Back in May I had a cover shoot from Seattle Weekly to photograph Gravity Pay CEO Dan Price at the payment processing company’s headquarters in Ballard. The story was held until now to be included in the Best Of Issue. When I photographed him, Price’s decision to offer a starting salary of $70,000 per year to all of his employees was met by an immediate deluge of international attention. He cut his own multimillion-dollar pay to be able to finance the move. Of course not everyone was happy with the announcement, but the business is seeing an increase in sales and Price says he stands by the principles of making such a transition: for all his employees to have an actual livable wage in the Northwest. Price was humble, present, and generous with his time, and had no problem posing for a few shots with the coffee cup prop we brought in. I gave it to him after the shoot! Assisting by Ian Bates.
Seattle Weekly’s art director Jose Trujillo commissioned me for an awesome piece in the paper’s Best Of Issue that would send up the idea of The Wimps, which won Best Punk Band, as this exclusive, uptight group barely making room in their day for the story. As luck would have it, Matt, Rachel and Dave are actually nice people and were game for the idea: Jose wanted to have the band enjoying a spa day somewhere kind of dirty — could it be in an alleyway? I scouted a few hours looking for the right sketchy/usable spot. I checked out parking lots and back streets in Capitol Hill, SoDo, Georgetown, Pioneer Square, the ID and Ballard. With hours to the call time I managed to spot a perfectly questionable, graffiti-covered sidewalk with an absurd amount of garbage strewn about. I did a slow roll. There were boxes of beer upturned, bottles everywhere, and someone had gotten ahold of some chalk. I liked the spot immediately and wondered who would litter like that, then parked the car and waited for the team to assemble. Under some nice intense sunlight and with the help of Seattle stylist Tristan Weholt who sourced and staged everything else (and made a plate of guitar-shaped tea sandwiches and refreshing fruit-infused water to boot), plus the help of good friend Matt McKnight assisting, we got to work transforming this SoDo backlot into our makeshift alley spa.
Last month I had a great shoot with a Seattle painter by the name of Adream for a Q & A story in Northwest Leaf. Adream de Valdivia has been painting since he was a little kid and draws inspiration from his heritage, mathematical patterns and religious symbols. He has been commissioned to create large-scale murals through the Vulcan Foundation and is becoming well-known for his intricate, psychedelic artwork. Adream was very generous with his time, and as the Capitol Hill Block Party blared into his 3rd-floor studio just a block away, we talked about our paths to creativity and traded stories about the challenges of making it as a freelance artist around here. Check out more of his beautiful artwork at Adream Studios and on Instagram @Adream3000
Oregon legalized the use and possession of recreational marijuana officially on July 1st and I was running around Portland most of that week on assignment for Oregon Leaf. After seeing a tweet mentioning I would be in town, Eugene Reznik at American Photo Magazine reached out about me taking over their @AmericanPhotoMag account while documenting this historic news. They have shared the work of a lot of very talented people (seriously go follow them) so it was a nice way to start my day. I said I was in, he offered a few suggestions and then just set me loose. No pressure. I shared a handful of photos from a couple of the different recreational pot events in Portland where locals got some of their first opportunities to try, buy and smoke marijuana legally. Hopefully we gained a couple of followers? Big thanks to Eugene for the chance to get these images out to a wider audience and to write a bit about covering marijuana right now in the Northwest amid these changing times.
Back in March I got a surprising phone call. It was about 6 in the evening on a Monday and a producer at North6 was searching for a photographer to shoot for a Google project. Where? A remote Alaskan town. When? That weekend. I half expected a radio DJ to burst out laughing on the other end. But the assignment was to photograph an aerial tour guide in Talkeetna, a few hours north of Anchorage, as part of Google’s state-by-state Economic Impact Report highlighting how small businesses use Google services. I hoped for a chance to fly around Denali, but alas, that shoot became impossible due to scheduling. But I stayed in touch with the client and fortunately there were opportunities to take on assignments for the project in far more familiar places.
I photographed Portland Meat Collective Founder Camas Davis in Oregon, then Sip & Ship Owner Diana Naramore in Seattle, and flew to Boise, Idaho, to photograph Tsheets.com Founder Matt Rissell on a quick there-and-back trip April 1st.
Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain for OZY | Seattle editorial photographer | Bellevue photographer
Downtown skyscraper shoots are the best.
Matt McIlwain is a managing director at Madrona Venture Group, the leading venture firm in Seattle with over $1 billion in assets —many of the data-hungry tech variety. Their 34th-floor office overlooks the bustling waterfront and a downtown cityscape in flux. Photos by Daniel Berman for Ozy.
The story and photos were also picked up by USAToday.com!
Earlier this month I had a great assignment to photograph marijuana edibles for The New York Times, which wanted to showcase some of the more unusual and interesting pot products on the market. I collaborated with my regular food stylist, Malina Lopez, to capture the character of these special almonds, cookies, teas and coffee pods. The treats are available to purchase at many Washington state recreational marijuana stores. But you got to be 21.
Products photographed: Marijuana-infused Legal pomegranate tonic by Mirth Provisions, Sativa Brownie Bites by Spot, Chili-lime Almonds by Winterlife Cannabis, 4.20 Bar by Evergreen Herbal, Coffee pods by Fairwinds Manufacturing, Platy’s Premium Peanut Butter Cookie by Winterlife Cannabis, Original Caramel by Cannamel’s, Vegan-friendly Mocha Truffle by Verdelux, Chai High Tea by Evergreen Herbal, and Lemongrass Zootdrops by Zoots. Photo by Daniel Berman for The New York Times. Styling by Malina Lopez.
Thanks for looking!
Northwest Justice Project Attorney David Tarshes for Duke Law Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer
Last week I trekked all the way out to downtown Bellevue to photograph the duo behind Smartsheet.com’s impressive success story for the news website, OZY. Mark and Brent have been longtime friends, even football teammates, and have overseen the development and growth of the spreadsheet software-on-steroids into a massive, 60+ country behemoth. Read more in the great piece by Sanjena Sathian.
Thanks for looking,
Backed into the southwest corner of a large, unassuming dry dock in Port Townsend, Washington is a vessel with plenty of history. Maybe you’ve heard of John Steinbeck’s book The Sea of Cortez? This is the boat that took him and his team on their epic, problem-laden-but-ultimately-successful tour of the Gulf of California, then in its prime 75 years ago.
Today, the boat has new ownership under John Gregg, a geologist who spent $1 mil to call it his, and will likely have to spend a similar amount to fully restore it. Still, he’s dedicated to getting the boat ship-shape. Other people have tried before yet failed to do so, starting and stopping the restoration process for one reason or another – often financial, sometimes personal. There’s much more to this story, well-told in a fascinating piece by Patrick Hutchison.
The owner was unavailable for a portrait, but his manager for the project is Mike York, a longtime Seattleite who spends most of the week working slowly but surely to coordinate getting this boat back to order. I got the call last Friday from Seattle Weekly to head up to meet Mike the next day. Port Townsend is a ferry ride and an hour and a half of driving, but I’m not complaining. It was nice to check out of town for the morning and cruise through the countryside. Eventually I arrived at the dry dock. I knew what the boat looked like from Google but it wasn’t jumping out at me. I asked around. Did anyone know the John Steinbeck boat? A few workers threw back sympathetic but unhelpful stares. I had one more area to check out and there it was, nestled between cargo containers, a forklift and a set of hand built wooden stairs reaching to deck height.
This, was the Western Flyer.
Afterward, Mike asked if I wanted to climb aboard for a peek inside. That just required scaling the stairs and then a narrow ladder. With my c-stand and studio light. Oh well. Every day is arm day when you’re a lighting photographer I guess. It was worth it anyway to see what is best described as a Titanic-esque scene. Just wall-to-wall barnacles capped off by grime and rust-covered artifacts from previous owners and occupants.
Space was at a premium. I hunched into the corner with my wide angle to try and show what sinking and years of decay will do to a place. The wall left a fine coat of white dust down my back. Cest la vie. Normally I am assigned to photograph people or preparing meticulous staged product photography, and I enjoy this work, yet getting the chance to document something in disrepair, so completely varnished, just lost in a time capsule, made for one of the most fascinating shoots yet of 2015.