Without fail, for the last few years in January, I’m brought to, or through Portland for work. Every time, in the first week of the new year. I always try to get in touch with my buddy James to meet for a quick coffee on my “there and back” trip for the day. Last year, we met while he was working and we talked about some major upcoming life changes that he, his wife and son were to be embarking upon within 6 months time. By mid-year, I’d not heard anything further about it and as the end of the year crept closer, he made mention of completing his schooling, while also taking a job at a local audio company. The job was what caught my interest most, because it was completely different than what we’d talked about during our January conversation. The major life change that he’d been working towards (job related, not band related) didn’t pan out as expected. He had to go back to the drawing board, spending the better part of the year pursuing, interviewing, listening and praying about new leads. For years, he’s been using 64 Audio for his in-ear monitors while performing with his band Kutless. In a bit of divine intervention, the company contacted him about working for them, ultimately creating a position as a salesperson for a part of the music industry that he already knew incredibly well. For all the preparation and planning towards a significant change that he and his family had been readying themselves for, only for it all to fall through, this new job opportunity kept them local, right where their home base has been for so long. While still a change from what he’d expected, it was the exact right amount of change. A new job, in the same place. Some things change, others don’t. Hopefully one of those things that doesn’t change is another January meet up with James in 2020. #TheChangeOperation Day 8.
At first glance, it all blends together. The modern glass structures neighboring the exposed brick counterparts of years past. If you’ve never visited Seattle before, you might have the impression of an ultra modern city, funded by tech related millions. A futuristic and progressive utopia huddled under rain clouds. Or, you may still hold to the idea that the land of the grey is an old(ish) city, perpetuated with monuments from the mid 20th century, such as an antiquated monorail or The Space Needle. Either is actually true and if you’ve been here, you’d probably have seen elements of both the old and new. Having lived here for going on 18 years now, I’m constantly amazed at how quickly this city is changing. For years, the tech hubs were outside of city limits, leaving a lot of the old historic buildings untouched in their downtown area locales. Now, everywhere you look is a construction crane and a glass facade adjacent to a stone side. I’ve had to adapt to the ever changing growth of the city as Amazon took residence directly inside the downtown core, changing forever the look, feel and population of Seattle. Some of the change is incredibly welcome. I think the building additions are really quite beautiful. That being said, soaring rent prices, traffic that rivals the worst in the country, and a shifting in the identity of the city are all things I could do without. (Mostly rent hikes). What’re your thoughts? Do you think growth and change for a city like this is a good thing? Or would you hate for it to happen to yours? #thechangeoperation Day 9.
The way music can be recorded now, versus even just ten years ago is so drastically different. For the better part of the last year, my buddies Austin and Nicholas (along with the other members of their band) have been holed up in their own studio, tinkering, writing, recording and reworking songs that will become their first official release. I brought up the recording process, because as they played me a few new songs, I made what could have been a pretty awkward comment. I noticed dual vocal harmonies in an epic chorus and I asked “is that a female vocal under yours, Austin?” His answer? “No, that’s me. It’s an all falsetto vocal line under my lead”. I thought to myself, jeez, the fact that his vocal can be tweaked just enough to make it sound as if it’s someone entirely different doing the harmony is just nuts. Then, the fact that they can record everything themselves as they demo songs, without having to have anything crazy for a studio space is also bonkers. You used to absolutely have to record inside big time studios, setting aside week/months for a recording session. Now, these guys just show up in their rehearsal space, which doubles as a studio and they get to work on songs. For as long as I’ve known these guys, one thing that definitely hasn’t changed is their work ethic. They are literally always working on their songs, recording or touring. I can’t wait until they get a chance to put their new stuff out there into the world. #TheChangeOperation Day 10.
A number of years ago, I stood in this spot and set up my tripod and camera in broad daylight, readying for a long exposure during the daytime. I did a small series of photos like this, with the long exposure essentially erasing any moving objects through the frame. In this case, the moving traffic essentially ghosted from the photo. The idea behind it, was in all of these high traffic areas, during rush hour, I wanted the locations to look almost dystopian. Where there SHOULD be tons of traffic, magically there wasn’t. So yesterday, as I took in the view of the Alaskan Way Viaduct one final time with traffic on it, I kinda laughed to myself, because what I aimed for in that long exposure years ago, is officially happening now. The highway through downtown Seattle is closed for good. No cars will ever zip through with the view of the Puget Sound, waterfront, Olympic mountains, and skyline ever again. The demolition of the eye sore highway happens later this year, leaving some nostalgic for the iconic views it provided and others glad to see the ugly concrete structure gone, replaced instead with unobstructed views for pedestrians on the streets below. If you’re a native Seattleite, what are your thoughts on the teardown and ensuing traffic nightmares? How are you planning on changing your commute because of this? #TheChangeOperation Day 11.
