The way Ted and Fozzie were playing and loving each other, I thought they were old pals!  I'm so happy for Ted and his new home with Brandon and his wife!  Ted came with a long list of potential issues and negative traits and Brandon and his wife were prepared for a rough settling-in period but it sounds like Ted has been a dream of a dog. I would have never guessed they hadn't all been a family-unit for years.

I asked Brandon if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He's actually a person who has given it some thought and he said that it's been redesigned the past year, but right now he's decided on, "find a way to be happy."

I asked Brandon something about himself he would consider to be a success and he replied, "my three men."  The youngest of his 3 sons is graduating and now he's happy to be "sending three men off into life."


Day 282 - Wendy


This is Wendy.  We met at Mt. Tabor park.

"Just digging being healthy, deep breathing, and being alive," Wendy responded, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

Wendy's recent act of kindness is that she had just given a donation to a Church group, and she didn't take the chocolate they were "selling."  We joked that resisting the candy was also an act of kindness for her self, especially after working so hard at Tabor to be healthy.

When I asked Wendy if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one, she said that it is actually something she's had on her to-do list for a while.  Her current working personal mission statement is, "opening my heart, cultivating love and kindness, and finding ways to be of service."

Throughout this project, I've been amazed there have been a few people who have actually been giving thought to the idea of developing a personal mission statement.  If they hadn't fully decided on a personal mission statement, they've been at least prepared with some sort of guiding quote or the beginnings of their personal mission statements.  Equally amazing, have been the people who have been able to come up with an impromptu personal mission statement which has been quite meaningful and powerful.  Has reading the mission statements from the people in this project inspired you to write your own?

"I'm a good listener," Wendy replied, when I asked her one thing about herself she would consider to be a success.

Wendy and I visited for a while after the "interview" and pictures.   This project is making the world even smaller.  When I go to the park, I usually end up seeing several people who have been subjects in this project and we now exchange greetings and well wishes.  Since most of the people I meet at Tabor are there working out, it's been nice meeting new fitness friends and acquaintances.


Day 283 - Ryland


I've seen Ryland and his dog around a few times.  I've even tried to chase after him once, but he was peddling way too fast for me to catch.  There's only so many footsteps you can take when you chase after a person before you cross that line from simply trying to catch someone's attention, to being a weirdo who is, well, chasing after someone!  This time, he and his dog were going slow enough for Ryland to see and hear me when I called out to get his attention.


There were several other dogs around, and some traffic, at the time Ryland stopped so he decided his dog would be most comfortable just hanging out in its crate-trailer.  Ryland and I talked about how much we appreciate and enjoy the park.  He and his dog were on their way to go watch the sun set.  (Watching the sun set from Mt. Tabor Park is one of the very best activities in Portland.  It's worth putting on your must-do list.)

"I'm getting to climb a lot," Ryland said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Ryland was having difficulty remembering if he had performed a recent act of kindness.  He seemed like a considerate and nice enough person, I knew he must have done something.  I pushed a little, explaining it could be any gesture of kindness.  He remembered that, earlier, he had held the door open for a person.  Yes, as simple as this is, isn't it a great act of kindness?  I love it when people take that extra moment to hold the door open for you and share a smile.

Ryland's personal mission statement is a quote from the poem, Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver, "you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."

When I asked Ryland something about himself he would consider to be a success, he replied, "I convinced Vanessa to marry me."  I thought he and his wife must be newlyweds for such a sweet sentiment, but he said they'd been married about three years.  We then tried to decide on a definition of "newlywed," and decided three years is still the "newlywed" phase.


Day 284 - Matt


This is Matt.  We met downtown Portland, near PSU.

I asked Matt the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he responded, "my daughter."

"To learn everything I can," Matt replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

When I asked Matt one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, he replied, "my thirst for knowledge."

Matt and I talked a little while longer and I asked him about his hopes and dreams.  He hopes to be able to get to a point where he can afford, outright, to send his daughter to college, and to buy a home.  We talked about his dreams being more grounded and practical than some, but what a beautiful dream.  I'm wishing Matt luck and success in making those dreams a reality.

