2019. A brand new year. One year ago at exactly this time, I was sending my son back to Arizona to start the second semester of his 8th grade year. His Mom had decided to move to a rural town, 3 hours outside of Phoenix, right before he started 8th grade. Prior to that, he’d spent his entire life in Washington, going to the same school, visiting me in Seattle on the weekends and during the Summer, while spending his weeks in Ellensburg. The move, to put it mildly, was a major adjustment for both him and I. I had to fly down to Arizona to visit him once a month, with every other month being his turn to visit back in Washington. His grades suffered at first, while his desire to come back home was his priority. After realizing that tanking his grades was not the way to come back, he made the necessary changes and got them back up, before finishing out his year. A few weeks into his Summer break in Seattle, his mom decided to move back, which ultimately has given him the outcome he desired, while still teaching some valuable lessons in the process. An entire year in the long run isn’t that long, but at the time, it felt like an eternity for all of us. As I sent him back to his Mom this year, concluding his Christmas break, at the same airport I’d watched him fly out of last year, one big thing had changed. I only had to put him on a bus, for a 2 hour trip back, rather than a 3 hour plane ride halfway across the country. In missing his weekly presence last year, it’s only made me more grateful for the proximity I have again with him this year. #TheChangeOperation Day 1.
January 2nd, 2019. As simple as this may seem, it’s a question that I ask myself every year as the calendar changes. “Do I really HAVE to take down the Christmas lights?” Yeah, I understand the tree needs to come down. Stockings too. I get that the multi-colored, flashing, icicle styled lights definitely need to go. But there’s something about the warmth of the white lights that always makes me feel comfortable. Soothing, in similarity to a candle, but without the fragrance or the possibility of burning your house down because you fell asleep with it still burning. It’s a change that I wish didn’t have to be made and possibly why each year, they come down begrudgingly. Even in beauty school, I found a way to string up some lights for an extended period of time. If you ever visited my salon, Mars Hair, you may even remember the display case had a string of white lights. For a brief stretch while I was homeless, I had to live out of my salon and I kept those lights on at night, simply for the peace that they provided me, while I slept in the same place that I worked at. It’s with this thought, that I took a photo of the lights in the apartment, blurred to a peaceful and calming effect, similar to what I’d see I’d doze off to sleep back in the days when the lights stayed up all year.
Only a few moments after meeting Ayo Dot, prior to his performance at the Tractor in Seattle, he cracked a joke. One of my favorite things about working around musicians as often as I do, is that quite quickly, you develop a camaraderie with the artists. Enough, that laughs are had with near immediacy, as if you’d known these people for much longer than you likely have. His joke, revolved around how much “gear” he had to set up (a microphone with a few batteries), while the rest of the band actually had boat load of gear to haul onto the stage. It was very obviously a joke, not an ounce of disrespect intended, or received. We carried on with that joke as a theme throughout the evening, at one point I even asked if he needed me to pull the batteries out of the mic for him, being that it was such a “labor intensive” job and I didn’t want him to get too tired out before the set itself. So, when I asked him what one of the biggest instances of “change” was for him, it all tied together in his response.
“ (It) has to be switching from a solo artist many years ago to learning to work with a band. It’s such a big change. Takes a lot of patience and learning to listen. You have to put your ego or personal biases aside when working with different personality types. I thought a lot about myself and the importance of communication and flexibility when trying to attain a common goal.”
I find that to be so true. What I’ve done throughout my own career has mostly been in environments where you’re your own boss. When I cut hair and now as a photographer, most of what I do, has always been without a team environment. Even in working with other people, the end result of most of my editing is still my own vision. Having to collaborate in an end result is something I’m still working on being better at. The communication he mentions is so imperative as well as the need to not take feedback personally. I think there are benefits to going solo as well as integrating others into the flow, but he hits the nail on the head in his thought provoking response to my question.
Imagine, for a moment if you will, reaching the absolute pinnacle of success early on in your career. It would be easy to rest on those accolades, live off of that success and sit back, counting your riches. You could continue down the same path, a safe bet. Or, you could diversify and branch out, in ways not typically seen. For hip-hop pioneers Nappy Roots, this was their crossroads. If you were a fan of music in the early 2000’s, you undoubtedly have heard their music. They were the highest selling hip-hop group in the world in 2002, unleashing a slew of memorable singles on the airwaves. Achieving this, within the first decade of their inception didn’t come easy, but to the uninitiated, their rise seemed meteoric. From the success of the album “Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz” (which was Grammy Nominated, among a slew of other awards) they continued releasing albums and touring, but over the past few years, the group has taken their love of a good beer and collaborated on creating something entirely different for themselves and their fanbase. Starting their own home brewery, turned into collaborations with a few southern craft breweries, resulting in two limited edition beers which were wildly popular. In 2018, they charged forward, creating two more beers and are now currently touring the US on their “Great American Beer Run Tour”, visiting local Micro-Breweries in each city that they perform. Their music has always been unique and carved a niche in hip-hop that is truly unparalleled, but to take that and create something so vastly different, while finding a way to merge the two is what really impresses. It takes a lot to change from the routine that could easily sustain your career without having to think outside the box. Instead, these dudes have found a way to build upon their brand and find success in something far beyond what initially brought them success. Cheers to that. #TheChangeOperation Day 4.
