Portrait

French style

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

For the second time in two weeks, my former college freshman roommate was in Portland, on family matters. This time, we caught up for a nice lunch. Sebastian has done well, and he now lives and works in France. I am envious of several things, notably his access to universal healthcare, and the fact that France is considered to have the best health system in the world, according to many credible monitoring groups.

I also am jealous of his chic French style. Wherever you make your home, you will adapt to the local customs and fashions. Sebastian proved that well. Me, I looked like I still came fresh out of an Alaska brewpub, sporting my Carhartts and rain gear.

Here’s to catching up on all of those past decades, ami. The years have treated you very, very well.

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An Ode to my Former College Roommate

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Despite the inauspicious circumstances that led my former freshman college roommate to fly from France to Portland this week, I could not be more happy. It has been well over three decades since I shared the cramped dormitory living space in college with my friend, Sebastian. And fate brought him back to Portland this week. For that, I personally am grateful.

I probably could not have found a better person to share that tight living space with, when I was 18. It was the only time in my life I lived in a dorm (for one academic year exactly), and I am sure I was not the easiest person to be with. I had odd hours and was restless. I probably woke Sebastian up more than he would like doing those all-nighters that I tended to do during my undergraduate days.

Last night a group of us former classmates gathered at a local pub in Portland. I had not seen any of these folks in decades. I really enjoyed it. It made me realize how important connections can be, even when you part paths and move to different parts of the country, or world.

That get together inspired me to dig up two black and white shots I took of Sebastian, when I was more into black and white photography and darkroom experimentation. One shows him hard at work in his room during our freshman year. I always admired his ability to focus, not to mention his incredible intelligence. The other shows his creative side, which he had in spades. Thanks for helping to make that first year of college a success, and safe journeys, ami!

 

 

Family and the holidays

I have not shared Thanksgiving with my family now for nearly  30 years. Living at opposite ends of the continent, and in my case Alaska for a half-dozen years, makes travel on the busiest travel time of the year just about impossible. We may not be able to share another one together like we did when we were a unit, when I was younger. This makes me think of them even more this year. So, enjoy the time you spend with family. You might never know if it is the last time you do. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

 

 

Me, I like herding dogs most of all

Ever since I traveled to Omak, Washington, in 2012 and met a couple of amazing Texas heelers adored by their owner, I have been smitten by this breed. Herding dogs just have that certain special something. Hey good boy, you are looking might fine. Click on the picture to see a larger photo on a separate picture page.

The look that is love

Every now and then some research pops into the news cycle that tells us something we know: puppies make us feel good. One of the latest studies, whose rigor I cannot verity, found that gazing into a a dog’s or puppy’s eyes releases the hormone oxytocin, which makes us humans feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think I already knew that. Hi there, cute girl. Thanks for making me feel that magic only puppies can create.

 

Three of my favorite mother and daughter portraits

I have published these photos before on either my blog or web site, or both. Some times, everything comes together nicely when you get family members to pose. You cannot fake a warm smile.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

Tell me, you so wise, who among us does not have many masks

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

The expression “Janus faced” stems from Roman mythology. The god it represents, Janus, was two-headed. Sculptures show  two faces arranged in opposite directions.  The contemporary expression “Janus faced” is used to call out “two-faced” or deceitful persons, often politicians. Classic Greek theater  has a similar pairing many modern theater goers have seen of the two masks of drama, which show the classical Greek division of comedy and tragedy. They symbolize ancient Greek muses, Thalia and Melpomene. The muse of comedy is represented by the laughing face, and the muse of tragedy is represented by the weeping face.

I thought about the faces we present to the public, sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. No one is able to fully mask their emotions, and I would say all of us can wear each mask depending on our ambitions and circumstances. Many of us encounter this daily, perhaps in a work environment with someone who projects being a lovable person to impress an audience he or she deems important to his or her personal priorities, and then they wear the other face when they no longer need to put on an act and can display the polar opposite behavior, usually to subordinates.

A conversation I had last night made me think about this, and during my long run today I thought about a pair of pictures I have of someone I once knew. Her faces were wonderfully clear, and powerful. I took these photos more than a dozen years ago, when I was much more involved in black and white portraiture and fascinated by what those portraits would tell me and other viewers. I hope one day to have someone capture me with my masks so I can see how I project my masks to the public.

My faith in humanity

On days when chaotic people around me seem overwhelming, in that place called life and the real world, I always seek the solace in what I know to be universally true. And that is the goodness in others.

I ignore the emotional tornadoes who suck energy from others, and I bring back memories of people I have met everywhere in the world. Today, on a day when the whirlwind people were a bit too much, I got a jolt of the “rest of humanity” through some friendly old smiles. Here are a few of their faces, taken from my travels in Bali and Java, in Indonesia, in February 2009.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Janelle demonstrates frost face

 

One of the truisms of true runners is, a runner runs. And they run no matter what the hell is happening outside, hot, cold, pollution, whatever. I took this shot of a running buddy, Janelle, on a great Anchorage area backcountry run on snow. Yes, you can run on snow that has melted a bit and then froze crust hard. Our adventure traversed the length of Chugach State Park in March 2007. Many a time I had ice on my eyelashes and whiskers when running during an Alaska winter.

Tibetan carpet weaver, Darjeeling, India

When I visited the Indian hill station city of Darjeeling in 1989, I met many Tibetan refugees, who had made their home there, preserving their culture in exile from Chinese-occupied Tibet. You can see more photos I took on my India gallery. (Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)