365 Day People Picture Project - Week 44

Hello, and thank you for checking in on week 44 of The 365 Day People Picture Project! If this is your first time stopping by, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year.  I'm not a photographer and I haven't even taken any photography classes or lessons.  I started this blog and quickly realized that blogging is hard work! Especially when you live an uninteresting life.  I needed blog content!  Having good content also means having good images.  I had neither, but the one thing I did have was a brand new, decent, entry-level DSLR.   With subtle influences from a few different sources, the realization that my need for both content and good images, and my hidden desire to become a recreational photographer, evolved into The 365 Day People Picture Project.

When I started this project, I had dreams of developing into a talented and skilled photographer with an artistic eye.  Well, I'm not even anywhere close to achieving that, but I'm not giving up.  I simply haven't worked hard enough at this, I haven't learned enough, and I ended up not even taking any photography workshops or classes.

I've been on my own with a few books and unlimited online resources, but there came a point when I was trying to study so much and so hard, I really wasn't absorbing anything.  I was getting frustrated, feeling stupid and defeated.

Now that I'm nearing the end of the 365 days, and after reviewing my recent photos, I realize that I'm not going to magically become the artist I had hoped to become in these last few days.  That was an unrealistic expectation, especially considering that I need some experienced coaching to get where I would like to be.

These last few weeks, starting next week, I will end the project exactly how I began the project.  My objective will be to see each subject as the beautiful person they are, and simply set out with the intention to capture their unique sparkle.

Day 302 - Peter James


Peter James was the last of my subjects from my working holiday in which I got to play tourist and stay at a hotel in Downtown Portland.  (I wasn't much of a good tourist, considering all I did was crash out as soon as we were done working.)

I asked Peter James the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he replied, "inner personal growth."

When I asked Peter James if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that he is in medicine, so he has the opportunity to perform acts of kindness for his patients.

"Self-transformation," was Peter James' answer, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.

Peter James was pretty bashful in giving an answer when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  He looked sort of pained when I asked him the question. He explained that he's humble in giving an answer because he feels like he has lots to work on.  He finally decided on an answer, and said, "perseverance."


Day 303 - Andrea


This is Andrea.  She's actually Brandy's co-worker. (Brandy was week 15.)  I spotted Brandy and Andrea outside of their shop and headed their way with the intention to say hi to Brandy, and also hoping Andrea would let me take her picture.  It was such a pleasant coincidence.  As I was walking toward their shop, I ran into Blanch (from week 37) and we were able to visit for a moment.  When I reached Brandy and Andrea, I could see another one of the subjects from this project waiting for the bus, just down the block! In that moment, I experienced another great community feeling.  In just a few short blocks, I encountered several new "friends."  All because of this project!

I asked Andrea the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "my boyfriend."  "My life is pretty great, actually," Andrea continued.

When I asked Andrea if she had performed a recent act of kindness, she explained that she was in line behind an elderly woman at the grocery store and when the elderly lady went to pay for her groceries, she realized she had forgotten her wallet at home.  Not wanting the lady to have to go all the way back home to retrieve her wallet, then come all the way back to the store to retrieve her already-shopped for groceries, Andrea paid for the elder's groceries.  She simply paid for them outright, not asking or expecting the woman to pay her back. It was a gift, not a loan.   What a sweetheart.

"Live life to its fullest," Andrea answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could make one up on the spot.

I asked Andrea one thing about herself she would consider to be a success and she replied, "my loyalty, and my children."


Day 304 - David


This is David.  He didn't even hesitate to answer when I approached him to ask if I could take his picture for this project.

When I asked David about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he gestured to his camera-shy partner, Bryen, and replied, "this man right here- he's my partner in crime and my partner in life."

David and Bryen were attempting to have dinner but the Burger Bar where they wanted to eat, was closed.  Lucky for me, because had the restaurant been open, they wouldn't have been standing outside the locked doors with sad and hungry eyes, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet them!

I asked David if he's recently performed an act of kindness.  David explained that when they go out to eat, they often donate their leftover meals to homeless people.  (sometimes people decline the gesture, but most often, people appreciate the meal.)

David was the third or fourth person in this project to have his personal mission statement actually tattooed on his body. (I've lost count - it's been a few though, and I love it!)  David's personal mission statement, the statement on his forearm, "endure life, be true, die happy."

I asked David one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "building friendships."  This was so obvious!  In the short time I had been visiting with David and Bryen, again, I felt like I had just met new friends.  I have no doubt, they build friendships wherever they go!

After we finished the picture and "interview," we visited a while longer. Knowing the guys were in the mood for a good burger, I suggested Sam's Billiards as an alternative since it was just around the corner.  We walked together since my car was parked next to Sam's.  I learned that David and Bryen had just moved to Portland, from Arizona,  the week prior.  I told them they brought the sun with them because it had been beautiful since they arrived.  They laughed and were actually looking forward to the rainy and overcast northwest weather.  David and Bryen would both be starting their new jobs in a few days and settling in to call Portland home.

