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“We Are Not Amused”


This is an altered version of the original photo I took of a bicycle stranded in the Spokane River.

On Friday morning I was walking with Frank Zafiro, a Spokane author, about the locations that inspired moments in his books. We arrived at the Post Street Bridge to talk about its use in Beneath a Weeping Sky. I looked over the edge, down toward the Spokane river and that’s when I saw a bike sticking out of the water.

My inner photographer screamed out to take a photo, so I did. I brought it back to the station where I wrote a light-hearted “moment” about how, why and when it got there. I even contemplated its future. At the end of the 5 p.m. newscast, to keep the conversation going, I posted it on Facebook.

And oh, the conversation continue.

Apparently, there are some people in this world that do not enjoy a casual moment on Facebook. There were some who appreciated the humor and savored the story for what it was, just a light-hearted piece. Others thought it was not newsworthy. They’re right. It was not. Does that mean we can’t post locally relevant photo driven stories? What about all those sunsets and sunrises that viewers and readers go nuts over? I’d think those go in the same category.

One person hated it so much they recommended we make up the news because the “meth heads won’t know the difference”.

Other readers were quick to present the opposite opinion. One reader said it reminded her of home in Amsterdam, the bike-in-the-canal capital of the world.

Some wondered if it was their own bike. Some said that an effort should be made to rescue it. Some said it was better than hearing about war and death.

This begs the question, what do viewers and readers really want to hear? They’re quick to offer comment about a story they don’t like, but when there is real good happening they ignore it. They’d rather be aghast then proud.

It’s the nature of the beast.

Learning To Say “May I” For Photo Shoots

Front and center is the Parkade parking tower, a well-known image in the Spokane skyline. The Riverfront Park clock tower sticks out along the river. Mt. Spokane is a popular sight for business employees in the Bank of America Financial Center upper floors.

A lot of people ask me how I gain access to unusual places for photography. Whether it’s hospital helicopter pads or missile silos, there’s a common theme behind each location – I ask.

Asking permission sounds scary at first. What if they say no? Is it a stupid request? The individual you’re asking might act a little off at first, but only because this is a rare question sent in their direction. In my experience, they’ve always said yes.

There are conditions. In some situations, you may need to be escorted around. When this happens, I keep my stay short and sweet. I know exactly what I’m doing when I go in. I don’t want to waste any one’s precious time. I’m courteous to those who are willing to show me around because I’m on their turf.

This was the situation for visiting the Bank of America Financial Center Wednesday morning. With permission from the property owners of the building, a security guard escorted me to the rooftop where I proceeded to take some shots of the surrounding downtown area. It took fifteen minutes max.

Read More: Photo Gallery: Great Views of Spokane

There was paper work involved. With locations like this, sometimes they may supply you with a liability waiver. This is for worst case scenarios. A lot of things could go wrong twenty floors high. They have a yellow line marking the boundary from the rooftop ledge for a reason.

Share: I’m interested to know your experience for photography on private property. How did you gain access or were you rejected?

I’m a Photographer, Not a Whatchamacallit

While I’ve never experienced anti-photography motivated interaction in Spokane, I recall the moment I stepped off a train in Washington D.C. in 2009.

I was on my way to my over-night stay with Twitter friends. I was about to enter a cross walk when across the street I spotted three men folding a flag from the flagpole outside the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives. Abbreviated as ATF, originally they didn’t handle explosives until after 9/11. I thought men folding a flag would make for a great photo. I whipped out my camera, aimed… and next thing I know those men are running at me and I’m just a 22-year-old squeaking in shock.

Apparently, I can’t take a picture of men folding a flag directly in front of the ATF building. Oh, wait. Actually I can. (Well, now I can.) Public place? Fair game. Why? If I couldn’t, it wouldn’t be constitutional.

In 2010, the United States District Court, Southern District of New York supported photographer and journalist, Antonio Musumeci in his action to photograph a federal building from a public place.

