Last month, I got a call to shoot a story about an internet addiction treatment center, one of the first of its kind, for the Daily Telegraph of London. It was my second assignment for them; previously I did a story about medical marijuana patients in Washington.
After a thirty minute drive down bucolic country roads, I arrived at 9 a.m. sharp for what was supposed to be the start of the group’s morning meeting.
They had already begun, and as they described what they were hopeful for in the coming day, it became clear it was now my turn. What, really, was I hopeful for? Feeling visibly caught off-guard, I tried to explain that I was hopeful to get to know them, that it would be beautiful out — that I might get the chance to tell their stories. The residents didn’t owe me anything, but they were very welcoming. And unreserved. I didn’t want to parachute in and claim to know anything about what they are going through — so I just tried to sit, and listen, and shoot sparingly, only when the moment really felt significant.
Based in Fall City, Wash. not far from Microsoft headquarters, the reStart treatment program is three to six-months long and helps enrollees, who are overwhelming 18-24 and male, replace their unhealthy activities with physical fitness, human relationships and newfound intrapersonal skills. The residents live in a new and spacious home bordered by tall trees, plush lawns, a tree-house turned therapy room and a climbing wall. But for all the amenities, the hot-tub and the alike, this is serious business. The people in the program that I met spoke about their behavior, and what it cost them, what it did to their lives, in an identical manner and gravity as those with any other kind of serious addiction.
I met people who had been in the program for months, and others who had been there for less than a week. All had harrowing stories to share. Like Isaac, who lost a scholarship to American University in Washington, D.C. because his internet gaming had become so out of control, he no longer attended classes or went to work as a math tutor. And Mark, who spent days locked in his bedroom playing internet video games. He had lost his job, and was not going to be able to make rent — and on the day he was to move into a homeless shelter, his parents gave him the intervention that brought him to reStart.
Ultimately, being there and hearing each of the residents’ stories even gave me pause. We live in this digital age, where you can barely even pay your bills or get customer service without a computer — where navigating means entering point a to point b into Google. I can’t imagine trying to do my job without the technology I rely on. Driving away to my next job, I felt guilty turning my phone back on. I realized just how much the day had affected me. The phone began buzzing violently as a stream of alerts, texts, emails and notifications flooded the screen. Of course, I realized, I had to check them.
Tonight was just about the craziest night I have ever documented. Police were well-prepared for protestors connected to May Day events here in Seattle, and the expected violence got underway pretty early in the evening. It was incredibly intense to be in the middle of this developing news story, as smoke grenades were going off and police were shouting at everyone to “Get back,” as they pushed at the crowd with their bikes. Just as I was walking all over the city with the crowd and protestors and media, it was all I could do to just keep moving, and trying to keep my head on a swivel. My big fear going in was that an anarchist might try and grab my camera or assault me, as happened last year to other media shooters, and so atleast I was fortunate in that regard. All in all, a damn crazy night. Even if it was nice to see the 20 photojournalists from around Seattle doing great work all afternoon. And an enormous thank you to Matt Mills McKnight, Erika Schultz and Ted S. Warren for loaning me some cards tonight when I realized I left my card wallet in the car with the laptop!
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I got into Denver at 10:30am Friday after leaving my house at well before 5 a.m. Seattle time to cover 4/20 weekend in the Mile-High City for Northwest Leaf. One crazy event I never thought I would get to shoot would be a smoker’s VIP party featuring none other than Snoop Lion. Making the event even more historic, the fact that Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Washington state and Colorado are the first states to do so.
After a bit of back and forth to get the credentials squared away, I was lead into the beautiful Fillmore Auditorium. Soon, hundreds of medical Cannabis patients and recreational enthusiasts from across the country streamed in, having paid hundreds for access to the concert and film screening. They settled in and took a seat to watch Snoop’s new documentary, Reincarnated. The film explores Jamaica, rasta and Snoop’s work to make an authentic reggae album, and was pretty entertaining, from the glimpses I caught during the evening. Many of the attendees were smoking pot, passing joints and blunts from row to row. Sharing is caring.
