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Personal & professional musings

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Images from a recent shoot in San Diego for Portland-based design firm Walker Macy. I studied photography in Chicago where you learned very quickly about the marriage of photography and architecture, so I love shooting for architecture and design magazines & firms. I'm not hired as an classical architectural photographer though, but asked to use my documentary skills that show spaces being activated and reanimated through design. I go to...

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Concur

It took many months but work I did earlier this year is finally up on Concur's homepage. Great team to work with, you can see on their homepage here.

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My first assignment in Seattle was at Microsoft, assigned about two days after we moved here, by The New York Times. I suspect, one day, my last assignment will be there too. This time I went back to document how the company is redesigning office spaces in order to compete with Amazon and other local tech companies, for millennial talent. Apparently they need places to walk their dogs and cannot be further than 50 feet from a coffee shop....

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Taschen "Explorer" book.

I got a nice spread in Taschen's new book "Explorer" on the Alaskan wilderness. Originally shot for The New York Times and edited, many moons ago, by the great Lonnie Schlein, who sent me off to the wilds of the Tongass National Forest on a wing and a prayer.

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I have probably shot for 50 different newspapers over the years, including many overseas. It was a great honor this week to finally shoot an assignment for The Boston Globe; an honor because of the Globe's famous photo department and some of the incredible photographers and editors that have worked there over the years, including a friend Yunghi Kim. Story is on...

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INDUSTRIAL

When I tell clients I don't do product photography what I mean to say is I don’t shoot heavily stylized product photography. The kind of shoots that take an entire day setting up lights to shoot a single object. I respect photographers who have the patience for that, it's just not for me. Having said that, I do shoot products in their working environment, organic images of tools or food in the real world. What I lack in patience for an all...

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I don't shoot as much for The New York Times as I once did, but when I do, I get a nice big opener in the Friday Business section!

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Yesterday, in a stunt about removing statues, a small group of alt-righters and Trump supporters decided to protest the infamous Lenin Statue standing in Fremont, Seattle, right near our home. The protestors failed to noticed a few big differences with the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, of course. 1. It's privately owned...

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I finally checked out one of my most unusual image usages - a photo of the opening of Cannabis City, Seattle's first legal marijuana store, used by the owner on a commemorative brass plaque outside the store in Seattle's SODO district.

I probably didn't charge enough but I'll be honest, but how often do you get an offer to turn an image into brass outside a pot shop?

The original photo of James Lathrop celebrating his store's...

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Photographing art installations around the Allen Institute for Brain Science's new headquarters in Seattle's booming and rapidly changing South lake Union district.

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Watching my daughters playing I sometimes hear the Tom Wait's song "What's he building in there?" in my head. Here Phoebe was acting this out in the doll house my grandfather built in the 1930s for my mom. Refurbished in 2010 with all new wiring, floors and paint, the girls always building something in there. It's not a playhouse for the...

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The forgotten story of Cambodia’s Lost Boyz in AmericaWelcomed to the U.S. as children, deported as adults - featured in Timeline

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Just got back from 4 days in Las Vegas. Like a lot of folks, I have a love/hate relationship with the city; it's America's "ID" manifested in many dubious ways. However, hidden among all the tricky-tack and neon, the city has some real gems. One is architect David Rockwell's 80-ft. tall "treehouse" restaurant, called Mastro's, at Las Vegas' City Center. Here a 8-frame image of the structure, stitched together in Adobe Lightroom, shot on a...

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On assignment on the roof of the Komo Plaza building, next to Seattle's iconic Space Needle. Thanks to my awesome assistant and photographer Hannah Wahl for the snap!

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What's my best selling image over my 25 year career? Exclusive photos of Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi I took on the day of her release? Nope. My exclusive portraits of then up-and-coming actor Joseph Gordan-Levitt, taken during a one minute shoot in a Seattle hotel? Nope. Exclusive access I’ve had with various legendary CEOs in Seattle? Nope.

My best selling image, one that gets licensed at least once a month, even a decade...

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I shot one of the installations at the Frye Art Museum for their "Genius" series. The beautiful final book just came out with a double page spread of one of my images included. Many thanks to the editors.

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A lull in commissioned work has let me add to my aircraft collage, tentatively titled "Underbelly". Only problem is now I've photographed too many of the same types of plane and need more variety. Seattle's Boeing Field often provides that but the city's official airport, SEATAC, is an endless stream of 737s most days. Maybe a road trip is needed.

