Day 3 Colin Kane. I wish this guy was a little nicer? But oh well. He's a movie star and a comedian, so I guess there's that...
Day 40. Mike.
****Create.**** Day 42.
For the better part of a decade, I've known this guy and watched as he's continually evolved artistically. Initially, in 2004, I contacted his band about doing hair for them, as they were a local band and I really liked their sound. I tried to align myself with musicians who I enjoyed musically as well as personally, and this band (On The Last Day) was local and obviously (to me) on the cusp of doing something great. As the years progressed, I watched as they got signed to a well known indie label and toured the world, before finally calling it a day. After putting down the guitar, he started working at a tattoo shop, flexing an artistic side that I hadn't ever seen in him before. Within a year, he was apprenticing a tattoo artist and became a full fledged tattoo artist himself. He fought through adversity to get to where he is now and has totally turned himself into one of the most unique tattoo artists that I have ever seen. He tattoos the most beautiful imagery, much like he paints. His blends of color and eye for beauty in the details has made him a very successful Seattle ink slinger. Beyond just that, he's one of the most personable and relatable guys I have ever known. He's lived life and maintains perspective that few his age have. Simply put, to me, he has been an absolutely integral part of my growth and is a dear friend. Justin Johnson, owner of Seattle Ink & Oil epitomizes art, personality, and friendship. #JG365Project
Earlier in the week, my buddy Donte contacted me about shooting the cover of his upcoming record, set in the old neighborhood where he grew up. Much has changed in the old 'hood, but some things are still the same as they ever were. His old house is still there, but it's a business now. The old pancake house that he used to eat at every Sunday is still standing, but it's now vacated. While shooting, he even stopped and talked to the mother of an old teammate of his, who still lives on the same block. I think this picture captures both the old and the new. You can grow, you can move away, but the block still resides within you. Day 122. #JG365Project. #DontePeace
Every day, I relate a story to a photo, and most days it comes fairly easy. Certain photos have more words or stories than I could possibly begin to relay and today is one of those. How does this guy fit into my life? Where do I even begin? Pictured here, is Deon, who plays bass in a band that has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life since I started paying attention to them almost a decade ago. Anberlin would record their albums in Seattle, mere blocks away from where I lived. They'd stay for a month and we'd hang out almost nightly/daily. The bond went beyond the music, beyond the haircuts, beyond the late night jam sessions at the recording studio. We'd sit and smoke cigarettes, drink beer and talk about life. I went and visited him and his wife in St. Petersburg, FL a few years back and I envision I'll have to do that more in the future, because at the end of the year, Anberlin is calling it a career. I'd probably write a chapter in my book of life to justly give Deon his place, but for today, he's day 178 of the #JG365Project and that'll have to suffice.
When I transferred school districts at the beginning of 9th grade, I didn't really know many people, but my way of meeting friends came about because of sports. I played basketball and ran track, so I was introduced to this guy in 9th grade ball when we both made the team. He was one of, if not the first people to let me cut his hair that year and quickly became a "regular" client at the young age of 14. He, and his 2 brothers were lifetime soccer players and while in H.S., they helped to lead our team to 3 WA State Titles in 4 years. So, while watching the US soccer match yesterday, I thought of him, because whenever I've had a question about soccer, I could always ask him, without feeling like a moron. He was one of my best friends through our school years and when I first moved to Seattle, I lived with him before I got on my own two feet. He's been coming to see me for haircuts still to this day, so last night, after his cut, it made perfect sense to photograph him for day 181 of the #JG365Project. This is Mike, a friend of mine for 19 years now, soccer fanatic, and soon-to-be new Dad with his wife Laura.
I used to hate holidays, but a few years ago, when I started taking photography seriously, I began to love July 4th. It was the fireworks. And then, it was the patriotic photo booth. Soon enough, it was my favorite holiday. Last year, I spent July 4th in Charlotte, N.C., after a stint with Justin Bieber, and then documenting the beginning of Train's summer tour. This year, I spent it with Mimi and her friends, watching the fireworks from Lake Washington. We talked about what it means to have our freedom, how the meaning of the holiday so often gets lost in commercialism, and what future generations will experience as they are equals in society. Pictured here, is Evalyn, barely over a year old and absolutely full of life. As she grows up, it'll be such a unique place in history for her and her peers, as she is able to exist in our free country, able to do anything she wants, without the pressure to conform to what used to be a societal norm for a female. The future for her, is as bright as the fireworks in the sky tonight... #JG365Project Day 184
Day 248. Jeff and Chandler wedding.
When I went back to working as an employee this March, after having worked for myself the 5 years prior, I didn't second guess for a second where I was going. There weren't many salons that would be willing to take me on as an employee, dealing with the paperwork of Child Support and having me basically making my own schedule as I had in the past, but running all the transactions through their books. Little did I know however, how great the staff at the salon was going to be. Within a month, my former co-worker from Mars came with me and completed the current salon staff that exists at Zero Zero today. I haven't had a crew of people that I've gotten along with better, in my entire 12+ years of doing hair. That says a lot, because I've worked with some pretty awesome people. One of the things I love the most, is how interactive I get to be with the people around me and at times, their clients as well. Today was one of those instances. We were all goofing off, with Andy and I taking "pregnancy photos" and poking fun of the fact that I eat far too many donuts. The person taking those photos? Clients. It's that kind of camaraderie and interaction at the salon that makes each day at work a real blessing. Here's Rob and Lauren, photographed after Jennifer did their hair. It was the least I could do after Rob took such a great polaroid of Andy and I... #JG365Project Day 282.
Joey. Deon. Christian. Nate. Stephen. Day 288. #JG365Project
On a road trip this summer, my son and I spent quite a bit of time talking to each other in the car, much of it about video games and ice cream, but some topics touched on more of a serious nature. Before we had even made it out of the state, we stopped at an antique mall in Kalama, WA. One in particular was memorable, but not in the best way. An employee at the store came up to us and made a fairly rude remark to Christian, about his dad being covered in tattoos. It was likely the first time he had really seen a prejudice in his own world. After we left, he told me that her comment was rude and we proceeded to talk about how important it is not to pass judgement on people. Being tattooed is a choice, yes, but it doesn't automatically qualify me for community service on the side of the freeway, picking up trash in an orange jumpsuit. Even though the interaction he experienced was rude, it was a good lesson that I could help teach him. Today, when I took photos of Shannon, she talked about how she wanted to have some shots that actually showed off her tattoos, so when her clients actually met her in person, they weren't put off by how covered she is. I purposely took this photo to hide the tattoos, because I wanted to bring the aforementioned lesson to light, without anyone actually seeing Shannon's tattoos first. She's a talented and driven young woman who also is a mom to a 7 year old daughter. She manages to balance work, travel, and life and is another great example of someone who is tattooed, but not defined BY them. #JG365Project Day 297.
I'm having WAY too much fun playing Apples to Apples at home with Mimi and Christian to write much tonight. Candle light, family time, and ridiculous outfits = can't be beat. Here's a photo of Bri, that I shot earlier today. I went black and white with it, because we just had a power outage. Why not? #JG365Project Day 298
It's been awhile since I was a kid and really got into the dress up aspect of Halloween, but I'm not too far removed to remember how excited I would get when my mom helped me with my costume each year. She was the greatest and would hand sew me items to help make my costume extra special. Admittedly, I'm not a handy person and I'm only creative within the realms I choose to display. For the last month or so, Christian has been planning his costume for Halloween and with it getting close to crunch time, there was one vital element to his costume still unfinished. He's going as a character from his favorite video game, which is a 18th century vigilante. The missing item? Boots. Not just your average pair of Docs, but he needs something vintage feeling, but we hadn't been able to find something in his size and in my price range. Until today. We stopped in Fremont to go thrifting and stumbled upon a great store called Gold Dogs, where he immediately found his ideal pair. The kicker? They were 13 dollars. The delight on his face when I bought them and let him wear them right away was something that makes being a parent all worth it. After we left, he asked me "Who's gonna be your portrait today dad?" I had no idea, and asked him what he thought I should do. After a moment of contemplation, he said "the girl who just sold us the boots!" Sheepishly, we turned around and waltzed back inside and asked her if she would be willing to be a part of this ongoing project which is in its 299th day today. This is Kelsey, and she helped to ensure my little man is going to have the best costume. Moments like this, where I get to help make the most of my time as a parent are all worth it. Focus on the good in your life. This whole project is about that. #JG365Project.
Three hundred. Last year, by this time, I had put my own face in front of the camera more times than I can count. This year, I've purposely kept myself from my feed, outside of a few interspersed family photos or a self portrait in this series. When I show up in this series, it's usually heavy. Today is no different. A few weeks back, I assisted a photographer whom I greatly admire, on an impromptu photo shoot that he planned at the last minute. He had assisted me the day before, helping to drive a misplaced item to portland, that Anberlin had forgotten in Seattle. We stayed the night at our friends farm, which was the setting for his photo shoot. In my assistance, I helped to take behind the scenes footage for him and in doing so, I made certain my boundaries were clear. His photos are beautiful and he shoots women, with at times tasteful and artistic nudity. I helped for a bit, then went back to taking photos of the farm. Having a girlfriend, I didn't want to use any of my photos for my own purposes, as they were meant to help and give an alternate take on his shoot. At the time, my girlfriend and I hadn't been talking, so I wasn't able to clear it. I felt nervous, but I had established my boundaries and kept my distance. I made the choice to help, which obviously wasn't the right choice. I'm an adult and acted more on the feeling of needing to help a friend, rather than thinking of the damage that my assistance could have caused. Fast forward a week and my assistance on that shoot cost me a relationship with someone whom I cared deeply for. I'm not in the business of taking nude photos of people. I want to document life and capture people as they are. I'll leave the artistic stuff to people who do it very well. So, for day 300 of the #JG365Project, I'm bidding farewell to myself in front of the camera. This'll be the last time I am a part of this project. I just want to focus on continuing to be the best person and father I can be. I'll keep learning and I'll take a lot of wonderful memories from the past 10 months with her. She's a wonderful person who I will miss dearly.
