For the March issue of Northwest Leaf I got the opportunity to photograph Martin Nickerson, the owner of Northern Cross Collective, Bellingham, Washington’s longest-running medical marijuana dispensary — open since 2011. I’ve photographed him a bunch over the years for various stories. This time around, it’s because the Washington state Department of Revenue contends that Nickerson owes more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes related to the sale of marijuana. “This is medicine, you can’t tax medicine,” Nickerson told Northwest Leaf in February, during a tour of one of several marijuana grows under his control.
Before working on the inside grow room portraits, I was drawn to the stormy weather and open fields surrounding Martin’s property. The wind was whipping and cold, but the light and color of the sky was so striking. I quickly threw a light on a stand and convinced Wes, the editor, to hold on.
“I know accounting may sound boring,” Harkley said, “But a business can’t operate and serve patients unless it’s making money to pay the operating bills… I realized that I could use my accounting skills to help these businesses succeed. If they succeed here in Washington, then it’s a model for the rest of the country and it’s also another “chink in the armor” of the drug war. I think that’s what has got me really excited, because I can do what I love and at the same time I can actually help some really interesting entrepreneurs. You can’t serve patients or recreational customers efficiently unless you’re following all the guidelines, so give me all your boring stuff and I’ll do it so you can focus on more important things.”
Attorney Adam Ballout of the ABC Law Group in Everett has worked to protect parental rights for medical Cannabis patients in Washington since 2011. “Family law recognizes environment above all,” Ballout said.
“Do not make it easy for them. Keep your medicine out of reach of children, and make sure that you respect it, and that it isn’t affecting parenting. Mentally you should always be prepared to think ‘What if I had to give a walk-through today?’ There shouldn’t be a bong in the living room, or plants growing and smelling in a way that affects children in the house.”
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert & City of Seattle Director of Electronic Communications Sabra Schneider for Cityvision Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer
I had the pleasure last month of shooting a couple assignments for Cityvision Magazine’s Feb. 2014 issue. The theme is how local governments are putting more data online in a move towards more openness and community building.
The first shoot took place at Arlington Municipal Airport to help convey how Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert is an amateur pilot (fun fact: that’s her plane and she flew herself in for the shoot after having lunch on Whidbey Island with friends). My friend and fellow shooter Chris Wilson gave me a hand setting up a few lights on the tarmac, which I got to drive onto! Felt a little bit like North by Northwest as I drove in between planes…I guess I can check that one off the bucket list. We also shot back at City Hall for a few more options for the editors.
The next week, another assignment for the same issue came through and I photographed City of Seattle Director of Electronic Communications Sabra Schneider at her offices overlooking downtown Seattle. Sabra and her team are working to find more ways to put more data online, so that city residents can access the data that is publicly available to them. It’s an interesting new time for the city and I think it’s great that they are embracing new mediums to keep transparency on the up and up.
Tip of the hat to my friend Kai-Huei Yau who shot a story in Walla Walla as part of the same issue on page 16.
Thanks for looking,
Ever since I first covered the Seattle Elvis Invitational back in 2009 when it was smaller and staged at the (sadly defunct) Club Motor, I have wanted to make portraits of these amateur Elvises — Elvii, if you prefer. The tribute artists come from around the state to perform their best interpretations of Elvis’ greatest hits, from his punky start in the 50s to the slinkier numbers in the 60s, and they look and sound absolutely incredible doing it. They were natural subjects for portraits, and I strived to create pictures that spoke to their personality as much as their performances. I was given approval from the organizers to set up a small photo booth area in between the dressing rooms and the stage, so most of the participants would have to pass by me. I also made some fun shots of the dapper attendees who came dressed in their sweet rockabilly duds. The event takes place at the Experience Music Project in downtown Seattle, the Frank Gehry-designed musical history museum that is well worth a visit. This personal assignment was a great start to 2014 and I cannot wait to unveil some very cool projects lined up for this year!
A few of my Seattle Elvis Invitational portraits appeared in The Stranger in print and online Jan. 22, 2014.
The Year in Pot – Marijuana legalization photos in Washington state | Seattle editorial photographer
Washington’s legalization of marijuana under Initiative 502 has dominated my assignment requests this year.
I am so grateful for wonderful clients like Northwest Leaf, The Daily Telegraph of London, Barcroft Media, The UK Sun, and Seattle Weekly, that have commissioned or licensed marijuana work this year! A whole lot of dramatic changes are still to come, like the new recreational pot stores opening, new big businesses popping up, and the impact of all this on the community and the alike. Washington, alongside Colorado, are going to be the battlegrounds for a radical paradigm shift, and I hope to have an opportunity to document it as much as I did this incredible year.
Thanks to all my friends and colleagues for their continuing support of my work on this story.
Onward and upward in 2014!
I am happy to see my work in a publication that I grew up with for so long!
Seattle Weekly reached out to me about some of my archive images of Jamen Shively, who I covered at a May 30th press conference in the swanky Columbia Tower.
Shively told the gathered media from around the world that he and his partners planned to open up Diego Pellicer, the first global legal marijuana brand, as former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who said he agreed with the need for drug policy changes, stood stoically at his side.
Shively made aggressive, promising statements about the company’s future, as he diplomatically obfuscated from media questions surrounding everything from how the company would grow the pot to distribute it to raise the capital to have this massive infrastructure.
Today, Shively is out as the face of Pellicer, in a very fascinating cover story from Seattle Weekly’s Nina Shapiro — one of my favorites. Thanks for looking!
I had an assignment in August to photograph Rebecca Howlett, a tribal law intern at the firm Kanji & Katzen, for a recruiting guide published by the University of Kansas School of Law. The piece highlights the great work that KU students do as interns at firms across the country. It just came out and looks great! I was requested to photograph her with a nice Seattle-identifying backdrop, which was easy with the firms’s Pioneer Square offices overlooking Smith Tower (the pencil building). To combat the intense overhead sunlight, I had my assistant, David Ryder, hold a reflector scrim over Rebecca to put her in the shade. Then I brought in a beauty dish for the main light and a softbox for a bit of fill, to give the image a fun, dynamic look. The client was happy with the take and Rebecca told me I was easy to work with — that’s nice of her since it was about 90 degrees on the roof that day! What a trooper!
Thanks for looking,
I got a call last Saturday from the The Sun, a British newspaper, to photograph portraits of Mykayla Comstock and her family out in Pendleton, OR. The client needed the pictures shot Sunday and turned around on a very short deadline by Sunday night, and I had to make the five-hour drive to get there. So I packed up my Escape with my backdrops and portable studio lighting and hit the road. Although I live in Seattle, the paper thought I would be a good choice given my experience in photographing marijuana related stories and subjects.
I was grateful to be able to tell the story of such an inspiring little girl. Twice a day, Mykayla, 8, receives homemade capsules containing a Cannabis oil extract prepared by her mother, Erin Purchase, 25, and her partner, Brandon Krenzler. As a result, the blood cell counts devastated by acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia have returned to normal levels — and Mykayla is happily growing stronger and healthier every day. And she isn’t languishing in a hospital. After a year of the Cannabis treatments, Mykayla’s cancer has not returned, and she will be considered in remission in another year. The family received tremendous national scrutiny after their story was first written about in The Oregonian. The debate over whether parents should give their children Cannabis remains fiery, but for this family, nothing else has worked as well. (more…)