The Seattle Times recently commissioned me to photograph the 1971 San Bernardino County killer John ‘Pieces’ Brown. Brown received the nickname ‘Pieces’, because he used to dismember his victims by using household tools from around the garage, never using the same tool twice. I must admit it was very disturbing having Brown hold similar items he used, I couldn’t help but imagine him swinging, sawing, or puncturing his victims, and then putting them in trash cans to rid the evidence.
By the end our session I was more than happy to leave right away, but before I could, Brown asked if I could help out with some much needed ‘work’. He insisted his years have caught up to him and could use my youth. He lead me over to the side of the house where there was a huge wood pile. As he slowly lifted each piece of wood one by one, I could barely make out what looked to be a bright yellow rain coat. I quietly, instantly started inching back, step by step, ready run as fast as my feet could possibly take me. He must have noticed the look on my faced when he asked me -
JB – ‘What’s the matter with you?! Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.’
Me – ‘Who me? Naaah, I’m fine….so…um… what’s under the wood pile that you need help with John?’
JB – ‘Have patience, you’ll see.’
Patience I didn’t have as I started to turn to walk away. At that very moment, I felt something or someone grab my arm as if it were caught in a bear trap! Brown had me, it was just him and I and nobody else around. San Bernardino is that way, desert for miles, and he and I both knew it. Faster than lighting he had axe in hand ready to chop!
You wouldn’t believe me if I weren’t here today writing about it. Old John Brown really did need help. It was not a yellow rain coat as I thought, it was a beat up old Slip n Slide his kids used to use years ago. It had gotten so rain soaked and full of mud, slime, and debris, that Brown couldn’t lift it by himself. So he used his axe to chop it into smaller pieces, and I used the pitch fork to pile it all into a trash can. And it turns out his ‘victims’ were just the local road kill, you see John Brown used to work for the City of San Bernardino and be the head of the animal clean up until he retired in 1997.
Funny how reality isn’t what it seems sometimes.
September 5, 2012
Over the summer I was commissioned to shoot some environmental portraits for 6 of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 2012 alumni. Our first couple of shoots were located at Seattle’s own Museum of Flight. If you have never been, you haven’t seen one of Seattle most prized gems. It is full of amazing aviation history that is definitely worth the time spent.
The next couple of portraits were up in Everett at Boeings own Future of Flight. Here, Boeing displays there latest advancements in the aeronautical industry to the public. There’s even a tour where you can hop on a bus and drive around the air strips with all the foreigners you can muster.
Last was the Museum of Flight Restoration Center also located in Everett. By far this was my favorite place to shoot and visit. There is one paid employee and the rest of the crew are volunteers. I’m guessing that most of the older gentlemen I met there were in either in WW2, or the Korean War, judging from their hats and jackets, with all their decorative pins, and their demeanor towards a civilian like me. At this facility they have dozens of historic jets, planes, vehicles, and props that are then fixed up, repaired, and shipped down to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
I have not had much interest or thought towards aviation, but visiting these sights really made me appreciate the industry and culture. The technology and advancements towards faster, lighter, more efficient planes is incredible. This shoot was definitely my favorite over the summer and hope to do more!
(This last shot is 3 of the volunteers at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center and is my personal favorite)
August 22, 2012
I arrived at the projected new location for down town Mars Hill Church at 8:00am met by Pastor Tim Gaydos. It was a some what sunny Thursday morning in mid June, as Tim and some others toured and chatted about the building. I broke off and had the place to myself, just how I like it. I immediately set up for a few shots in the main sanctuary and then ventured through the maze of stairwells that lead up to the rooftop of the approximately 100 year old church established in 1908.
The building is old, the building is historic, and the building has tons of charm and character.
Around 2-3 months after shooting these photos, Mars Hill down town made the announcement that they finally ‘had the keys’. The announcement seemed to be well received by the city- “They’re not just a Sunday church. They have an active, urban mission that will be a community asset” – The Seattle Times.
It’s going to be fun and interesting to see what Mars Hill does with the building, then these photos will be about what the building looked like way back when.
August 7, 2012
A few weeks ago I was commissioned to shoot for an amazing company 3form Light Art here in Seattle. They are an amazingly talented group of artists that make one of a kind custom lights. For this project, each person contributed a uniquely sculpted piece inspired by plant life. 3form then printed some 6×9 beautiful booklets to document the work.