Under the settlement, announced Monday by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Federal Protective Service said that it would inform its officers and employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces” and remind them that “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography by individuals from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local rule, regulation or order.” – (Read more at The New York Times)

My situation happened in 2009, but if it had happened after this court case, those three men folding a flag outside the ATF building would have had to sit tight and let me do that photography thing I do.

In London, a group called “I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist” are battling counter-terrorism measures that would allow senior police officers to authorize a time and geographically limited power for officers to stop and search individuals without suspicious that an act of terrorism will take place. A launch party for this organization resulted in this pamphlet [.PDF] that describes the history of photography rights violations and what they’re doing in future to project rights.

ACLU has provided an updated list of photographer rights that includes the 2010 change of including federal buildings.

When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society. - (Read more at the ACLU)

As for that picture I took outside the ATF building, for the life of me I have no idea where it went. [Insert government conspiracy here]



2nd Annual Creative Spaces, Part 2 of 2

The final installment of creative spaces is upon us, Comrades. These are a selection of a few Twitter users that graciously agreed to let me in their space to show the world just how messy (or neat) their desk is. I picked a vast choice of individuals from stay-at-home fathers kicking off their photography business or the guy that’s been sending you those lightbulbs in the mail. You’ve seen them on Twitter. You may follow them. They may follow you. Here they are:

@TeresaIde - Destination Marketing Coordinator
Teresa Ide – Destination Marketing Coordinator, Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

“For me, nothing defines a person better than by the places they’ve been to and the things they’ve seen and experienced. My work space is filled with lots of photos and silly knickknacks from countries I’ve visited around the world. And working in the tourism industry, it’s literally my job to encourage other people to travel. How great is that!? And when I’m in need of a little pick-me-up at work, I’ll look through my photos and let my mind wander back to the time I fed elephants in Thailand, painted a school for orphans in India and sipped local wine in a Guatemalan village. These memories fuel my passion for travel and help me get other people fired up about experiencing cool, new places.”

Follow via Twitter: @TeresaIde

@HucksOnline - Columnist/Blogger

Dave Oliveria – Columnist/Blogger, Spokesman-Review (North Idaho Bureau)

“I enjoy being surrounded by remembrances of some 41 years as a professional journalist, as well as toys and other conversation pieces. Mebbe it’s the kid that’s still lurking somewhere within. My workplace makes me smile. It’s orderly, yet jammed with fun things that I enjoy discussing with visitors. My home office is similar, possibly more jammed, because it’s a little smaller. One of these days I’ll have to count how many Huckleberry Hounds that I have in my office. I’d guess about 15.”

Follow via Twitter: @HucksOnline

@ErickDoxey - Photographer/Stay-at-Home Dad

Erick Doxey – Photographer/Stay-at-Home Dad, Self-Employed

“Working from home is a new concept to me, so it’s taken time to find out what works for me and what doesn’t. I quickly figured out that ‘work flows’ are ever-changing when it comes to raising a newborn child for the first time, so setting up permanent areas is a futile effort. Luckily, I’ve started my new photography endeavor, which has allowed me to create a little ‘pocket of stability’ within the chaos. ironically, since that is a new concept to me as well, it too is constantly changing while I figure out what best works when working on photos at home.”

Follow via Twitter: @ErickDoxey & @ClarkDoxey

@Dan_at_Avista - Communications Manager

Dan Kolbet – Communications Manager, Avista Utilities, Mission Campus

“My desk sits at the intersection of five hallways, so often the nearby traffic and sound flow directs my work flow. All the cubes in Corporate Communications are open to each other. We like it that way. It’s so much easier to discuss an idea or get an opinion when we’re all living in the same world. That’s not to say I don’t have a nice set of earplugs in my desk drawer, though. Since I do employee communications and social media (among other things), I can get away from my desk pretty easily to see what’s happening around our three state service territory – that’s enjoyable and one way I’m helping customers and employees stay in the know about Avista. But when I’m at my desk I’m pretty much head down, jumping from one project to another.”