I needed this. After a busy evening at work, an hour with my boss, and a stressful bus ride after, I jumped off the bus in downtown Seattle and started walking to where I'm staying at. A few moments later, I got a text from a friend, mentioning someone who follows me through here. He just so happened to be in town and even though I've never met him, I had the feeling this was going to be a quality interaction. I doubled back a few blocks and made my way to where they were at, being introduced within a few moments. For the next 4 hours, we hung out, eating pie, singing karaoke, and finally, having one of the best conversations while in the car. He and I talked about relationships, Faith, what I could have done better, and letting the ultimate plan manifest itself, rather than beating myself up. An hour after midnight, I caught a photo of him right before I drove him to where he's staying while in Seattle. This is Matt, a photographer and videographer from Texas. I've written a lot about the power of words, of positivity, and actions and this man walks that walk. We all have our ups and downs, but having solid, healthy people in your life-- in this case, someone I'd never met before-- can really help to keep us uplifted and focused on the bigger picture. We may be walking this life, but we can't control everything. It's so easy to forget, but you just have to relinquish control and allow God to do work. #JG365Project day 301.
I told myself today that this project was going to start to take a turn as these next few months wind down. In shooting everyday, I start to feel incredibly redundant, both in text and in presentation. I'll go in these spurts, where I shoot similar things, or I edit to a particular style that I'm riffing off of. Imagine the challenge of trying to make dinner for 365 days in a row, but not feel like you've made the same meal once a week at least. This is somewhat like that, except I'm making it public that from time to time, I can't help but create something that I've done before. I've used the same block around my salon so many times that I'm actually hoping that they tear something else down so I have a new backdrop to shoot against. I'm genuinely excited for this project to be over. Not because I don't enjoy shooting. I love that. Mostly, because once it's over, I can take the pressure off, of feeling like I HAVE to create something. This has all been a learning experience. I'm learning a lot about posing, angles, light, editing, and now, I'm going to learn about how to just let it all go. I've turned off all notifications on my phone. I'm going to post and then forget about it for the rest of the evening. I'm going to focus on making sure that I take care of me and in doing so, that I don't become a slave to the "notifications", like many of us are, myself included. Hi, I'm Jake, and I was an addict. This, however is Bryan, and he's not an addict, he's just a really rad client of mine who I faded today. SO CLEAN! #JG365ProjectDay 302.
I've had a lot of people tell me that this project should become something more than just daily IG posts (a book), but I wouldn't know a thing about really where to begin with it. That wasn't the purpose anyhow, but I do know a few people who do. One of them, an author and great buddy of mine I've already shot this year. Another, is the guy pictured here. Before I knew him, I knew of him. I went to an art opening of his last year, in support of another friend. We didn't meet that night, but as the world of social networks go, he became someone who I followed online not long after. By September of this year, I still hadn't met him, when my friends Ryan and Nick came to visit Seattle and stayed at his apartment. He was out of town at the time, working on his book "The Sun and The Soil", about the 2014 Wine Harvest in Oregon. He's writing and photographing for it, which is an inspiration to me in and of itself. I finally met him and by then, it felt like in some ways I already knew him. This week, I've been staying at his place while I'm apartment hunting. Just being in his apartment is inspiring, so it's no wonder he's such a creative guy himself. If you've got the time, go check Easton out and see what he's all about. He posts regularly about his process with the book. You won't be upset that you did. #JG365Project Day 303
All these Halloween posts and the one that I choose to showcase for day 304 isn't a costumed character, but instead my son. We went on an early morning hike, through an empty lake bed and sat under an abandoned train bridge, just talking. One-on-one, uninhibited father-son time. It's been a good week of talking and making sure that I understand the people who I love the most, and today, Christian and I had a great chat. I love this kid. #JG365project.
If you've never been to a Seahawks game in person, you likely miss something that elicits one of the most spirited roars that the game will produce. Immediately prior to the opening kickoff, in the south end of the stadium, perched above the field is a platform with a flag pole, where individuals are called upon to raise the banner that is recognized throughout this entire region. The "12th Man Flag", massive in size and simplistic in nature is hoisted high above the field, producing a deafening roar, which sets the tone for the first play of the game. From there, the fans proceed to lose their minds and voices for the next 60 minutes of game time. Flag raisers typically are a local celebrity or former player and today, thanks to the generosity of my good friend Brock, I was able to attend the game with my son Christian -- his first game ever. I wanted him to get the full experience, so we hiked up to the 300 level and stood directly in front of the flag platform, anxiously awaiting the ceremony, while the rain fell down on our heads. This is what it's all about. I get so much out of being able to be PRESENT for these moments with my kids and hopefully, this'll be something that he remembers for quite some time. Day 306 of the #JG365Project is former Seahawk offensive linemen Robbie Tobeck, Steve Hutchinson, Chris Gray and Sean Locklear. #GOHawks.
I was the first of my immediate peer group to have a kid. At 22, Christian came along, which forces you to grow up quite a lot faster than you typically would intend to. No matter how many books you read about parenting, there's truly no book on it. Every parental situation is different. We all have different schedules for work, needs as humans, moods that make us individuals, so when you factor that all in, nothing can tell you EXACTLY what you'll be up against as a new parent. You just make the best of it, growing along the way. What the kids don't really know, is that their parents are learning continually throughout the process too. I used to think all parents knew everything, which is probably the furthest thing from the truth. Today, I had the chance to shoot a quick photo of my buddy Dan, who is a new parent himself, to a beautiful boy named William. Out of all the advice I could think of to give him, I told him this "There will be times, where you think you have no place. Like your'e in the way, or that you just can't do anything helpful, other than to just give your wife a break. Be patient. This will pass. You are incredibly important to that child's life." Lord knows, I still have days when I feel like I can't do anything right, both as an adult and as a parent. It's cool to see my friends having kids now and watching as they experience these joys for the first time. Everything changes once you introduce offspring, but it's worth it. #JG365Project Day 307. (Besides being a new dad, Dan is an incredibly talented designer, app developer, entrepreneur, and musician. He also helped build the most amazing tree house I have ever seen. App Store: Treehouses of the Northwest for your iPad)
I think I first heard of the subject for Day 308 because of our work with the same bands. I'm fairly certain it was an Anberlin connection, but however it was, I started following him earlier this year on Instagram and have seen a really impressive body of work in the process. As things typically go, after scanning my timeline today, I saw him post a photo in front of the Pike Place Market sign, which immediately caused me to comment on the post. He's currently out on tour with a band that comes from an era of music that we both have decided makes us "no spring chickens". Within a half hour, I had walked to the venue where he's at tonight and we took a stroll around downtown Seattle, perusing a record store and looking for a magazine that features some of his current work. As we walked, discussion turned to our mutual friends in the music industry, how you make and retain positive connections, and ultimately, how doing good work and focusing on the job at hand will always be your best way to keep a good reputation. He's obviously done his fair share of this throughout his career, which is why he continues to work with quality bands and brands, creating incredible photography while still maintaining a very appreciative and humble approach. The #JG365Project has seen a lot of photographers on the other side of the lens, and Jered is a special one. Thanks for hanging today!
Every time I've run into this guy throughout the year, I've had my portrait for the day already accomplished or planned out. When I woke up this morning, for some reason, he was on my mind and I set out immediately to contact him about meeting up for coffee. He lives only a few blocks away from where I work and thankfully was around, since his band is in and out from tour regularly. We've known each other for years and if you've ever seen his band Emery perform, you definitely know who he is as well. With his long hair, thick beard, and piercing eyes, he's one of the most animated people that you've ever seen burn up a stage. As the "throaty" vocalist, he's shredding his voice, while manning the keyboards, and simultaneously jumping through the roof and commanding the crowd that is equally as amped as he is. The stage demeanor couldn't be further than the calming character that he is in person however. He's ultra soft spoken and when you sit and talk with him, he has this wisdom-like quality that is heard in every word he speaks. I'm not sure he's had a haircut since the one time I cut it all off prior to Emery's photo shoot for their 2007 album "I'm Only A Man", but at this point, I can't imagine him without his trademark long hair, now pulled back into a bun. This is Josh, a lifetime PNW native and day 309 of the #JG365Project.
Of all the cool things about this daily project I've set about accomplishing, one of my favorites is the actual interaction I get with my subjects. Some of them I've known forever, others I've just met. The later was the case today, with an introduction through a previous subject in the project. He's the drummer from New Politics, who is playing Seattle tonight at a near-capacity show at a The Neptune. We stepped out for dinner and over our meal, we discussed the importance of creating a live show that really connects with an audience. I can relate, if only through this project, because the actual connection that these photos and stories have is much the same. As music sells less and less these years, the sustainability of the industry rests largely in a bands ability to tour-- and really create something that people want to see over and over. The band really prides itself on cultivating that experience. As we talked, it seemed as if I'd known him for a long time, despite our very recent introduction. After dinner, we walked back to the bus and snuck into an American Apparel store to take a few snaps. The mannequins seemed a fun backdrop and he stepped up to the challenge. For the 310th entry into this series, Louis of New Politics was my guy. A genuinely fun and interesting portrait to shoot, I'll look forward to seeing how his band grows as they drop their new album early in 2015. #JG365project.