Once again, this project has enabled me to be on the unofficial welcoming committee and welcome new residents to the area!

David and Bryen were nice and fun guys and I hope to run into them again some day.  A few days after David was the subject, the weather changed and we're back to our drizzly and misty Portland weather.  I was actually happy the weather changed so that David and Bryen could experience the weather of which they had been dreaming.


Day 305 - Dylan


I've been seeing Dylan around for a few months now.  I often leave work at the same time he's taking a break from his job down the street.  I've known I wanted to ask if he'd be in the project for a while, but I always spot him just after I pass the entrance of the parking lot where he works.  I told myself to remember to stop if I ever see an open parking spot on the street and he's out taking his break.  Finally!  There was an open spot on the street and not just one spot, but two!  It was perfect because I'm not the best parallel parker- I sort of need a landing runway.

I realized how funny it must have sounded as I quickly rambled the explanation of my project and how I finally had a parking spot in which to pull over.  In my quick and excited rambling, I'm sure the poor guy was only able to gather enough information to feel just a little creeped out to know someone had been watching him...but he agreed to be in the project anyway.  I was pretty embarrassed after I thought about it.

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

I asked Dylan if he had recently performed and act of kindness and he said that because of the area where we work, he has lots of opportunities to perform acts of kindness. There's a fairly large homeless population in the area, so he often gives people something to eat or drink.

"What you put out into the universe, you get back," Dylan said, is his personal mission statement.  Dylan said he tries to be nice to everyone.

One thing about himself which Dylan considers to be a success - is that he quit smoking this year!!  I wished him continued success!


Day 306 - John and Trevor


This is John (left) and Trevor (right).  I almost felt as though they were plants and I was being punked.

I could tell they were nice guys but they were sooooo mellow.  In their own way, I think they were playing with me- but they assured me they weren't.

I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and they both agreed they were happy about summer break.

When I asked the pair if they had recently performed an act of kindness, they both replied flatly, "no."  I laughed.  I thought they were joking because they were just so dry about it.  Plus, I got a good feeling about them, so I was certain they must have performed some sort of act of kindness. They kept insisting they hadn't.  Finally, I think just to make me shut up, Trevor said that he gave his girlfriend a glass of water.

When I asked if they had a personal mission statement, or could think of one on the spot, Trevor answered first, saying, "no fun."  John then quickly fired back, "party."  "No fun," followed by "party"...see why I thought they were joking with me?

If it was a challenge to find out if they had performed a recent act of kindness, it was even more challenging to find out if there was something about themselves they would consider to be a success.  I was so thrilled when they both gave genuine answers, and quite interesting ones at that!  Trevor finally responded, "I have a garden."  John then replied, after much more pressing, "decorating."

I knew these guys were interesting.  I just have a feeling they're so interesting, they were F'ing with me the whole time.


Day 307 - Ryan Sollee


This is Ryan Sollee, of the band, "The Builders and the Butchers."  I know he looks like the sweet guy who works in the IT department, but he's one hellofa badass rock star.  The sound that comes from this man is absolutely incredible!

I'm embarrassed by how badly I blew this picture.  But in my defense, I was suddenly nervous when I approached Ryan to ask if I could take his picture. I only recently discovered The Builders and the Butchers a few months ago when Ryan opened for Langhorne Slim in a solo show.  I was blown away!  Ryan's voice and lyrics are intense and some of the songs caused goosebumps!  I purchased two CD's the night of that solo show, and when I'm not listening to audio books, I'm listening to either Lucero, Langhorne Slim, or The Builders and the Butchers.

Having only seen Ryan's solo show, I didn't even know what the rest of the band looked like.  I made it a point to arrive to the show early and I spotted Ryan just as soon as I arrived.  He was talking with some other guys, who turned out to be the rest of the band. I interrupted them, asked for a pardon for interrupting them,  and then asked Ryan if I could take his picture for the project.   Ryan agreed to let me take his picture and then gestured for the other guys to join.  You know how I am about group photos - I knew I would blow it!  It was so embarrassing.  Not only had I basically ignored the rest of the band by accident, but my terror of having to take a group photo must have read on my face like I only wanted to take Ryan's picture.  I just don't do well with group photos yet. (partially because a group picture is a challenge to begin with, partially because I don't know what I'm doing, and partially because I don't have the right lens.)  The other guys told Ryan it was ok and we went outside to take the picture.  If I had only known how badly I was going to fail, I would have insisted the entire band join in the picture. (I'm convinced I would have done a better job.)