June 23, 2012
Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ -James 4:13-15
Over the past 17 years as I have been shooting abandoned places, houses, things. I have encountered not just the dilapidation of man made objects, but also the decay of those animals that have found their final resting places within or around these once vibrant homes.
In a recent conversation with my dad, we laughed about the saying – there are two guarantees in life, death and taxes. Yet there is also the amazing gift of life, that is why you are reading this now, because you are alive. It does trouble me that this life is fleeting, that time goes quickly (whatever time is), that there is nothing we can do about it but wait. But I know what matters is how we wait, how we spend our time, how we live this short life and who we are living it for. We only have one, and then it’s over before we know it. So this begs the question for us all, while we are still breathing, what are we doing with our time?
June 14, 2012
June 13, 2012
I was fortunate enough to do and extremely enjoyable shoot for Teague recently. They commissioned me to do 11 different portraits at 11 different locations around the city of Seattle. All the locations had some sort of relationship with the 11 Thought Leaders.
Valerie shot at Magnuson Park
Billy shot at Rosewood Guitars
Tim shot at Dots Delicatessen in Fremont. (Amazing meats here, I highly recommend this place)
Tad at Burgermaster
Ken at Boeing
Jenny at the Seattle Public Library
Adam on location at Teague
Cameron at First and Pike News in the Pike Place Market
Devin at the Olympic Sculpture Park
Tom cooking at his lovely home
Heidi at the Pike Place Market
March 29, 2012
cas·ket n [kas-kit, kah-skit]
March 12, 2012
These are some the photographs that visually describe some of my thoughts and insides. The feelings that come after the consequences of poor decision-making or the uncontrollable circumstances in life that took me by surprise in the most horribly elegant way.
Every person knows of this place in his or her own life. We all have certain ‘rooms’ within ourselves that are disordered, chaotic, hectic, confused, jumbled, in disarray, terrifying. Maybe some of us choose not to go into these rooms and shut the door and act as if they don’t exist. Yet I think inevitably, sometimes by force, we will all have to face these rooms and make the decision to walk into them or to continue to try and paint over them. To cover the doors up with sex, drugs, alcohol, or whatever one chooses to numb the reality of them.
I have discovered in this process of life, which I have the privilege to express through my photography, it is by far the most difficult painful gut wrenching beautiful fulfilling incredible honest real surprising, challenging time I have ever entered into. Making the decision and choosing to open the doors and walk in, with others support, is truly the most difficult.
Sometimes I am…2 empty chairs…collapsing…an abandoned room…erected chaos…the worn shoes underneath the bed…a broken window and open door…a fucked up room…a filthy sink…sleeping in confusion…a dark winter sleeping…redeemed in Him.
…2 empty chairs.…an abandoned room.…erected chaos.…the worn shoes underneath the bed.…a broken window and open door.…a fucked up room. …a filthy sink.…sleeping in confusion.…a dark winter sleeping.…redeemed in Him.
March 2, 2012
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
February 20, 2012
After arriving to the Seattle airport at 7:30am to find out our flight was delayed until 4pm, we finally arrived to Maui around 11pm that night totally exhausted. But our excitement for our trip eased our minds and bodies as we looked forward to the week to come.
Tara made sure to let me know how many people died here at this blow hole.
We stayed at a condo in Kihei so we could save some money on food, but it didn’t stop me from buying a bottle of rum and making fresh pineapple and papaya pina colatas every day, yum!
Unfortunately and fortunately we received some vouchers from our airlines, so we used them to hop over to the big island and visit our good friends Daniel and Senora Fairbanks who we had not seen in about 3 or so years. They have been sort of traveling the world it seems living all sorts of amazing places with there 8 absolutely beautiful children. Daniel can work just about anywhere with his business, this means he is really good at what he does!
I cannot believe how hospitable they were to Tara and I and am forever grateful. We had such a great time, even though we only stayed about 24 hours, with them and their incredible kids playing in the ocean, cooking fresh fish on a rock BBQ, and eating delicious fresh fruit from the local stands and just catching up on life.
Just after we swam at this spot, Daniel and some of the kids took me to a different spot with some rock caves as Senora and Tara started to prepare dinner. At one point Daniel and I started to swim through a few of the caves and ended up in an opened faced pool about the size of a jacuzzi. But the ocean had a mind of its own and the tide started to get stronger and stronger wanting to pull us through the other end. We just about lost it there, that’s all I’ll say about that and I had to climb out right then and there.