Safeco Field. Err, excuse me. T-Mobile Park. As of January 1st of this year, the baseball stadium formerly known as Safeco Field underwent a name change, with advertising rights purchased by local Seattle communications giant, T-Mobile. When the name was announced and mock images were posted, I laughingly watched the comments take a turn for a decidedly negative tone. People were up in arms about the change and … God forbid, the magenta color scheme that has become synonymous with T-Mobile. It all made me laugh, because in exactly what way, besides the name and the advertising that will adorn the stadium, does the actual building itself change? Will it make the games less fun to attend? (Answer: No. The Mariners themselves will make the games less fun to attend). I’ve gone to games in Seattle for decades now and I’d go see the team wherever they played at, regardless of the name of the stadium. So, what is it that makes people so upset about such a simple change? It’s not like they HAVE to call it by the new namesake. Call it Safeco Field still. Call it the “new Kingdome”. Who cares? Such a inconsequential change, yet people go nuts over it. What’re your thoughts? Why is it that something like this causes such strong reactions from people? #TheChangeOperation Day 5.
If by chance, you happen to follow Wendy’s on Twitter, you were blessed with an incredible day of rapid fire roasting by the brand, late last week. Anyone and everyone who tweeted at them got a comical response, but it was so on point, because they literally did their research on everyone that they replied to. As I met up with Vancouver, B.C. based pop-punk band Chief State yesterday afternoon, this was brought up in our conversation. We laughed at their quick witted replies, which lit the pop punk/metal scene ablaze, throwing jabs at bands from Silent Planet, Knocked Loose, Norma Jean, Victory Records (this one was hilarious), Atreyu, GWAR, and soooo many more. What got the conversation started, was a particular tweet to State Champs, which read “Just when you thought pop punk was dead and gone someone threw a new coat of paint on New Found to get them on top 40.” I laughed so hard at this, all in good fun of course. It did get me thinking though, which is obviously a huge part of this project. I’ve been involved with this music scene for almost 2 decades now, so I’m totally old enough to remember when New Found Glory was running up the charts and pop punk was dominating the airwaves. Things change obviously and most of those bands from that era are gone now, replaced by new artists who are writing and recording music that they love, inspired by the artists that paved the way for them years ago. It’s easy for me in my daily routine of editing to throw on the old stuff because it’s familiar and I know every word, but there are some incredibly solid bands coming up right now that make music that is equally nostalgic to that era, while also carving their own lane. Chief State might just be one of the best ones I’ve heard in awhile. Their dual EP’s, blend faster paced pop punk with incredibly memorable hooks, with the most recent EP “Nothing More Than This” being the jewel of their recordings. Contained, is 4 songs that will leave your windows down, your lungs shredded, and your volume all the way up. As long as music exits, there will always be a changing of the guard. I’d be stoked if these guys lead the charge. #The Change Operation Day 6.
This daily photo project was inspired by the idea, that at any “New Year”, people prescribe to the ideas of change. They embrace it, maybe more than at any other time of the year. Time to eat right. To cleanse. Time to exercise. Time to purge. And on and on... I wanted to take a closer look at change, from my own perspective, from the minds of the people I photograph for this, and in how I see change throughout my daily life. Yesterday, as I shot this photo, taking in the sunset and gazing out at Beacon Hill, I thought a lot about the ways my life has changed in the last 5 years. For the previous 3 hours, I’d been walking all over the hill that’s silhouetted in the photo, passing out flyers door to door for the venue I work at a few days a week. I wish I could say that freelance work is enough to sustain me, but most of you who do this, know that there are months upon months of down time as the colder months roll in. Thankfully, my work is super flexible and allows me to take time off when I need it, plus it’s at night, which allows me to edit during the days and spend family time on the weekends. I’m fiercely protective of that, for good reason. Finding myself working for someone else, who I believe wholeheartedly in, rather than just working for myself is something I haven’t had to do in a number of years, but it’s a part of the change that I’ve had to adapt to and one that I’m glad to be a part of. #TheChangeOperation Day 7.