They say to count your blessings, because one day, they may be gone. This is true with every aspect in life. Wealth, possessions, health, and family. Nothing is permanent, but for all of my 33 years on this planet, I've had just that. Permanence and blessings, in the form of these two pictured here. To say they helped to raise me would be an understatement. I spent the better part of my first 5 years on this planet living with my mom at their house, which they sold in 2008 after 40+ years in it. Today, I picked up Christian from school and drove the extra 30 minutes to where they live now, spending the afternoon and evening with them. I had Christian mow their lawn and I asked to take their photo for their Christmas cards, and for this crazy little project. To actually still have my grandparents around is something special. I was their first grandchild and now, they've got 10. They were there for my birth and Christian's as well, constantly supporting me throughout my life, through the ups and all of the downs. I'll likely be seeing a lot more of them, as I begin the transition to living back on their side of the state, but for now, they are an incredibly important day 311 of the #JG365project. This is Chuck and Elva, my Grandparents.
You know the friends you have, who you see only so often, but when you do, it's as if a day hasn't even gone by? For me, this is him. We've been friends since high school, although he was a year older than I was. His parents house was at the end of my driveway and we would carpool to school together. More typically, we would skip the first half of the day, smoke weed and play video games, before heading to class so that we got our requisite time in so we could attend track practice. He and I were a part of an ill-fated 4x400 team that set a school record, but was disqualified from the state meet in the process. It resulted in me threatening the opposing coach who protested our win, which then saw me stripped of my team captain status. Oops. It's a miracle he and I turned out as decent human beings. He's now the father of 3 children and is helping to start a church in our hometown. As we spent the day together and watched our kids playing as if they'd been friends for years, I couldn't help but think that the torch had been passed. We survived into adulthood and now we get to joke about the old days, while doing our best to be the best parents we can be. Day 312 of the #JG365Project is one of my oldest friends, Mr. Ryan Morales.
As soon as I had the chance, I left my hometown and didn't think I would ever look back. It was a relatively small town, I enjoyed growing up there, but as a teenager, I felt the grass was greener elsewhere. It's been 15 years since I lived there and after a quick weekend back, I spent it assessing my current life situation. I love Seattle, but it's become so insanely expensive that I can't live there anymore. My son loves 110 miles away and as he is about to enter middle school, I feel it's best to be closer in case he really needs me. My daughter is 10 months old and in an effort to be present, Seattle makes no sense for me. My dad has Alzheimer's and my grandparents are getting older. After a decade + in Seattle, I can honestly say that I have done everything that I ever dreamed of and more. I was a kid from a small town with aspirations of something greater and I achieved them beyond my wildest dreams. So now, it's time to make sure that my own kids, who are growing up in small towns are also able to achieve their own wildest dreams. I'll be moving back home soon but before doing that, I needed to figure out where I will live, work, a network, and in that, a home church. Which leads me to today's subject. This is Bryan, who isn't from a small town. He jumped at the chance to move to Yakima, much the opposite of me. His purpose, was to help start a church, which I attended today and felt comfortably at home in. He's the associate pastor, hailing from Southern California. A former hardcore musician who's played venues that I was all too familiar with, he's now planted semi-permanently in Central Washington and helped to make me feel at home, in my hometown today. This'll be a major transition for me, but if this guy can do it, I can too. It's all about priorities. #JG365Project day 313
Another restless night of sleep had me awake around 3:45 AM and it took me a few hours to fall back asleep. I responded back to an e-mail re: a photo shoot I had scheduled for today and by 7:30, I was up and showered. I headed off to work, cut hair for a few hours and then left for the first of two shoots I had scheduled. Along the way to my first location, I got notification that my evening shoot was going to be rescheduled. After arriving at my afternoon location, I walked up to the front door and was informed that they were going to have to reschedule too. I was not a happy camper by that point, but there isn't much I could do about it. No-shows/cancellations have been a part of my career, both in hair and now with photography. I went from having more than I needed for my daily project, to nothing at all. Since the day was so beautiful (seriously, canceling a shoot on a day like today was someone else's loss) I made my way to St. Edward's State Park and went for a nature hike, finding my way through the myriad of trails to the shores of Lake Washington. I sat for awhile to catch my breath and saw many people come and go, before I decided upon my frame for this shot. If it was going to be an anonymous person, I wanted it to resemble something that my landscape shots normally would. For day 314 of the #JG365Project, I captured a woman gazing out along the water, catching the golden sun rays, before heading off on her afternoon jog. Sometimes, you've just got to stop and let the sun hit your face, to remember that even when things don't go your way, life is still really good.
About a month ago, I received a rather peculiar email, requesting my services. In it, a mother inquired if I would be willing to scale onto a roof and shoot photos of her daughter for some fun family shots. Apparently I was referred by someone from church, and they said "He'd be down to do that". When you think about it, the idea of a 250 lb., 6'4" male, with $3k worth of camera gear, climbing around on a roof probably isn't a good one. That being said, I have been wanting to shoot photos on a rooftop for quite some time. Every roof I've shot on this year has been a controlled environment, with a flat surface and railings. This, wasn't the case. It was a steep roof, with typical roof shingles and thankfully, it hadn't rained in the past 2 days. Otherwise, personal injury could have occurred. As it was, this was one of the shots that I got, as Abi sat perched atop her roof, while the sun glistened down on her. My middle name is Andrew, but today, it was Danger. #JG365Project day 315. Happy Veterans Day.
I'm usually so methodical with putting my daily portrait post out, but after a nice after-work dinner last night, I promptly fell asleep. My initial hope for day 316 was dashed, but thankfully, this guy was able to stand in instead. This is my client Bob, who has been letting me cut his hair for the last few years now, after finding me at my old salon and following me to Zero Zero. He's recently switched jobs and I offered after this haircut to take a quick shot so he could update his Linked In profile photo. I've stared at this photo off and on for the last 16 hours and I'm really happy with it. Something about how clean it is, but it makes me appreciate the simplicity. In my continued effort to work on my black and white edits, I'll be posting sans-color for a bit longer. #JG365project.
If any of you went to the salon that I had for 3 years, you'd know that my biggest artistic influence has always been street art. Specifically, wheat-pasted murals and sticker collages. I had a photo booth that had my own collages and I thoroughly enjoyed changing up the backdrop. Tonight, our neighbors at my current salon had a sticker themed art show and I popped over to check it out. They've got stickers from all over the world, put together over frames and street signs, much in the same style as I used to create. I was able to check the art installation out with my co workers, Andy and Kegan while snapping this frame for day 317 of the #JG365Project.
On Tuesday, May 18th of 1993, in my hometown of Yakima, WA a band on the verge of national stardom had their concert cancelled due to a large group of rowdy fans. I was 12 the time and I recall the incident, even though I wasn't familiar with the band who was playing. Admittedly, I was really late to the Grunge movement, so the Screaming Trees weren't on my radar at that moment. About 10 years later, I found myself in Seattle, cutting hair and met a client who turned out to be the drummer for the Screaming Trees. At that time, he was working on solo material, but for about a year, I cut his hair and we bonded over music and our ties to the small part of Central Washington that we were each from. As the years have gone on, I've seen him intermittently and I also learned that he played with a few guys who were better known as Nirvana, although he'd probably try to change the subject if you asked him about it. In one of the more random moments of this project, I ran into him today, in an antique store, about 100 miles outside of Seattle. We both recognized each other and chatted for a bit, before I asked him if he'd let me take a quick photo of him for day 318 of the #JG365Project. This is Mark Pickerel, drummer, singer, record collector, and former member of one of Grunge's seminal bands, the Screaming Trees. All hail rock & roll.
I've been dabbling in black and white for the past few weeks, because I wanted to work on a few things. I'm so accustomed to shooting in color, editing in color, and ultimately doing things the way I want to. In an effort to challenge myself, I quietly started editing all of my photos in b&w. Throughout that time, I also, along with my best friend, decided to work on a few things too. We'd both seen things in our own lives in black and white so strongly, but through some much needed conversation, we decided that maybe there was room for some color. She saw things one way, I saw things another. I had to really step back and see that my own perspective wasn't the only one that mattered. Coincidentally, as we got to the point of being able to discuss these things, she realized that there was room to also step back and see things different than she'd seen them before too. Having your best friend be your significant other is a blessing. There's no denying that. Being two stubborn people creates challenges too, but this is something different than I've ever experienced before. I've never had any desire to really see things in a relationship beyond black and white. She hadn't either. It'll take continual work, but having the ability to work on things and communicate out of love has made all the difference. Today, I'm breaking out of my 2 week stint of presenting my life in black and white. Today, I shot a photo of my best friend Mimi, who has caused me to see color in ways that I've never seen it before. #JG365Project Day 319.
This post today had me thinking back quite awhile, going into the mid-90's and my middle school days. In the 7th and 8th grade, I began a phase in my life where I routinely got into trouble. I allowed myself to be influenced by others and my popular culture, to the point, where I glorified a culture that A; I knew nothing about, and B; was not something to celebrate whatsoever. I'd sneak out at night, wandering the streets with friends, yanking hood ornaments off of cars, thinking I was gangster. I'd spray paint on sidewalks, because I thought that was gangster. We listened to Mobb Deep and Scarface, because we assumed it was the soundtrack to being a gangster. I probably memorized Menace II Society because I watched it religiously, all in the name of being a G. The fact of the matter, is that I knew nothing. I hate violence. I love community, but I can't celebrate hating on someone else because of what colors they wear. Being a "real" gangster is something that I'm fortunate I know nothing about. Pictured here, is Chevy, and contrary to my minimal knowledge of that world, he DOES know a lot about it. He's a former gang member who has quite a story to tell, but is fortunate enough that he can still tell it. Not everyone he knows can say the same. Nowadays, he's spending his non-work/family time, by periodically covering up gang tattoos from kids who want to get away from that life. He's donating his talents at his church, where he provides all of the graphic design work. And more than anything, he's a living, breathing example that people CAN change. Even when he was gang banging, he knew there was a greater plan out there for him. Day 320 of the #JG365Project is about redemption, faith, and perseverance. Chevy is doing a lot of great work now, helping so many kids who really do know a lot about what life on the streets is like, but know that they also need to get out.