Follow via Twitter: @Dan_at_Avista & @DanKolbet

@JonBSnyder - City Councilman District 2, Position 2

Jon Snyder – City Councilman District 2, Position 2, City of Spokane

“My office is kind of set up to not allow me to be terribly comfortable there. The weird paradox of public service is that the more time I spend there the less I seem to get done. I find I am more effective if I am out in the community meeting with people and working on policy. My office is kind of pitstop between City meetings for me. My offices keeps me moving–that’s my workflow!” (See another photo of his office.)

Follow via Twitter: @JonBSnyder

Previous Creative Spaces:

2nd Annual Creative Spaces, Part 1 of 2

As planned once per year, I examine the office spaces of regional Twitter users. You may recognize the names. For some, adding a face to that Twitter handle is a first and perhaps a surprise. It’s even a bigger surprise when you learn they’re more a neat-freak than you anticipated. Either that, they really cleaned up their desk before they were photographed. After all, some of these individuals represent some of the biggest Spokane company names including Greater Spokane Incorporated, STCU and more. Others were photographed, but they will be revealed… all in good time. Each year the list changes, as does the rise and fall of regional Twitter users. Here’s this week’s featured five with some quick thoughts about their space, straight from the horse’s mouth. Unedited and raw.

@LKissler - New Media & Marketing OfficerLance Kissler – New Media & Marketing Officer, STCU

“Although I have mobile tools to manage much of my workflow while I am out of the office, the interaction I have with my team mates and others in the credit union occur either in my office area or nearby. Thus, I spend a decent amount of my day in my workspace, but always look for opportunities to visit those of my colleagues, as well as get out into the community (such as events or offsite meetings for a scenery change). Overall, I am very happy with my workspace. My coworkers have made it a comfortable “home away from home” for me, so that I enjoy coming into work on a daily basis.”

Follow via Twitter: @LKISSLER & @STCU & @SOMEPRTIPS

@K_Dudley - Marketing & Communications Coordinator Kevin Dudley – Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Greater Spokane Incorporated

“Our office space is set up so those that work closest can easily communicate with each other. If we were all in individual offices, we’d all be in little boxes and more isolated than we think. My individual space always has the last few issues of the Journal of Business present. That publication is essential because I need to know what’s going on in the business world in and around Spokane. My two monitors are a life and productivity saver. Sometimes, I wish I had three.”

Follow via Twitter: @K_DUDLEY & @GREATERSPOKANE

@AllyShoshana - Communications Manager Ally Shoshanna – Communications Manager, Design Spike

“It randomly confuses me and keeps me productive. Depends on the distractions and the paperwork.”


@VeraciSpokane - Pizza Maker Extraordinaire  Laura and Seth Carey – Pizza Maker Extrordinaires, Veraci Pizza

“Being outside while we work can either have a positive or negative effect on our production depending on the weather. When its raining its wet, and when its hot, we’re standing next to a 1000 degree oven. We have truly enjoyed being mobile and getting to know three different communities at the Farmers Markets we are at each week. In that way our workspace is truly unique in that the scenery and crowd changes often.”

Follow via Twitter: @VERACISPOKANE

@SpoCool - Blogger Remi André – Blogger, SpoCool

“Creative food can feed creative senses, and Latah Bistro has been a particular favorite location for planning many of our contests. The laid-back,intimate atmosphere lends itself perfectly for conversation, and the food is delicious.”

Follow via Twitter: @SPOCOOL

Previous Creative Spaces:

The Liberty Belle’s Last Flight

Photo Credit: WGN-TV

The Liberty Belle B-17 Bomber, that I had spent years photographing each time it came into Spokane, crash landed near Chicago this morning. It burned in a field four miles southeast of Aurora Municipal Airport. The pilot had reported an engine fire so he brought it down in a cornfield near Highway 71 and Minkler Road. All seven people on board made it off the plane.