As the clock struck midnight and 4/19 became 4/20 (the much-vaunted marijuana smoker’s holiday), a new year’s eve worthynumber of balloons fell from the ceiling and the party raged on. Today’s 50k+ strong celebrations in the shadow of the Colorado state Capitol should be even more interesting to cover.
APhotoADay.org is an amazing community of photographers from all backgrounds who share their daily photographs. It’s a chance to get feedback on new work and projects, or to compare notes on topics like freelancing. Every day, one of the thousands of pictures shared on the discussion list previously is displayed on the front page of the website. And today, one of my favorite pictures from BunnyCon was featured, and that just kind of makes my day. Don’t forget to browse the archives, it’s full of stunning work.
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The Seattle Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 3-0 to win their home opener at Safeco Field Monday April 8, 2013. I had seats in the first few rows of the 300 level with my brother, and was able to make a few frames while at my seat and exploring the park.
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We are blessed, here in the Northwest, to have an abundance of events that unite everyday people around something silly. On Saturday March 30 in Seattle, dozens dressed like bunnies for BunnyCon Seattle 2013 and went on a pub crawl around downtown. They started off their journey in Pioneer Square, wandered over to Fado Irish Pub, (literally) hopped next door to Contour, then surprised people visiting Pike Place Market, drank in the sun on the roof of the Hard Rock Café, flash mobbed the anime convention Sakura-Con happening nearby at the Washington State Convention Center and ended the night with drinks back at the Alibi Room. I followed along on their furry journey on the nicest day yet of spring, and it was an absolute blast. I don’t think I have heard quite so many dirty rabbit jokes, which I will leave to your imagination.
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Guns Across America Rally at Washington state Capitol in Olympia | Gun owner portraits | Seattle editorial photographer
I had no idea what to expect when I made the long, early morning drive to Olympia on Saturday for the Guns Across America rally. I knew this is would be an important event to document given current events and the incredible fervor surrounding gun rights in this country.
I decided to focus on making portraits in front of a portable studio setup of some of the 1,500 people to attend the event. About half of the people I asked to photograph were interested and allowed me to do so, the rest rebuffed me, mostly citing their privacy and concerns of how the images might be used. I understood. That is all part of the environment these gun owners live in, and I respected their wishes and moved on. Still, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and chat with passionate people involved in something they care about and believe deeply in.
The photos are available for license.
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This was a crazy event to cover. On Saturday, Seattle Snow Day trucked in 162,000 pounds of snow from the mountains and dumped it at Seattle Center, where organizers expected around 6,000 people to participate in “The World’s Largest Snowball Fight.” 5,387 snowball chuckers over 18 years old ended up attending Seattle Snow Day — enough to break the Guinness Book of World Records, organizers said. The day started with about a dozen teams building elaborate (and sometimes strikingly not so) forts to protect themselves from the snowball onslaught to come.
A few hours later, and it was a free for all. With the sunny weather earlier in the day, followed by quickly plummeting temperatures by the time of the fight, there was a lot of ice in the snow. And it was dark. Brave people tried to cross through “enemy” lines, but that was a perilous mission. Many, this photographer included, got hit all over (hard) by snowballs flying through the freezing air, but nearly everyone seemed to have a smile on their face. It’s just not every day that an event can bring people together in this city. And if it allows us all to play like kids for a moment, well, all the better.
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Visitors to Golden Gardens Park in Ballard admire the sunset on a brisk evening Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com
Just after midnight, Washington legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use for those over 21 under Initiative 502, which took effect Thursday, Dec. 6. 2012. A public celebration hailed as Legalization Day in Washington State attracted about a hundred people to toke up at Seattle Center’s International Fountain Thursday evening, after a similar event at 12:01 a.m. near the Space Needle. Public smoking is still against the law, and marijuana remains counter to federal law. Colorado passed a similar measure.
All photos available for licensing at http://seattlephotographer.photoshelter.com/gallery/Washington-legalizes-marijuana-photos/G0000..eNFpzfHOc/C0000fzMTw_NAP.c
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