We stepped outside to take the picture but I was so busy rambling on about how much I enjoy his music, that I lacked any sort of concentration or focus.  Ryan had been giving a cute little "ta-da" sort of pose and I just babbled right through it and took the picture at just the completely wrong time.  The result was not good.  The pictures were so poorly composed and my timing was so off, you would have thought I had taken the pictures with my eyes closed. Plus, I managed to somehow capture Ryan at just the wrong moment and it made him look like a contortionist because I caught him as he was ending his cute little "ta-da" pose.  The picture shown here was my effort to rescue at least one of the bad shots I had taken, enough so that I could share something with you. I had to crop the hell out of it.  (It was nearly 1am  by time I got home and since it was past midnight, I had to use one of Ryan's pictures.  I couldn't go out to find another subject since it was technically the next day and if I didn't use Ryan's picture, then I would have missed a day.)  So, here we are.  I had an opportunity to take the picture of an amazing and talented musician, but I let my admiration for his work interfere with my mission.

I'm not a music critic or reviewer, so I don't even know how to appropriately review a band or a genre/sound, but tried explaining them to one of my friends by saying The Builders and the Butchers are a blend between rock and alt country, a little folk/americana-ish, with a sprinkling of gospel and sometimes the almost-detectable pulse of Native drumming. (or what seems to be at least a slight influence of Native drumming. I get this vibe because of my own personal life experience. I'm not certain if it's accurate or true.)

They sing about addiction and redemption, death, women...and black dresses!  After seeing the entire band live, it became apparent why I pick up on a Native drumming sort of vibe - they have two drummers! You're compelled to stomp your feet and dance with the rhythm.  Ryan's voice also contributes to that vibe.   Ryan sings with purpose and intent and some songs feel like he's given you his soul.  He's not simply singing just to entertain - it's more like a cry or a prayer.  In some songs it's more like he's giving praise or thanks. You don't just hear the music, you completely absorb the lyrics and the stories Ryan sings in his songs.

In one live show, you journey from partying and hard drinkin', meeting a woman in a black dress who drinks away her history,  you encounter some bad parents, a few deaths, you succumb hopelessly and completely into addiction, ready for death - you cry to God, "take me home."  Broken, but not yet dead, you cry out again, "find me o' find me, in the air, Lord." And then you find it...redemption!  It's like an alcohol-soaked church sermon!  And, it's incredible!

So, you can see why I got a little preoccupied and blew my picture.

I asked Ryan the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "I have a 2 year old."  This was a pretty beautiful answer considering he was about to perform a show and they just came off a tour in Germany.

When I asked Ryan if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that he had asked his friend, of the band Bash Face, to open for them in the attempt to help them up.  Had I not known this, I would have missed  the sincere appreciation expressed by Bash Face for the opportunity.  Several times throughout their performance, they thanked The Builders and the Butchers and it was obvious they were excited and grateful for the chance!

I asked Ryan if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  I noticed that it seemed like he specifically had to make the distinction between his personal mission statement, and perhaps whatever guides his music.  He replied, "try to do as many different things as possible, all the time."

When I asked Ryan one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, I speculated the answer would be his music/the band.  He surprised me and warmed my heart when he said, "being a Dad."  He must have detected the surprise in my face as I was expecting his answer to be about the band, but he went on to say that being a Dad is way more joyous and fulfilling than being in a band.

And with that, Happy Father's Day!


Day 308 - Casey


This is Casey.

"Doing good with work, earning money," was Casey's reply, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Casey if he had performed a recent act of kindness and he said that he recently helped a person out who was in a bad place in her life.

When I asked Casey if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he had trouble thinking of a response.  Casey is young and just beginning his life - so this wasn't surprising at all.  I rephrased the question to ask about his life's purpose instead.  Casey replied, "to be successful."   Curious, and wanting to help narrow down the focus for Casey, I asked him how he defines success.  He went on to say that success is "accomplishing your personal life goals" and "doing what makes you happy".  I remember back when I was Casey's age.  Everything was so cyclical.  He's not certain of his personal mission statement, or his life's purpose, but he has the ambition to be a success. It's like you know you want to do something, and you want to do it well, but you just don't know what that something is!  At that age, it felt like the possibilities were endless and the thought of that was also terrifying and paralyzing. I remember feeling like I can do anything I want...but I don't know what to do!  Again, I narrowed down the focus even further and asked Casey about some of his life's goals.  We were then able to break things down quite simply. The first step for Casey, is that he wants to get his own place and take care of "life stuff" such as that.  Direction!  We found it!  I'm optimistic Casey will make these things happen for himself!

When I asked Casey one thing about himself he would consider to be a success, he again mentioned his job.

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

  • Self-transformation.
  • Live life to its fullest.
  • Endure life, be true, die happy.
  • What you put out into the universe, you get back.
  • "Party" / "No fun,"  (can we change this to be - find a balance between work and play?)
  •  Try to do as many different things as possible, all the time.
  • To be successful.

Thank you to every subject in this project!  It couldn't exist without you!  Please feel free to contact 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 along with this project!

Have a great week!