The next morning after Tara and I went for a short walk around the coffee fields where they live, we all had an amazing feast (my stomach is growling just thinking about it). What amazed both Tara and I is the team work within the siblings. Every body helped; washing vegetables, setting the table, caring for the littler ones, it was how it’s suppose to be in a family. Even the night before Corban and Serene, the eldest kids, were both laying on the couch reading talking to each other like best friends, what a blessing and a gift!
I forgot to mention VOG! This is a term I had never heard of until we went there. VOG is Volcanic Fog that settles in every morning but seems to lift in the evenings, weird huh?
Check out Daniels ‘office’!
We were sad to leave them, but we had an adventure we will not soon forget. It was the highlight of our trip to Hawaii and I hope we can do it again someday if the Fairbanks are still living there.
February 17, 2012
Jesse picked me up from my house at 7:30am and we got a cup of joe at Citizen by my house and then hit the road. On a Friday morning while Seattle traffic was already starting on it’s way into the city, we were in fact heading the opposite direction to eastern Washington.
The sky is big and beautiful out there once you get over the pass and onto flatter land. It’s always so refreshing to view some other scenery no matter where one lives. As we headed out on HWY 2, our only final destination was the small town of Odessa, and that was only to rest our weary heads for sleep.
We had no plans other than letting the roads, abandoned houses, and run down barns, take us where they would strictly to do photography. Note: the blog photos and video are taken by my Canon Power Shot ELPH100HS I recently got for a Christmas present from my wife.
As the sun was slowly going down so was the temperature, mind you it was dead winter. Our toes quickly grew cold as it dropped down to 21 degrees. We stayed up until about 11:30 pm shooting an abandoned hotel in Irby Washington maybe 15 miles west of Odessa. (Those photos will be up later)
We finally made it to Odessa and the both of us were very hungry. We pulled over to the 1 of 2 places that seemed to be open for business. We entered in the Rolling Thunder Saloon and as I looked around it was Jesse, myself, and the bartender. Not much going on here I guess, yet there were some incredible motorcycles in this place!
After a night sleep at La Collage Inn which every room is painted, in detail, a different country from around the world. We stayed in the Australian room with koala bears, trees, and more koala bears painted in every corner. How romantic fur us.
On our way home from our trip we stopped for one last meal at Couleegan’s Bar & Grill in Coulee City.
I swear as we entered in the you could hear the record player need jump off and scccrrrraaaaaaatch……….dead silence………as we head to sit at the bar with our backs facing everybody. We were strangers, misfits, rebels, nomads looking for a fight! Not really, actually we were just hungry and tired.
I’m not sure I’ve smoked so many cigarettes in those 2 days I was on the road with Jesse. I’m also not sure if I’ve gotten to know somebody and had so many realistic conversations about life, God, marriage, and art in a 48 hour period either.
It’s not the photographs, the destinations, the taverns or saloons I’ll remember from that trip (well, maybe the photographs). It’s the time I got to spend with my friend Jesse and the conversations we had and the relationship we will continue to build no matter when and where we are due to our proximity.
Here is a little video I made from the footage I shot with the ELPH from this trip. It’s to a song I wrote and recorded the day after Christmas, enjoy.
January 13, 2012
This kind of thing only happens once in a life time. Myself and an amazing photographer friend, Jose Mandojana, took a little road trip a few hours north of Seattle to beautiful Lake Chelan. He had some assignments for Sunset Magazine of which I assisted him.
When all was said and done for the day, it was time for me to venture off with my camera that evening. The annual car show on main street was happening in down town Lake Chelan. As I strolled this building, the words ‘Eagles Club’ caught my eye. Now mind you, I have heard of the Elks Club, even the Shriners, but was unfamiliar with the Eagles. I opened up the door and was warmly welcomed by the sweetest old lady. As she invited me in, I felt as if I was walking back in time, say around 1977. It seemed like nothing had changed in a while….a long while. (Even the beer was still 2.50 a pint!) As I sat down and chatted with some of these laid back country folks, I noticed a little sign on the bar that read ‘The Illusion of Elvis’ featuring Danny Vernon June 4th and 5th. That’s tonight! I have to get up there!
Happy accident. With my camera sitting on the counter, this rather large-and-in-charge woman noticeably intoxicated, came stumbling in. She instantly took note of my camera and insisted I come upstairs to take photos. Bingo!
I’m pretty sure there were some elderly women that actually thought this guy was Elvis Presely even getting his autograph at the end of the show. These people were living out the rest of there days in Lake Chelan, often at the Eagles Club, and I got to catch a small glimpse of the one night when Elvis came to town.