A few weeks ago, reporter Judith Lewis Mernit and I boarded a bus with Lassen Tours, whose primary customers are Chinese, to discover how foreigners experience the West. In 72 hours we traveled from San Fransisco to Las Vegas with stops at natural spectacles like the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. An outlet mall, fruit stands, singing fountains and Asian restaurants also made an appearance on the quick trip. Mernit summed up our perspective of the experience pretty well in the resulting High Country News article: “Both Warren and I had lived in other countries, places where we had learned the languages and tried our best to blend in with the locals. But our Chinese friends were having none of that. It occurred to us both in the same moment that we were not observing a troupe of Chinese visitors in the West attempting to adapt to our culture. We were traveling on a mobile China as it moved through the American West. And the American West was expanding — with restaurants, shopping and spectacles — to include them.” Read the resulting article here and see a few frames that didn’t make it in the story below.
I’ve been shooting a few assignments for High Country News where I work primarily as a designer and photo editor. I shot a story about a tiny speck on the map in Western Colorado back in October. That speck is called Gateway and with a population so small only 30 K-12 students attend the school, it’s hard to notice as you pass through the canyon. But what many people do notice is a huge resort, number one in Colorado and twelve in the world, that boasts a car museum, rafting, horseback riding, and romping around on gnarly roads.
I visited the place with Maureen Neal, who wrote an essay about watching the town of Gateway disappear for High Country News. She taught at the then one-room schoolhouse in 1985. We walked through the resort-owned land surrounding Gateway to visit the ancient cemetery that overlooks the town and spent the afternoon chatting with Aggie Wareham, 83, who has lived in Gateway almost her entire life. There were no commercial buildings not affiliated with the resort, and the old Vanadium mine that used to fuel the town economy in the 70s has turned into a site full of wrecked and rusting equipment.
The resort, out of sight from the town, is a huge complex of adobe buildings and green lawns with sprinklers spewing across the lawns. In October the place seemed empty, only a few cars in the lot, but apparently they get busy and fully booked during some seasons. Which is why they are building an employee housing complex to house all the workers that tend to visitors at the resort. I suspect the resort’s population exceeds the town’s during high season, maybe even year round.
Here are some shots from the area, including some I didn’t include in the magazine edit:
Last week I traveled from Colorado to California by train to catch a bus to Las Vegas for a photo assignment. I know, complicated. But it worked. Riding the train was an interesting way to see the West and learn about the historic route. The section between Denver and Salt Lake City is said to be one of the most scenic routes on the rail. Still, the most interesting sights on the train to me were the people.
Like many people I looked back through all the pictures I’ve collected in 2014 and sifted and sorted to find photo’s that sparked a special memory or spoke to a new style. These aren’t necessarily my best pictures of 2014–although some of them are favorites–but they each tell a story.
They tell stories of courage, travels, new friends, exploration and beginnings.
…and the treats accumulate!
It’s been a whirlwind of life changes over the past few months. I graduated from Western Washington University, guided and photographed for Rustic Pathways in Peru for the summer (blog posts to come!), returned to Bellingham, Washington to grab my belongings, catch up with friends, and try to buy a car, then rolled over to Paonia, Colorado to work for High Country News as their new Associate Designer.
Halloween and the start of a new month seemed like perfect timing to show off some pictures. I captured the antics of trick-or-treating in a small town, which I remember fondly from childhood. The night progressed from little toddlers shuffling up to doorways, with their parents in tow, to pre-teens crashing through fallen leaves to knock on as many front doors as possible and collect as much candy as they could. My 8-year-old friend Ellie gave me the “in” and let me trick-or-treat with her while I took pictures of the holiday tradition.
I had the privilege to be in a class (The Science and Management of Contaminated Sites) that explored the relationship between science and media during my last quarter at college. The class prepared graduating toxicologists and journalists for the important work of talking about science to the general public. With a dream team of a toxicologist, a writer, and me (the visual journalist), we created a documentary about activated carbon, an emerging sediment cleanup technology, and reported on a lab group studying the effectiveness of activated carbon under a variety of environmental conditions.
I spent a ton of time with the lab group documenting their progress and learning about the experiment they designed. Unfortunately not all environmental science can be done outside, so I had to make sure I could portray the lab environment in a variety of ways.
Dance has been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. Expressing music artistically through my body is both exhilarating and meditative. I dance to smile, I dance to cry, I dance to love.
I was recently in a performance that featured choreography by the Bachelors of Fine Arts dance students at Western Washington University. The beautiful culmination of their hard work exhibited mastered technique, told fascinating stories, and made the audience laugh as well as stare in captivation. I was able to photograph the performance during dress rehearsal as well as backstage. These are some of my favorite performance moments:
*”No Big Deal” was the name of the piece in which I danced.