I don't often get to go downtown but since I had a meeting on the westside after work, I decided to head downtown after the meeting let out.  Matt was just one of a hundred different people within a few block radius who I could have asked to be in this project.  I had the realization that I've had additional challenges with this project, simply because of my routine and location.  If I could spend more time in downtown Portland, I would have thousands of potential subjects.  As it is, it's been quite the challenge to find a person during my routine of: commute, work, work-out, commute home.  Although I love the idea of having hundreds or thousands of different subjects to choose from within a few block area, I've also mostly enjoyed the added challenge of having to actually search for a subject.  It makes me appreciate the process that much more, and makes me extremely appreciative when I do find people who will let me take their picture.  I don't know if this makes sense, but it would almost be "too easy," were I able to spend a ton of time in downtown Portland.


Day 285 - Joseph


This is Joseph.  We met when he was waiting for the bus.  I was feeling like people-repellent this day and was just about to decide this was going to be the day for my self-portrait.  Luckily, I met Joseph and he was willing to let me take his picture!

"I just got a promotion," Joseph said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

When I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he said that some kids in his line at work came up a few dollars short on their purchase, so he paid the difference for them.

I asked Joseph if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He was having trouble thinking of one, so I rephrased the question and asked about his life's purpose or hopes and dreams.   Joseph said he has dreams to travel the world.

Joseph was reserved in answering if there was something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  I pushed a little for an answer and knew he must have something.  I was going to remind him about his recent promotion if he couldn't think of an answer.  I again pushed a little and explained if it's difficult to think of something as a success, then what's something you're good at?  "Sports," Joseph replied.


Day 286 - Kestrel


Kestral was waiting for the bus when I sat down at the bench beside him to ask if I could take his picture.  Kestral agreed, but then went on to say that he isn't photogenic.  When people have told me this before, I explain to them that I totally understand and that's the reason I'm behind the camera!  I can completely empathize with people who don't really enjoy having their picture taken.  When I hear of this, it makes it really important to me to get a nice picture.  I want people to feel good about themselves!  I love the picture of Kestral and that you can detect his personal style and hope that if he sees this picture, he will be pleased.  This particular spot is a challenge to me and I struggle with getting the iconic Hollywood sign in the background. One of these days, I'll get it just right and perfectly capture both a nice portrait and a cool view of the Hollywood sign in the background.

When I asked Kestrel about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he replied, "my partner."

Kestrel's impromptu personal mission statement, "going forward because you can't go back."

I asked Kestrel one thing about himself he would consider to be a success and he replied, "the equity work at the job I'm doing."

I thanked Kestrel and we were on our separate ways.


Day 287 - Delray


This is Delray.  We also met at a bus stop where she and her son were waiting for their bus.

I asked Delray about the happiest thing happening in her life and she replied, "I'm working."

When I asked Delray if she had recently performed and act of kindness, she said that she had just given a woman a bus pass.

Defining a personal mission statement was proving to be challenging for Delray. I had given examples of other people's personal mission statements, but Delray was still having trouble thinking of a personal mission statement.  I presented it a few different ways, and then explained that it's like a personal motto or statement which guides you in living your life.  After hearing it presented in this way, Delray then replied, "try not to sin."

When I asked Delray if there's something about herself she would consider to be a success, she considered the question for a while but she just couldn't think of an answer. She finally explained that she used to think she was successful at being a good mom.  She then gestured to her very energetic and curious son, and said, "but sometimes he won't listen to me now." We talked about it and I pointed out my observation that even though he wasn't  listening, she was still very patient with him, and that's a good mother.  Delray then decided on her answer and replied, "parenting."

Delray is a beautiful young lady and I got the feeling she's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out!


Here's a summary of the mission statements of the people from this week:

  • Find a way to be happy.
  • Opening my heart, cultivating love and kindness, and finding ways to be of service.
  • "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."
  • To learn everything I can.
  • To travel the world.
  • Going forward because you can't go back.
  • Try not to sin.

If you've been a subject in this project  - thank you for allowing me to take your picture and for sharing a little of your life with us!  Please don't hesitate to e-mail me if you'd like a copy of your picture and I'd be happy to e-mail it to you.

Thank you for following another week of this project.  I just want to give you the heads up that the next two weeks are going to be pretty bumpy!  They're the busiest two weeks for me at my work.  I'm going to be out of town one weekend, and staying on-site at an event the following weekend.  I'll still post the daily pictures to instagram, @missellanea, but please know the blog post may be a little delayed.  Don't worry.  Everything is ok and I'm not giving up the project.  It'll just be a particularly challenging and busy couple of weeks and I'll post as soon as I'm able to.

Have a great week!