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Some aerial shoots go smoother than others and I now know my limit for a single ride out over Seattle with Take-san, by favorite pilot in his R22 out of Classic Helicopter. My limit is apparently 2-3 subjects, not 6. When you reach out to clients and say you'll be in the air and whether they need anything, remember your Dramamine limit! Mine is apparently 3 head-spinning shoots. The first was easy though, the new Washington State 144 car...

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I took this photograph below in late January, 1996, while covering the last days of the Cambodian Civil War on assignment for Newsweek Magazine. It’s another of my favorites, and also luckiest photographs, just scanned in on an Imacon scanner. I was standing on the side of Route 57, the main road from the Northwestern provincial capital of Battambang to Pailin, a Khmer Rouge stronghold to the south, when the tank appeared out of the bushes...

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After years of using a Nikon Coolscan LS-4000, bought in 2001 in Japan, I recently was able to use one of Hasselblad’s Imacon film scanners....

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Just spent another morning between assignments hanging out in the back streets around Seatac Airport, this time photographing incoming aircraft with my new Nikon D810 and it's monster files. Flying used to mean adventure, and as a kid, risk, but as I’ve gotten older the adventures have been tempered and flying is, well, just so safe. The thrill is gone. This recent series is shot from straight under and the dirtier the plane the better. The...

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Last autumn I spent a day James Lindley, 34, a former Marine and undertaker who today volunteers his time to provide proper military funerals for homeless and indigent veterans. Article by Michael Phillips:

"Each year, some 250 people die in King County without money or family, some after years in nursing...

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Recent work for The New York Times on Weyerhaeuser's new urban office in downtown Seattle. After years in one of America's most beautiful suburban office campuses, Weyerhaeuser decided to move into Seattle's urban core as the company reshapes itself from a forestry and timber business...

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One of the benefits of having a (then) girlfriend when you’re a student photographer is having a model to call on for studio lighting classes! Not that Jennifer (now my wife) enjoyed the experience. Like most of us, she’s always been self-conscious, but I can say she is still the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and a stunning model for me to learn lighting with. A real inspiration.

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Some work at the Agri Beef processing plant in Toppenish, Washington. The plant is considered a model in the industry with high safety standards, a biogas plant that converts animal waste into electricity, the tracking of meat from farm to table and a unionized labor force that process high end, organic and grass fed beef from across the Pacific Northwest. That doesn't mean it's a good place for the faint of heart, but for this meat eater, it...

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Some of my latest work for Microsoft, photographing the work done by their Redmond based IT team for the 'Gears of War' gaming team based in nearby Vancouver, B.C. Shooting tech is hard, very hard. The first thing that you see is rows and rows of people sitting at their desks, staring at the computers. With a little patience & creativity, though, you can capture some interesting moments but the most important trick is making sure your...

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It took just under two years of work, from the keel laying ceremony with Nate Hardy of the San Francisco Fire Department, to launching that city's new fireboat, built here in Seattle by my client, Vigor. The hardest part of photographing the construction of the new boat? The final beauty shots of her during sea trials in Elliot Bay just off of downtown Seattle. Luckily the weather gods cooperated as did the boat's powerful water canons - when...

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After years of dull, poorly lit portraits that often look like mugshots, it seems companies are finally wising up and seeking out more imaginative, personal and intimate types portraits of their staff. One thing doing years of editorial portraits for clients like Fortune Magazine and BusinessWeek has taught me, is the ability to work with subjects quickly, help them relax and get images that capture their personality. Sometimes I call them...

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Lukas and his daughter Lola, Cape Disappointment, Washington. No explanation needed.

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On assignment in the small Eastern Oregon town of Redmond last week. As the sun set, hordes of people - homeless, bikers, rednecks, families with strollers, skateboarders, street punks, a couple in a BMW - all arrived in the town’s small park to play Pokemon Go.

I’m not sure if I’m appalled by this game or not, but after a month of terrible news in the US, maybe folks getting away from their TVs and Facebook and wandering around and...

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I just came back from an assignment in New York, with a quote from a friend stuck in my head. Over dinner, talking about our kids, my old New York Times colleague and mentor, Howard French said, "Our children consume us". Two days after getting back, with that quote in my head, I shot this image (on my new Fuji X100T camera) of my daughter Phoebe and wife Jennifer getting ready for school in the...