I’ve lived in Seattle for quite a long time. I first moved to a Seattle suburb in 2002, before moving up to the city in 2003. Besides a year and a half long stint back in my hometown while I attempted to get my feet under me as I switched careers to photography, it’s been almost two decades in the Emerald City. I’ve wanted to move many times, most recently now, for a variety of different reasons. Opportunities, lower cost of living, closer to my son/daughter, etc. The one main reason I have never really left Seattle, is that my son is an hour and a half away and the proximity to him has been the most concrete foundation in my life. But I still want to move out of Seattle, which is perhaps why travel has been such an important part of my career. It allows me to see other places, capture scenes, and still come back to a city that despite it all, I love. For Ben (in the center), he faced a decision a few years back that required a fairly big change of scenery. Going from the Pacific Northwest, to the sprawling region of LA is something that many people do, for one reason or another. When I asked him exactly what the reason behind the move was, he gave me an answer that I instantly had to admire. “I was forcing myself to be surrounded by people who were better than me (at drums) and doing exactly what I wanted to do…drumming full time.” It wasn’t the typical “chasing the big city lights” type of answer. Rather, he saw what he wanted, recognized the change that needed to be made and made the move to pursue his goals in a manner that WOULD be the change he wanted to see. As much as Seattle is thought of a musical city (and it is, don’t get me wrong), there’s other cities where the opportunities are greater, even if the competition is as well. Not too long after the move, he was hired for a session, being produced by Kenny Carkeet (left) formerly of AWOL Nation. Kenny had another project he was working on dubbed Fitness, with Max (right) from Eve 6 and they needed a drummer to fill out the sound for their recordings and live show. One thing obviously beget another and Ben was drumming for Fitness. When Max’s drummer from Eve 6 left, Ben again found himself in exactly the right place and time. Eve 6 just completed a 20 year anniversary tour and now Fitness is touring the U.S. and Canada in support of their latest record “Karate”. In just a few short years since the move, Ben has ultimately become what he intended to and is still pushing on the gas pedal for more. I love how he knew what he wanted, went ahead with the change and has since seen goals met. This, to me in inspiring. How about you? #TheChangeOperation Day 12.
Back in the day, when I owned a salon, I used to come in every morning, open the shop, and let my jazz/blues/soul playlist echo from the speakers as I’d take my first few clients. If it were just me working on any given day, I’d just let it play all day. For as much as I love modern music, there’s just something about the throwbacks. Back when music was made for the feeling, not just based on an algorithm of pop machinery. For all of the change that music of today has brought, there isn’t much that beats hearing the classics. Which is where Quinn DeVeaux comes in. I met Quinn last night, before his set in Seattle, having spent the better part of my day listening to his music that pays direct homage to the greats of days past. Music has evolved so much in the last 40-50 years, but it’s nice to see that not everything has to. The beauty in his music begins at first listen to his soul filled tenor voice and from there, you’re transported to a time when things seemed much simpler. Rather than doing something tricky with the photos or playing with the light sources, I wanted all of these images to evoke the same kind of visual stimulation you’d get by looking at the old album covers from that bygone Blues era of music. Proving, if only to myself, that some things don’t have to change at all, besides the faces behind the music and images themselves. #TheChangeOperation Day 13.
I’m seeing the “10 year challenge” going around my feed in the last week or so, which had me thinking in correlation to the conversation that I had with LA based rock band The Gutter Daisies, yesterday. After meeting up and grabbing some photos for this project (thanks dudes), we went and had a quick drink and talked for a bit about touring now, what the “scene” was like 10-15 years ago, and how things have changed in necessary ways. A decade + ago, there wasn’t the need for daily documentation of our lives, as there is now. Touring bands would promote their shows on message boards, or Myspace, and if the label had the budget for it, in the pages of music magazines. Now, there are apps for touring, both for the bands and for the fans. Instagram is a daily part of the process, with bands needing show photos from the day before and live videos for their story. In the age of digital over-stimulation, it’s a necessary part of the process for bands to maintain their standing in a sea full of fish, all trying to eat. If a band can afford it, they take out a photographer, or someone young who doesn’t have the bills to have to pay like some of us older people do. For those bands that don’t have a photographer or can’t have one, they rely on local photographers to get the content they need to keep the social media engine running. This is why I reach out so often to touring bands that I dig, because I know they need content. I also genuinely enjoy being around other creatives who are hustling on a day to day basis to get their art out to the world. Ten + years ago, what I do didn’t have as much of a market, unless you were a massive band. Now, as the times have changed, photo and video has become as integral to a bands crew, as a tech or merch person. Glad I could meet up with these 3 wonderful humans and help to get them some images they need, if only for a day. #TheChangeOperation Day 14.