By the time I'd gotten off work tonight, I still hadn't shot my personal portrait project for the day yet. The sun sets around 4:45 this far north, so I've lost all usable daylight well before I'm finished for my work day. If I haven't gotten my portrait by that time, something internally starts to panic. I was so busy at work that I didn't have the time to pull a client outside to take a photo. I've shot photos of all my co-workers by now as well. With 44 days left in the year, I'm starting to run thin on subjects, so I set out to wander after I left work. If you've seen me this year, chances are, I'm carrying around my camera. Lately, I've challenged myself with only shooting on a 1960's Hasselblad 80mm lens, which I can only manually focus. As I walked, beginning to get discouraged, a homeless guy hollered at me "Hey! I want to take your picture!" I looked at him, realizing that I hadn't found my portrait for the day, but instead, it had found me. As I looked back into his kind eyes, I said "I'll trade you. You take my picture, if I can take yours?" It's probably not the best idea to hand over a $3k camera, but I needed to trust him. As I handed it over to him, he fiddled with it and worked the focus, before snapping a shot. He handed it back to me, proud of the photo and in turn, I snapped this one of him. After looking at it, he asked if I would e-mail it to him, because he said "My Grandma will like this one". This is Mike and as a homeless man in the shivering cold, he exhibited the kind of spirit that I think embodies this project. He was bold, he was funny, and he was another person that has blessed me. If he can find reason to smile when things are tough, we can too. #JG365Project Day 321.
The last I checked, I had a good couple of kids. (⬅️ That's where I allow you all to laugh, because I'm poking fun at myself). I remember my Mom telling me when I was about to be a Dad for the first time, "God won't give you more than you can handle", which for me, has obviously been one kid at a time. Never once did I actually think about what life would be like if I had twins. Well, it wasn't my reality, but it is for Kirstie, pictured here. She's a month away from being a new Mom, to a brand new baby girl...and boy! She and her husband received the news and began preparation for a major new transition in their lives. Her husband is an identical twin, but it's the fraternal side of dual-children that is actually hereditary. I hadn't set out today to shoot photos of Kirstie, but I'm really grateful that it turned out this way. I'm not sure if she's had any pregnancy photos taken of her, but since she was so generous in helping me out with this project, she does now. If what my Mom told me long ago is true at all, Kirstie is an incredibly strong woman who will be a wonderful Mother. Since she's having twins, it's probably fitting that today has two 2's as the 322nd day in the Julian Calendar. #JG365Project.
"They can't say no, if you don't ask..." -- This likely applies to many days this year, where I've shot a photo of a person who previously, I'd never met. As the year has gone on, I've gotten better at this, where prior, I froze at the point where I had to actually ask someone to take their photo. Today, I had to cancel a large portion of my day, because of some medical testing that needed to be done, so I hadn't planned on being in the city until much later. As it was, I ended up getting seen early for my tests, which then gave me a whole slew of free hours. As I drove into Seattle, I got an e-mail reminder that a band I like was in town playing tonight. I've cut hair on and off for the band and I figured, why not try to link up w/ some of the guys? I parked near the venue and waited outside, for a few hours, without really having a chance to catch up with any of them. As the darkness began to set in, the singer of one of the openers started skateboarding around outside the venue. I sat and watched for a few minutes, before walking up to him and asking if I could get a shot of him for my project. He seemed to recognize me, but I get that a lot. My years of working w/ various artists has put me near / close to a lot of tours, so the chances are high that we've run into each other before. Regardless, this was my first time actually meeting Chad, who is the vocalist in #Hundredth, an up-and-coming metal band from South Carolina. He was so down to earth and willing to help me out for this project. #JG365Project Day 323
As I crossed the street in downtown this afternoon, I heard: "Hey man, can I bum a cigarette?" directed toward me. I don't know what it is, but for whatever reason, I get asked all the time for cigarettes. Problem is, I don't ever have them. Maybe it's the tattoos, but I hear it a lot. He and I were crossing in the opposite direction and this probably could have been our only interaction, but somehow, I continued a conversation with him. He turned around, crossed in the same direction as me and we chatted for a few minutes. I immediately noticed the tattoo on his forehead, which is what I had asked him about as we crossed paths. He's got the punisher skull tattooed in the center of his forehead and I told him I liked it. I genuinely did. I've got face tattoos and I know the stigma that comes with it. People judge you before they've ever even spoken to you. I have no idea why he chose to put a skull on his forehead, but that isn't for me to question. As he stood next to me, wild, flowing headdress framing his somber eyes, he asked me another question. "Do you have a few dollars that I can have to help feed my daughter?" I rarely ever have cash on me these days, but today, I had $5 in my wallet. I looked at him and said "I do. I've got a few more than that and it'll probably help you faster than it'll help me." As I handed it over to him and he turned to walk away, I asked him "Hey, I think your tattoo really IS awesome. Can I get a quick shot of you and it?" Phillip said "Sure." I had my camera ready, I aimed and I shot. I gave him a quick fist bump and told him to have a great day. He walked back in the direction he was headed and I did the same. He probably got his cigarette a few minutes later, but before that, he got respect, which doesn't always get directed your way when you have a certain look to you. #JG365Project Day 324. We are all equal.
Apparently there's a theme this week that I didn't intend to play into, but in all the little bits of detail that I remember, it's became apparent. The theme? South Carolina. A few days back, I caught up with Chadwick Johnson, vocalist of SC metal band Hundredth. Today? The band is Emery and despite the members having lived in/around Seattle for the past decade, they mostly all hail from the same state...South Carolina. I remember when they first moved to Seattle and began playing shows. I may have caught their first two in the city ever, unbeknownst to me the influence they would play on my musical experience as the years wore on. What I remember first was their incredible energy live. As they've (we've) gotten older, that energy has never wavered. One of the summers I was on Warped Tour, they were on it and it was ALWAYS a good time if the Emery dudes were around. For their 3rd full length, I was enlisted to do hair for their promo photo shoot, and now, I'm on the other end of the creative side. For me, when I've had a chance to shoot photos of these bands for my project, it's not about "oh look, he's got a lot of music friends". It's never been that. The people who I've shot photos of have been really big influences in my life over the years, both as music makers and as friends. They've supported me as a hairstylist and now have the faith to support me as a photographer. That means a lot. Day 325. Josh, Matt, Dave and Toby of Emery. The #JG365Project.
Growing up in the PNW, I'd seen cult classic TV series Twin Peaks so many times, I used to fall asleep to the VHS tapes when I was in high school. When the DVD's came out in the mid-2000's, I bought them immediately. I've seen eaten pie and drank coffee at the "Double R" and photographed the "Great Northern Lodge" enough times that it's easy to forget that they were regular locations in such an iconic show. So, when I recently found out that my girlfriend hadn't ever seen the series, we began watching it each day, a little bit at a time. As darkness sets in earlier and earlier each day and with the early 90's TV series lingering in my head, it's easy to see where the idea for this photograph came from. The pilot episode of the show was so dark and moody, with scenes lit only by the headlight of a motorcycle or the neon exterior of a bar sign. Standing in for day 326 of the #JG365Project is Chris, a friend of mine who is as talented as he is bearded. Some of you locals may know him as the guitarist of Moneta or the bassist of country's Tony Bridges Band. He also lives just down the street and he came up big for this photograph that I'd had envisioned in my head. As he was dually backlit, I used my iPhone to light his face from the front, getting just enough light on him to find my focus point and fire. I hope this shot pays homage to one of my favorite TV shows. Go watch it if you haven't and go see Chris play next Saturday as Moneta headlines the Showbox here in Seattle.
It started with a yearning for a slice of pie. It ended with the consumption of said pie, but not before Mimi and I took a detour into my old stomping grounds for some night time photographs. When I woke up this morning, I had a curious FB message in my inbox, with another photography request that was borderline awesome and completely illegal. As much as I wish I could have shot these photos, I have to think about the risk/reward. After an exchange of messages, I had a few other, completely legal ideas to start formulating. Initially this shot was going to take place somewhere else, but then Mimi got a hankering for pie and I changed the photo location to meet our need for the tasty dessert. Ryan, pictured here, found me because of a referral from our mutual friend Jeff. He plays in a band locally called Confines and we set out to test some photos for their promos that we will shoot sometime in the next month. On such a whim, Ryan was so willing to come out and brave the cold, while I tested out my ideas for their band shoot. Mission accomplished. And we got our pie too. #JG365Project Day 327.
I imagine the scene was the same all across the country as it was in Downtown Seattle tonight. As the chants of "Black lives matter" reverberated through the corridors of our city streets, people of all races, creeds, orientations and backgrounds gathered together in protest of the decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. I'm not one to protest typically, but I do believe in accountability. I don't know all the facts, however, based upon what I have read and what I believe, a continuation of the injustice that happened in August was carried out tonight. After work, I headed directly into downtown to add my body to the numbers of others who were standing in unity for the family of Michael Brown tonight. The system is broken. I honestly don't know how we fix it, but we can't fix it by inciting more violence. I shot this tonight as the crowd shut down one street after another, in peaceful protest, in unison. It wasn't just young people. It wasn't just African-Americans. It wasn't just hooligans, nor hippies. This crowd was as diverse and powerful as I've seen. How do we fix this? "Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference." #JG365Project Day 328.
Why is it that when people see that a relationship ends, they automatically assume the worst? A conversation with this guy this evening got me pondering that exact question. In this case, it isn't a "break up" of a relationship. It's just the end of his time playing music with the group of guys he's played with the last few years. Instead of playing bass for local heroes Reach For The Sky, he's following another passion, which will keep him occupied in another creative realm. There wasn't any juicy drama or feuding amongst members of the band. He's just ready for a new challenge. For as long as I've known him, he's had a creative style and eye, which will help him considerably as he pursues his passions in videography and graphic design. It's not easy to just up and leave a good thing, but in this case it's what he feels the most compelled to do and I admire the pursuit of a passion. I'll miss seeing him on stage but that doesn't mean I won't still see him around. For day 329 of the #JG365project, I caught up with Lorenzo before his final (final) show with Reach For The Sky tonight at Studio 7. Look for great and creative things from this guy in the years to come. He's got an eye and you can't teach that. The rest, you can.