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Long before the iPhone panorama swipe mode came along, there were actual panorama cameras that mechanically scanned across the view, capturing the image on a wide format negative. It's hard to image the technical skills needed to operate such a camera and process the negatives, but imagine doing it with a few hundred rowdy English public school boys, myself included. The threat of detention was the tool used to keep order during these photo...

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Ten years ago this month I was maced at work for the first time. It always sounds strange thinking about getting sprayed by police with mace but what was stranger was after the image here was published, the French police spraying me sent a charming letter, apologizing for hitting me and asking for a copy of the photograph. C'est la vie of a photojournalist!

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Something I learned this week: fighting the wind, cold and a spinning head are needed to photograph a fast moving pilot boat from a helicopter. One of the things I love about my work is I learn something new every assignment. I've done numerous aerial photo assignments of ferries and ships for local shipbuilder Vigor Industrial, but shooting a slow, lumbering ferry in Seattle’s Elliot Bay, I...

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Another amazing day at the Vigor Industrial shipyards here in Seattle. After nearly two months of rain, the sun finally shone, creating some wonderfully epic light to document the company's work on the USGCG Healy, the nation's largest icebreaker. The U.S. Coast Guard currently has only three polar icebreakers: two heavy (the Polar Sea and the Polar Star) and one medium (the Healy), so there's a serious push by state and local officials for...

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So decided to really throw back, with an old photo I found in a box, taken by fellow photo student Chris Finger while at Columbia College in Chicago in 1993. Myself with my then girlfriend, and now wife, Jennifer. I love this image, Jennifer looks so in control!

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Recent aerial work of the new Artists at Play playground at the Seattle center, featured in Gray Magazine.

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Double page spreads in actual magazines are pretty rare these days. I managed two in this month’s Geo Magazine from Germany for a piece on Paul Stamets and his amazing work on mushrooms.

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Even when I try to take a break from being a photographer, I can’t. The image above was caught while on a camping trip with my daughter Zoe in Mount Rainier National Park. I only brought my little old Fuji X10 but when I saw the light at Shadow Lake I knew it was back to “work”.

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Earlier this month I got a tour of Shell Oil’s controversial Polar Pioneer, an exploratory oil drilling platform berthed at the Port of Seattle before heading to the Arctic to search for potential oil reserves. The rig was met by protests when it arrived and departed Seattle and helped coin a whole new word – “kayaktivists” – for the protestors who met the rig in their kayaks. If Shell plans on bringing these rigs back to Seattle, judging by...

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Always nice to get an old style, double page spread (two!) in an actual paper magazine. Makes me feel young again!

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Twenty three years ago I took a photograph of two young girls in an alley in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Wendy Om (age 3 at the time) and her sister Olivia (age 5) where sisters to Ricky, an 18 year old member of a local street gang called the Loco Boyz who were, like Wendy and Olivia, Cambodian refugees who had survived the Khmer Rouge genocide. Ricky was party of an extensive...

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There’s probably not a documentary photographer alive who hasn’t been influenced by Mary Ellen Mark. Mark, who died today at age 75, was a seminal photographer, especially for those of us...

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I just returned from a 3 day assignment in Las Vegas, doing a travel story for a Spanish language magazine. It’s been 22 years since I was last in the neon-lit, desert town with a camera, working on a story with Gino Siang, a young Cambodian refugee and gang member who I spent nearly two years photographing as part of a story on the Cambodian diaspora. One of my favorite images was taken as we passed the famed Flamingo Casino on the Strip, in...

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I first realized I could use my camera to protect myself from unpleasant realities while working on a story in Cambodia on land mines. Photographing in the Battambang Hospital I was confronted with the daily toll of war as people – young and old – flowed into the emergency rooms with horrific injuries caused by land mine explosions...

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I finished my first plane spotting collage, working from the images I wrote about earlier. I have no idea where this will go, right now I’m envisioning wallpapering my office with a giant mural and letting my head spin. I guess I’m trying to bring the thrill back to flying, something I find very pedestrian these days. Some people complain about how...

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My daughter Phoebe enjoying Washington’s stunning Pacific Coast in Kalaloch, WA. My work usually slows down this time of year which means more photos of the kids than normal!

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Would you pay $400,000 for this home that’s Zillow says is only worth $73,325? What if you knew it was the childhood home of Kurt Cobain, legendary singer for Nirvana, and that second floor window might give a glimpse into the struggles and inspirations of his life?

The...

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