First things first, I am grateful for every single person who has allowed me to shoot them this year for this ongoing daily portrait series. Up until today, I hadn't had someone actually tell me "no". It finally happened and I was pretty disappointed, but my dismay had to be put aside. A few moments after being told "no", I was told that I needed to drive an extra 55 miles to pick up my son for Thanksgiving weekend and I had to be there right away. That meant heading to Ellensburg, where I immediately got the idea for this shot. I've been following this guy on Instagram for over a year now, at first because of a mutual friend, but also because he does some incredibly killer tattoo work. When I was first tattooed at the age of 16, growing up in a small town, I had limited options for where to get inked. That likely played into my smorgasbord of tattoos that adorn my body now, but if I'd have had a quality option to get tattooed when I was growing up, my art might look a lot different. Tony, lives in this small town of about 20k people and works at probably one of the nicest tattoo shops I've ever seen. It's such an inviting atmosphere and if you check him out, you'll see that he's no slouch with the tattoo machine. Literally everything fell into place today in order for me to get this shot of him, in the back alley behind his shop. He was on a break, I had just cruised into town, and we made it happen. He turned my mood around re: this portrait series with just one simple text message response. "I'd love to do this" he said and just like that, we created one of my favorite shots yet. 330 Days into it. Still going strong. #Thankful#JG365Project.
I could type a thousand words or I could type just one: Thankful. #JG365project Day 331. Thanksgiving Edition.
Senior-itis. The Home Stretch. Whatever you want to call it, with a mere 33 days left after today, I'm starting to wear down. I've legitimately run out of options for who I can shoot on a whim and with it being a dreary holiday weekend, my options were even more limited. I reached out to my buddy Sam tonight, who now lives in Portland. He randomly texts me and makes me laugh, so I figured I would text him and tell him he needed to find me someone to shoot a portrait of tonight. I didn't think he'd take it seriously, but he did. And he called me back, singing something nonsensical but in essence "🎶 I don't fail at my job....🎶". With that, he sent me a phone number and I had a subject to shoot. But not until 11pm, which meant shooting while it was beginning to hail. Nick had just gotten off his shift and we set out to achieve something I hadn't tried ever before. A triple-exposure in-camera. It just so happens that Nick follows me on IG, so he already knew about this project, which makes it a little easier to experiment, rather than shoot a super quick shot. His patience and willingness to allow me this artistic endeavor didn't go unnoticed. I love how this project has connected me with people and makes this world seem so much smaller. As a side note, his new band Strngr Thngs just released an incredibly catchy electronic tinged pop-rock song today, called "The Party is Over" and you can hear his dreamy voice all over that track if you find it on soundcloud. I'll be playing it on repeat. #JG365projectday 332. (This also will constitute day 3 of 5 for the #BlackandWhiteChallenge)
Around the same time that I opened my (now closed) salon 3.5 years ago, I had two other friends that opened their own small business' too. Ironically, they both came from the same band and after that band had called it a day, they pursued their own passions and made them into a career. One of them has already been featured this year in this project, the other I'm featuring today, fittingly on Small Business Saturday. Running a business is very similar to successfully navigating a relationship. It takes a lot of work, you've got to be good with finances, some days are better than others, but in the end, you do it because you love it. This is Frank and exactly two years ago yesterday, he opened this store front in West Seattle, selling used and vintage guitars. For the year prior, he'd operated solely online, but his business grew and he needed an actual space to work out of that was a face to the public, beyond his internet presence. He just successfully completed his first lease term and has nearly outgrown his current space, which means one thing: things are going well. It's cool to see how supported he is within his neighborhood and community. He's a West Seattle kid who is now a West Seattle business operator. For day 333 of the #JG365Project I got a few moments with Frank, owner of Thunder Road Guitars and former guitar player in On The Last Day. Small Business Saturday shouldn't just be one day. Spend some time and money helping keep local jobs afloat. This is just one of many faces who are grateful for that support.
Three years is a lot of time, but when it's been counted day by day, it's even longer. It equates to 1,095 days. Every day that I've listed represents a day of sobriety for my friend pictured here. The gravity of every sober day means a whole lot more than when you, or your friends decide to take a week off of drinking because you went too hard the weekend before. For as Russell Wilson says "the goal is to go 1-0 this week", in the case of Jeff, here, he can't afford to go 0-1. He has to be perfect, day after day. A milestone is going to sleep and waking up the next morning. I don't mean to dramatize this, but for those of you who have no idea what addiction is, what it means to have a problem with substance abuse, and then subsequently ADMIT that there's a problem, this is truly an accomplishment. Today, marking his 3 year anniversary of being sober, Jeff wanted to take a few photos to show just how far he has come from years ago when he hit rock bottom. I've seen the photos from years ago and being that I live with him, I know just how far he's come. For day 334 of the #JG365Project, I'm proud to have helped my roommate Jeff in his continuing quest to take each day as a brand new (sober) day.
I typically gravitate towards wanting to show more serious expressions in my photographs, but that's not always the case. I think laughs are just as much a window into the soul as they say that eyes are. Maybe it's just me, but finding that perfect photo where someone is mid-laugh is/has been difficult for me. In the case of my portrait today, I put this photo out to a few other people and let their responses come back to me. "I LOVE it!" , "That's so Todd!" , and "This photo is so great" were what I heard back. So, why is it then, that we as people want to shy away from the ones of us smiling? Because when I asked him, he said "I look maniacal", while his client told him what everyone else had been saying. The thing is, is that I see this guy laugh all the time. I work across from him and he owns the salon I work at. He listens while my co-workers and I banter back and forth and we make him laugh. All. Damn. Day. So when I took his photo today for our website and started going through them, I picked this one. In my opinion, it represents him the best. It took a little convincing, because as people, we are our own worst critics, and we don't see ourselves like the rest of the world does. I'm grateful to this guy for giving me the opportunity to work at his salon, so the least I can do is help to make him smile when I'm working. Todd. #JG365Project Day 335.
For every day of this project so far, I've shown only one photo from each set. Without a plan for most of the days, at times I've had only a few photos to choose from and others, I've got multiple shots that never see the light of day. Exactly two hundred and three days ago, I had a bunch of great photos of two guys that I took at a skatepark, but had to pick only one for this project. Of those leftovers, I got some great photos of a guy skating that day but ended up using a photo of his buddy instead. I got his IG handle and we've followed each other ever since. I'm honestly surprised (and grateful) because it's easy to stop following accounts when you only know someone through a minimal interaction. As the year has gone on, I've hoped to get him into this project because I felt like I owed it to him since he so graciously let me shoot photos of him earlier this year. I drove north to meet him today, which is where he lives. He's been in Washington about 10 months, stationed in Everett for the Navy, where he'll be until December of 2018. Born and raised in Kansas City, you'll see the iconic "KC" watermark all over his film photos that he posts on his account. If you follow him, you'll notice references to "Josephine", which is his beloved Canon AE-1 35mm camera, gifted from his grandmother, which he shoots all of his work with. We met up just as he was getting off work and squeezed in some time to shoot before he headed off to the skatepark. We explored a train yard, jumping through the freight cars as the boom of clanking train engines could be heard in the rows of trains around us. This'll go down as one of my favorites from this year. A chance encounter that turned into a really cool shoot 200 days later. #JG365Project Day 336.
I've gotten better at reaching out to people if I want to make something happen in this project. That, and I've just plain had to put it out on Facebook at times, or text a friend and ask for help in finding a subject. Today, was not the case, as my subject found me. A week or so ago, he messaged me and asked if I wanted to meet up after work one evening to shoot and just chat. I did a happy dance, but that's just between all 2k of you and I... he doesn't need to know. We've never met before and it's not often that I get off work and spend 3 hours with anyone, but tonight after an hour of sipping coffee, we wandered the streets of Cap Hill, experimenting with light, ambiance, and a few tricks that I have up my sleeve to create something unique in this portrait series. Casey is another photo geek, who just as much as me, has this passion for creating and experimenting. I don't know how many other lines of work outside of the creative fields, where you can get together and talk tricks of the trade for hours on end, and not get tired of it. That's the beauty of being creative. We all have our own methods, ideas (Casey is full of them!), and means to creating our own art. I challenged him to create 5 days of Black and White images last week and he more than met the challenge, mentioning his apprehension with it prior, but knocking it out of the park after all was said and done. Within this tiny little app on our phones, there is a wealth of creativity, knowledge, and passionate people. This is one of them. Casey, #JG365Project Day 337.
It's been awhile since I've shot for my buddy Donte Peace, but tonight, he's got a show at Barboza with a few other local hip-hop up and comers. I wanted to run up and catch sound check so I could snap a few shots for him to put out on his social media, but while I was up there, I caught up with Joey Ka$h as he stepped onto the stage to get the sound right for the show. This exact shot is something that I've wanted to do this year, but it was only right for a hip hop artist. As I walked into the venue, the first thing that struck me was the symmetry of the room. An empty room for soundcheck, save for the performers, gave me the perfect chance to grab this frame. I moved the mic to center it under the leading line of the ceiling and placed Joey right in front of it. I threw my 35mm on my Nikon and stepped onto the stage right in front of him, eye to eye. For me, this shot was raw. I wanted that. I didn't direct Joey other than to place him where I wanted him and the way his eyes caught the camera just slays. It's honest. It's raw. It captures the stage and the DJ booth, but it's his eyes that make this. All I need is one mic... One shot. Joey Kash. #JG365Project Day 338.
I owe this one to my girlfriend, because without her, this shot doesn't happen. I had to make the 4 hour round trip to pick up my son today, but because of potentially snowy conditions over the mountain pass, I gave myself more than enough time to make the drive. This "safety first" mentality also took the better part of my day, thus making my potential of shooting my daily portrait slimmer and slimmer... As I left Ellensburg to drive the 2 hours back to Seattle, I sent her a text message and ultimately asked for her assistance. She began texting friends and as I got back into the city, she gave me the heads up that one of her friends was in. As I look back on this project, I realize that I haven't included a ton of women, which is primarily because I don't hang out with many and my network is so male dominated. I'm really grateful that Maddie came out to meet up with Mimi, Christian and I. The challenge with night time portraits, is obviously the lack of light, so thankfully I had a flash set up on a light stand to bounce onto her to give her a bit of clarity. My girlfriend has known Maddie since the second grade, so after we shot this, I gave her my debit card and told her to go get some wine and have a girls night. Christian and I got some hot chocolate and posted up with some Minecraft. And with that, day 339 of the #JG365Projectis in the books. Twenty six left.
There hasn't been a single point in this project where I have ever wanted this to stray from it's original purpose. Three hundred and forty days ago, just past midnight, I had a conversation with a homeless man who may have changed my life. He was day 1. There was something special in our interaction. Something hopeful. Different than the typical small talk, or negative drivel that permeates our airwaves on a daily basis. Not that every single subject was going to recreate that interaction each day, but the purpose and the intent was to truly live AND give myself in a way that was helpful. As the year has gone on, I've come across so many inspiring people, talking with and telling stories with many, while sharing it with all of you. So, last week, I noticed an account that I follow posting a few beautiful photos, but alluding to some general "life" issues that were depressing her. I took a moment to write her and just let her know that if there was anything my girlfriend or I could do, to let us know. If this Instagram thing really IS a community like so many people claim it is, then who am I, if I blindly turn away if someone is expressing themselves vulnerably? My project is and has been all about that. This morning, my girlfriend reached out to her and asked her to come along on an adventure with us, and in the process, we talked about how it's ok to be strong AND vulnerable when approaching challenges in life. I have no idea if reaching out and being present was helpful, but if it was, then awesome. We all had a fun day regardless and maybe that's what was needed more than anything. For day 340, I shot Selena as we trekked through the rain and fog for a much needed outdoor day. It's easy to forget that there's a big plan for all of us while we are in our daily life, but getting outside helps to put our faith back on track. #JG365Project.
First things first, respect. Active duty, Military, about to make Major. If you're going to donate your life, your time, and your career to your country, we all owe this man a debt of gratitude. I had the chance to meet up with this guy today, an old friend of my girlfriend, on the last day of his weekend visiting Seattle. A North Carolina native, he's seen the world through his travels in the Service, having lived in the Northwest last in 2008. Currently, he's stationed just outside of Detroit, MI but spent the weekend here to finish up some paperwork for a fairly major purchase he made about a year ago. While in Germany, he was able to order his dream car, a BMW M4, in a color scheme that up until today, he hadn't even seen yet. The local dealership here had that exact color, so he was able to view it and we got to check out his reaction in real time. I have to admit, it was like watching a kid open presents on Christmas morning. If anyone deserves it, it's this guy. Hard work. Determination. And a whole lot of sacrifice. It may sound cheesy, but this guy really made his dreams come true. Mike. #JG365Project Day 341.
I'm the kind of guy who you tell a story to and chances are, I can understand. In my line of work, I hear a lot of stories but I also have lived enough to have created a ton of my own experiences, both good and bad. When my buddy Ryan was getting a haircut a month ago, he mentioned that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby in the spring next year, which I immediately congratulated him on. We talked about what to expect and in the midst of it, he mentioned the difficulties that he faced in talking to his own family about the news. Without too much detail, he just expected that they wouldn't be too accepting of the news, given the situation. I chuckled a little bit to myself, because I thought back to 2003, when I found out about being a Dad myself. I was terrified to tell my parents. Matter of fact, I didn't tell them until about a month before my son was born. Was it the right choice? Who knows. Regardless, I understood the nervousness that Ryan and his girlfriend Stephanie faced in telling his family when they found out. What matters the most is that they're about to be some really great parents and today, we ventured out to take some photos of them and their two dogs, creating some great memories in the process. As apprehensive as I was 11 years ago, everyone came around when Christian was born. I imagine that will be the case when they welcome their own child into this world next year. Congrats you two. Glad I could be a part of this. #JG365Project Day 342
My typical route to work after I get off the bus is one that I rarely ever break from. I'm a creature of habit, but today, as I exited the bus in downtown, I took a different street. After rounding the corner of 5th Avenue onto Pine St., I saw a commotion outside of Nordstrom. Lined in front of the store were lots of local celebs, each stationed in front of a Salvation Army donation basket. Within a moment, I saw Blitz, the @Seahawks mascot and I knew there were Seahawks nearby. I don't care if you can't stand sports or if you're a fanatic like I am. When you're in a position of influence, using that for charity, for good, I can only say thank you. Emphatically. The line to greet Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin was fairly long and I figured "what the heck! I'll wait in it!" It may be the holiday season, but this isn't the only time you'll see these guys out in the community doing work beyond the football field. The NFL has seen some really negative stories this year, but as the theme of this project goes, I am really grateful to include these two as a positive story and one that isn't publicized or seen in the media. Jermaine is a local, having gone to UW and high school in Tacoma. Doug is a Stanford grad and one of the most introspective men in the NFL, who has really embraced his role in Seattle as an ambassador on and off the field. For day 343 of the #JG365Project, I am so proud to present these two. Men of integrity AND Super Bowl Champions. #GOHawks #12s4Good
January 7th, 2014. A little girl showed up in my project, hooked up to tubes and it was at that point where I began to feel that these daily portraits could help in ways that I didn't even realize. Almost a year later and that little girl is doing great. I still think about what an honest miracle that whole story is. Her parents have been up to their neck in medical bills this year because of all the attention that she had to
receive and her mom Jaime has been tirelessly taking care of the baby and her two older children as well. Her husband works and helps to take care of the family and I am proud to call them friends. When I woke up this morning, after an incredibly unsettling dream, I scanned IG and came across a quote that Jaime had posted. It led me to a website where she had very humbly stated a goal of hers that she wants to achieve. As I read her story, it really moved me. Here she was, taking a leap of faith and asking for help. I know how difficult that is. Only a week ago, I had to ask for financial help too, just so I could pay my ex. It's somewhat humiliating, but it was my last resort. Her request is for something so much bigger than our own day to day lives. She's got a goal of attending massage school and helping single mothers, by offering free massage work. I urge you to read her story. The link to her site is in my bio for the next 24 hours. I dug through my change jar and donated $6 dollars this morning. That's all she's asking for. It's a latte that you don't drink tomorrow. I know a whole slew of you who could help. For day 344 of the #JG365Project, I'm really proud to help share Jaime's story in hopes that in just the smallest way, it can help her realize her dream. I believe in her.
For the sixth year in a row, I've made the trip across the state for this one special night in December. Without knowing what weather could be like and with how quickly it changes, I take the day off and drive as early as I can across the pass. I made it early and edited photos at a coffee shop, before meeting up with the intended purpose of the trip. My 11 year old is performing in his final school concert in elementary school. I picked him up and we decided upon heading to our special park to go throw the football around. It's special, because after his first day of school 6 short years ago, I took him to this park and "interviewed" him, much like my own dad had done. He answered questions about kindergarten, his friends and from that point, it's been our favorite park. As we threw the ball around, I noticed a couple taking photos a distance away. Having not gotten my portrait today, after they finished, I asked them. They were both willing and as we spoke, I asked what they were photographing specifically. Alex was in the process of taking photos of Angelica's engagement ring, which couldn't have been more perfect. I love how for years, this has been mine and Christian's special park, and here we were, capturing a couple who also had a special tie to this same place. 345 days into this thing and it's still genuine. There's something that moves me about this every single day. To say I'm blessed with these interactions is an understatement. Thank you Alex and Angelica and may your upcoming marriage be something just as blessed. #JG365Project.
I received a direct message here on Instagram the other day from an account that had just started following me. In it, the sender had asked about meeting up with me to talk about my career as a hairstylist. He was eager and excited, but he mentioned living on the other side of the state as me, so when he came to Seattle next, he wanted to meet up. It must have been his lucky day, because as I received the message, I was in Yakima, which is where he lives. We set up time to get together and chat and after he was out of school, he, Christian and I got together and had some coffee, while he picked my brain about my career in the hair industry. Our stories were eerily similar. He's in high school, been cutting hair since he was 12, and is contemplating attending beauty school through a Running Start program next year. (I did all of those things myself while in high school). It was really cool to sit and have a mentor session with someone who is so excited about their career which hasn't even started yet. I've worked with a lot of high schoolers this year and throughout my career and he really has a solid head on his shoulders. I expect to see great things from him in the future. For day 346 of the #JG365Project, I present another eerily similar coincidence between he and I... his name is Jake too.
For as many of these as I've written, typically the words come easier than the photographs do. It's not to say that I struggled to find the words for this post today, but I wanted more than anything to do him justice with it. He and I met while we were in High School. Initially through basketball, but before long we both realized that we were the only two kids in school who really got down to cutting some hair. By the time he was finished with HS, he had moved to Tacoma to begin barbering school. Wasting no time after he got licensed, he was back in Yakima and had his own barbershop, which quickly became THE place to get your hair cut. He married a girl from my graduating class and they've got 3 kids of their own now. Sounds like the American Dream, right? Well, that's not all. For as dynamic of an individual as he is, his true calling wasn't behind a barber chair. It was behind a pulpit. Now, this isn't the part where you should tune out. Hear me through. This guy has a story. And not only does he have a story, but he's actively trying to hear yours. Micahn has dedicated his life to "fighting for those who can't fight for themselves". He created an environment in the 'hood, which now doesn't just attract gangsters, but doctors and politicians and grandparents, atheists and everyone in between. As we spoke today, his words gave me chills. This is a guy who wasn't supposed to be behind a pulpit. But now that he is, it's incredibly apparent why. 347 days. 347 stories. His is one of the most powerful I've had the chance to tell. Micahn Carter, pastor of Morningstar Church in Yakima, WA. #JG365Project.
Peace. That's what Christian and I both agreed upon when I asked him what he liked about spending weekends in Yakima. "It's peaceful Dad", he answered, as I marveled at the wisdom of my 11 year old. It's true though. Everything is slower here. And for my entire working career, I've operated at 110 miles per hour. With each trip over the mountains, I have a harder and harder time returning back to the city. Today, I absolutely did not want to return, except for missing my girlfriend. There is so much in life that we can't control. Our own personal peace is one of the things that I believe we can though. Two years ago this month, I was hurdling full speed towards a self destruction that would shake me to my core. I'd set in place events that would ruin my marriage. The following month, I would find out that I had cancer. After all was said and done, and the dust from 2013 had settled, my entire life had changed. I chose to find peace instead of being pissed. Ultimately, I ruined my life. No one else did. So as I sat outside last night, armed with a tripod and my d800, watching a meteor shower that could only be described as heavenly, all I could think of was peace. I got the idea for this shot as my buddy Jake stood above Tierney with a flashlight, while I found my focus. I told him to circle her with the flashlight above her head and I pressed the shutter and let it stay open for 15 seconds. As it opened and subsequently closed, she sat in perfect peace. Still, like the seas before a storm, watching the stars as she became day 348 of the #JG365Project.
Where I go, my camera goes. I do this, because most of these days, I have no idea what I'm going to shoot. If I have it, I can shoot. If I don't and I end up missing out on shooting someone, this project genuinely lacks the spontaneity that it began upon. After a conversation with a client today about an in-law with cancer, followed by an article I read about the basketball player Lauren Hill (battling cancer), I ate my lunch thinking a lot about how blessed we are to be given each and every day. For me, this project has opened me up to interactions with people that I may never have interacted with if it weren't for the meaning behind this daily, ongoing story. As I wandered on my lunch break today, camera in hand, I popped into a vintage store just up the street from my work to kill some time. While I browsed, the owner asked me what I was shooting. "Eh, well, I've been working on this project..." and I after I spoke about it, he told me a story. 'In the 60's, I did a portrait project myself. Not exactly a daily one, but on a West Coast road trip, I shot a portrait of every person who picked me up along the way.' As other customers came in, I went back to browsing and he took a phone call. I looked around and I realized that he needed to be day 349. This is why I bring my camera everywhere I go. Some of these photos are artistically intriguing, while others are basic and I find a place in the exact spot the interaction occurs. Today, when I asked him if he would be my portrait today, and he responded "Really?? I'd love to!", I couldn't help but harken back to my thoughts at lunch. Each and every day is a blessing. When we open ourselves up to allowing others to to share their story, we gain something with every spoken word. This is Billy, owner of a store that has no correlation to the photo that I posted earlier today, but it's even more fitting. The store is called "No Parking on Pike" and it's another incredible thread to this tale that's being woven every day. #JG365Project.
I was sent an overly excited text message yesterday from my co-worker & friend Jennifer. In it, she emphatically stated that she was going to be working with a local outdoor inspired clothing company based here in Seattle. There probably isn't a more perfect fit than Jennifer, since she spends a great deal of her time outdoors, when she's not getting harassed at work by my buddy Andy and I. In all seriousness though, I knew how excited she was about this opportunity and I extended a congratulatory message back to her. Fast forward about 24 hours to this afternoon and I'm sitting at work in between clients as she pops in the door, saying "You're just who I was looking for!" After a brief convo, explaining that she needed a photo of her wearing one of their shirts, I realized why she needed me. The graphic from the shirt is primarily on the back and for as easy as it is to snap a selfie from the front, a back shot isn't as easy. She told me I could just take a quick iPhone snap of it, but I wanted to at least make it look good. Since we work in the heart of the city, the "outdoors" look wasn't really feasible, for this shot. Since the shirt itself is fairly casual and street inspired, I figured the next best thing would be to capture a shot from the back, showcasing the logo, but also the realism of her just walking through the neighborhood wearing their gear. Lord knows I can use any bit of extra help getting my photos out there, so I have to admit that my incentive for making this shot count was fairly high. It's humbling to know that there are people out there who are interested in helping me succeed with this whole photography thing, so for day 350 of the #JG365Project, I captured Jennifer, mid-stride wearing a shirt from Beyond Clothing, just a block from our work on Capitol Hill.
My bags were packed. I was on the freeway and just about to get out of the city, making the trip back to my hometown to take my life with me and kiss Seattle goodbye for a bit. As traffic got heavy, I stopped on the freeway and I got a message. "You free today to snap brother?" It was my buddy Donte and in the briefest moment, I replied back. "When and where?" Within 5 minutes, I had turned around and was headed back to meet up with him. Saying goodbye to Seattle would have to wait an hour. I knew what he wanted for these photos and I had been anxious to start working on them. In 20 minutes, I was at the spot in White Center, camera in hand and we were walking alleyways, shooting some really gritty photos. He spoke about wanting these photos to convey the feel of "Right now...people aren't happy right now. People are struggling right now!" And let me tell you, I know all about it. I approach everything that I do with passion. I feel some of what he's feeling, even though our backgrounds are different. When you hear Donte rap, what speaks the loudest is that he's passionate about his lyrics. He's always working in the studio and his work has gotten more and more classic with each release. His latest, "Locals Only" is 8 tracks, 4 on side A and 4 on side B. They're the epitome of his two stylistic sides. Heavily influenced by 90's-era west coast Hieroglyphics/Souls of Mischief vibes juxtaposed with the grittier East Coast street style. I spoke yesterday about feeling humbled by the support that people have shown me throughout my foray into photography and this guy is one of those who believes in me the most. For day 351 of the #JG365Project, I captured exactly what I was trying to create in this shoot. I wanted the grittier side of how things feel in America right now, but a hopeful slant on it. Thanks Donte. I'll be looking for big things from you.
I hate goodbyes. I captioned a photo yesterday with that, subtly dropping a hint as I so typically do. I'm the type of person who goes to a party and ducks out so that I can just go silently into the night. I mean, a goodbye seems like forever. I've lost too much in this life already, so when I have to actually say goodbye, it's really hard for me. So with that being said, I dropped the bomb today, announcing that I'm leaving Seattle. I've spent 12 years there. I accomplished more than I ever could have imagined for a kid from a small town that barely passed High School. But with all that has happened in this past 2 years for me, I finally had to accept that I need to regroup and move back home. No shame here though. I'm excited. And I'll still be in Seattle a lot to visit and for photo work. New challenges are on the horizon (see that hint that I dropped in my earlier photo???) and with new challenges comes reinvigorated aspirations. This is how I work. After landing in Yakima last night, I hit the ground running this morning. I made a resume, toured a salon, edited some photos, shipped a print as a gift, and before I knew it, it was almost dark. Crap. This is where my buddy Jake comes in, because in what is now becoming typical fashion, he answered the call. Ray showed up and we promptly went just a few steps past the no trespassing sign to get this photo. The infinity effect in orchards and vineyards is just mesmerizing, coupled with the foggy mood of the day. Ray was shy at first, but we went out for coffee afterwards and I got a chance to chat with him about his work in videography and how you can buy manual focus lenses from old film cameras for $10 bucks. Any chance I can get to pass along my love for vintage lenses... #JG365Project, day 352.
Surrounding the house where my parents live, is hundreds of acres, filled with Central Washington wildlife and habitat, criss crossed with hiking trails leading through canyons and valleys. Having only spent about a year+ in that house while I was in high school, I rarely ever explored the terrain. I've wanted to get up for a hike since being back, but yesterday was too gloomy. Today, after working on some website material and realizing that 4 hours had passed by and my daylight was waning, I drove back to their property. Sunset was quickly approaching, I hadn't shot my portrait and I had legitimately no leads. It was beginning to be one of those "I hate this project kind of days...", but there wasn't anything I was going to be able to do about it. I had to find someone and my chances of it during the daylight hours were going to be gone in 20 minutes. After driving up to their property, I grabbed my camera and hiked into the hills above their house, on the lookout for coyotes as much as I was the sunset itself. 10 minutes passed and I started to walk back to their house, when all of the sudden I heard something about 500 yards behind me. The echoes up here are amazing... I turned around and a person was on the trail, walking two dogs. Without hesitation, I doubled back. As I approached, the dogs ran up to me and he followed. We said hello and as I let the dogs sniff me, I asked him the strangest question he'd heard all month. By now, you know what it was. Snap. Snap. Got it. From there, as the sun went behind the mountain, we talked for 20 more minutes and I now know a lot about Andy and why he moved here from Ohio with his wife in 2004. I kid you not, this project sometimes just floors me. There are 1000's of acres up here and in the exact moment that I needed a person to show up, here came Andy. Day 353. #JG365Project
In 1910, the city of Yakima, WA built a glistening, grandiose train depot, a few miles to the north of the original location of "Yakima City" (as it was known then). Business migrated towards it, the city grew, and the downtown core formed. If not for this train depot, Yakima, as it is known now, might not have been here. For the next 61 years, this building operated as the central stop, for rail lines heading through Central Washington. Building a city around a train station, rather than building the train station into the city was actually incredibly rare. After being decommissioned, the building turned into a restaurant, and just in the last year, this ornate building on North Front Street is now a coffee shop called North Town Coffee. It's where I've done a lot of my work the past few days and where I had an evening meet up with the guy pictured here. He's a barber in town and we had a chance to talk about the industry, experience, and what things are like here in this city now, since I've spent my entire adult life away from it. After chatting for 90 minutes, I figured what better location to snap a photo of him, than outside, on the train tracks that still operate with freight traffic, much like they did over 100 years ago. It's the 354th day of 2014 and for the #JG365Project, today I got Ramiro, another passionate artist who was kind enough to reach out to me on his own to talk shop.
Winter Solstice. Ironic that on the darkest night of the year, I shot some of my latest portraits of the project thus far. If not for a scheduled shoot with this band and a few days of work before Christmas, I may not have found myself back in Seattle. As it was, the trek back over the mountains was made this afternoon, and I gathered my lighting rig to shoot some incredibly moody promo photos for a band that is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the local metal scene. I'd scouted this location with one of the members last month, and tonight I met the rest of the band. Shooting in the dark is challenging for just one person, so when you add in 5 people total, the challenge cranks up even more. In order to get this, the camera is on a tripod. The silhouetting comes from an LED video light in front of them, placed on a light stand. Rather than just silhouette them however, I wanted to add something a little different to the mix. On the way into the shoot, my buddy Jeff and I stopped at the dollar store to pick up some baby powder. For some reason these past few weeks, the Lebron James "chalk toss" has been rolling around in my head. I wanted to work this into some photos, to enhance some of the mood, so we loaded one of the guys up with an incredible amount of baby powder in his hands and I gave the signal to blow. As the wind caught the powder, it enveloped the members and I fired. This shot was completely for my own personal satisfaction, so considering that I had just met 4 of the band members, I'm pretty stoked that they allowed me to get them all dusty before we even started shooting their promos. If they use this one, or if they don't, I'll be one of my favorite band photos that I've taken this year, and most likely my last. With only 9 days left in the year, I don't have any other bands on the schedule, so for Day 355, and the first day of winter, I present the dudes in Confines. #JG365Project.
I'm gonna let you all in on a little secret of mine. With every one of these days being filled with a portrait and a post, I've had to figure out ways to give myself "days off". The way I do this, is if I'm shooting late at night, I can set up a shot to fall right at the turn of midnight. As the calendar turns, so does my project. For whatever reason, when I've been able to give myself this much needed break, I always find myself working with a band member or someone associated with the band. I guess we're the ones crazy enough to stay up late and shoot in the cold, when no one else will. I've adhered to those rules throughout the project, but each of these midnight shots has been a fun challenge for me. I'll light things different, having used lighters, flashlights, iPhones, off camera flash and in the case of this portrait, my ring flash, stretched to the far right of the camera, to create shadows in this shot. This was taken on a fishing pier along the Puget Sound, with a shipping vessel in the harbor casting that reflection behind him. As we shot, fishermen meandered up to us, interested in what we were shooting. I used to ride my bike past this pier and I'd see the men out late, casting their lines into the ocean, hoping to bring back a catch. I'm glad we were able to provide a little entertainment for these guys, different than the typical night along the water. 356 days into this and I let my secret out. A late night shoot can make it so that I don't have to stress on finding a subject for at least 24 hours. This is Carson, vocalist of Confines. #JG365Project.
As the year comes to a close, it's natural to reflect on the highlights and moments that happened over the course of the last 12 months. For me, as not only this project wraps up, but also my time living permanently in Seattle, I have a lot to think back upon. I have spent every single moment of my twenties and thirties in this city. My son was raised here, my daughter was born here. I had a business on the water and I used to walk these streets to find inspiration or to just spend time reflecting. I somehow developed cancer here and beat it. Got married and divorced within these city limits. Saw some of the greatest moments a football team could ever muster on the playing field and watched some of the worst baseball a professional team has ever played. Joys and triumphs. Agony and defeat. But that's life, isn't it? If it were all filled with highs, they wouldn't seem that great anymore. We have to experience it all in order for the best times to truly resonate. So, with those thoughts in mind, I took a photo tonight of Kim, with a whole lot of reflection in the photograph. In some way, I couldn't control that reflection, no matter what I did. And after all was said and done, it's a perfect metaphor for life itself. I love this photo, even though I couldn't control every aspect of the way the reflected light showed up in the frame. I have to be ok with it, because perfection isn't possible. We just have to do the best we can. And with that, I'm gone. Goodbye for now Seattle. I'm on my way home. #JG365Project. Day 357.
I'm not an only child, but for a large part of my childhood, I was. It wasn't until I was just entering middle school that I finally became a "big brother". I learned how to change diapers as a teenager, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was great practice for when I became a dad only a decade later. By the time I was finished with middle school, I had two brothers and would be well versed in toddler interactions, but still had no clue what it was really like to have siblings in the traditional sense. We didn't really grow up together, because of the age difference. I left for college immediately after graduation and never lived in my hometown again. Their growing up years were happening while I was a new dad, so for the most part, I've felt like an uncle than a brother. Well, they're not so little anymore, with both of them in their 20's and living in Arizona full time. One is on his way to medical school, while the other is finishing up his 4-year degree and displaying his natural ability as a golfer for his school's team. It's Christmas Eve today, and despite the fact that I could care less about the gifts and Santa aspect of the holiday season, I am very appreciative of having this time to spend it with family. It's 358 days into 2014 and this is the first one where both me and my 2 brothers are in the same place together. Here is Nick and Eric, graciously obliging my request to snap a photo of them for the #JG365Project.
Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate it in the religious sense, it should still be a special day. At the heart of any major holiday is family and friends. After a lazy day spent eating and opening gifts, my Aunt and Uncle came over and brought with them their 4 kids. At dinner, we talked about what it was like growing up for them (my mom and uncle) at their family gatherings. They didn't have many cousins close in age, which was a similar feeling for me. My first actual cousin wasn't born until I was 13. And then, one by one for the next decade, I gained new cousins. Much like my brothers, I always felt like an uncle, because the age gap was so large. It doesn't matter though, because no matter how I felt, an uncle or a cousin is still family and it's awesome to spend some time with these guys for a few days, since it's only once a year that I get a chance to do that. Before I knew it, the day was past, and I was left with a full stomach and little light to work with. Going with the theme of the day, I wanted to use candles to light Andy for this portrait, creating something really soft (I used a tilt-shift lens for this photo) and peaceful. Andy is currently in high school in East Wenatchee and an extreme sports enthusiast. He reminds me of myself at that age, but even more fearless. You couldn't get a nicer family and a more well rounded group of kids than he and his 3 sisters. So, for day 359 of the #JG365Project, I'm proud to present another member of my family, my cousin Andy. I hope you've all enjoyed your Christmas, no matter how you choose to celebrate it or who you choose to spend it with. Gifts don't really matter that much, but people do. Don't forget that.
If I could boil this 365 day portrait series down to a few key elements, it would include family, people who inspire me, friends over the years, and people who I've only just met. Today included a healthy dose of all of those elements, so much that I actually had a hard time choosing any one photo that stuck out more importantly than any others today. As I sorted through them, I realized that there was no right or wrong choice. This morning, I had a chance to sit in with a family who are some really old friends of mine. When I transferred schools in Jr. High, I didn't know many people. My friends came through sports mostly and pretty soon I befriended a guy who I played basketball with. As our high school years went on, his family became really important to me and accepting of who I was. I always had some troubles, but they never treated me like I did. They just accepted me, took me under their wing, and helped me along, seeing to it that I graduated and had opportunities to succeed along the way. I've featured some of the family throughout this project, but today, as I shot photos of the 5 kids, their spouses, the 8 grandchildren and the parents, I looked at Grace and said "You should be really proud. You did good." I wanted to showcase Grace and some of her grandkids today, (Nate, Luke and Gracie) because she may not know it, but she really did have an impact on my life. This was an adult who didn't give up on me. She never judged me based upon how I looked or what I did. To say I was proud to come spend some time with their whole family is an understatement. It was an absolute highlight of mine and it epitomizes what this project is about. Thank you to the entire Schefter family. #Jg365Project. Day 360.
Around the time my marriage was ending, in 2013, I had some really hard lessons to learn. Of those, I had to swallow a lot of pride and accept that I had made some serious mistakes. As I navigated the unsure waters ahead of me, I began the process of healing. This happened through numerous counseling sessions, Sundays at church, photography, and ultimately, writing about my experiences. I realized that my previously held thought that "counseling was only for the weak" was totally untrue. I couldn't have been further from the truth. Counseling may be for the vulnerable, but the vulnerable are NOT weak. As I embraced my own vulnerability and sought refuge in friends and creative endeavors, I found more solace with each passing day. It's been almost 2 years since those depressing days that spawned the person who I've been working on becoming. Through it, many of you have followed along, watching as I tell stories about my own life, or others lives in this series. I'm beginning to feel the gravity of this as it comes increasingly close to the end. Today, a friend asked what my plan was next, as if I had a follow up at the ready. (I don't...yet). And finally, I had Joshua, who travelled in his car from Boise, ID to hang out and talk about what this has meant to him. The one thing that he said that stuck out to me, was when he talked about vulnerability. And maybe, more than anything, I hope that my transparency in this has shown some of you that it's quite ok to be vulnerable. I think, as humans, our greatest fears are being weak, or being perceived as that. But let me tell you, as a 6'4", tattooed, overweight man, I am not afraid to say that I am weak. I'm vulnerable. I've made a lot of mistakes and I'm only now finding out who I am, and I'm almost 34 years old. I'll continue to have a long ways to go, well past the expiration date of this project. When we feel vulnerable and weak, sometimes that's when the best comes out. We break down walls that way. We let others in. We allow assistance, rather than relying on our selves. WE are weak. I don't want to stand on my own all the time. And that's why it's ok to be vulnerable. Day 361 #JG365project