The Liberty Belle was built in 1944 and restored in 1992 for the Liberty Foundation [website is down as of 9:45 a.m.]. It toured the United States annually and once a year would land at Felts Field for a weekend of tour and flights. You would have seen it flying low, with gusto in 2010 and 2009. UPDATE: It was not the same one here during the first weekend of June. I can only describe the take-off of the plane as a roar and then you’re lifted into the sky.

From the look of the photo above, I can only assume the plane is a total loss. Hanging above my desk is one of the photos I took of the plane in 2009. Now when I look up, I’ll remember that it no longer exists. Below are photos I’ve taken of the plane over the past few years.


Taken at Felts Field - May 2009


Taken at Felts Field - May 2010


Taken at Felts Field - May 2010 - Former KXLY-TV news anchor, Dave Erickson, can be seen inside the nose taping a news package.

Paulayna, a Portrait Session

Portrait sessions might be my favorite thing in the world. Especially when they’re with two friends that make me laugh and are not afraid to open up to me. Fear is the biggest hindrance to portrait photography. Fear is what produces your run of the mill senior portrait with the toothy smile resting on the fist. I entered the home of my latest subjects and that environment brought the best out for everyone to see.

The Furry Tractor

Not gonna lie though, they’re a little strange. The first thing they did was a position called, the Furry Tractor. I would say that was the moment where everything became weird… in a good way. We got to the bottom of who this couple was, what made them tick and why they obviously adore each other. This was a dream portrait session that laid everything on the table.
"Oh hai, Mom!"

You can tell by the environment that this couple lives for the unusual. Every wall has unpredictable art including artless frames. Every piece of furniture probably sat in five previous owner’s residence. The boyfriend is okay with wearing pajamas tops with their girlfriend’s red scarf, while the lady is very okay with letting him mount her… for a piggy back ride. I hope for more portrait sessions like this.


If you know of two individuals who are crazy for each other and the lime light, let me know. I want to take their picture.


Let’s Go to the Hop!

Saturday night, I went to a metal concert at The Hop. Back story: I used to go to metal concerts all the time when I was a wee lass. I have fond memories of the Old Redmond Fire House. Continuing with Saturday night. I got there only to realize I was short on cash. I needed $3. I furrowed my eyebrows, looked at the door man and panicked. Next thing I know, I turned around and cried to the crowd, “Does anyone want a portrait for $3?” Somebody in the back moaned, “I don’t have $3…” The door man took me up on the offer and let me take his photo in exchange for entrance. And then… I got in. Welcome to Day 3 of The Hop’s Grand Opening.

Instead of going into a detailed review of The Hop as a liberation of Spokane venues and spewing what’s wrong with the music scene here in town, I’m going to get right to the point and tell you why I went. Photography. Is The Hop a practical venue for photography? Yes. It has everything going for it. Diverse backdrops, base lighting and movement. I’ll go through each subject and describe why it succeeds at each plus and how it could be better.

Diverse Backdrops:

There’s nothing that screams Spokane quite like brick. It’s everywhere. In our buildings and under our streets. It’s a natural building tool that doesn’t need to be painted or adorned with artwork to make it look nice. On its own, it’s gritty, bright and textured. In the main performance room, it’s the main backdrop. The greatest design offender in the room is the item found in both the Hop’s former and current identity. The stage sign. It reflects light poorly and its inability to lay flat on the wall creates awkward shadows. Suggestion: Paint the logo on the back wall minus the address with non-glossy paint. Maybe paste a collage of concert photos surrounding it?

The rest of the venue is diverse with red embossed plumage upstairs to blue tile in the bathrooms. According to The Hop owner, Thomas Chavez, the old Cretin Hop bathrooms were gross, but now that they’re tile, he expects they’ll be much nicer. I didn’t walk inside, but from outside, they do look rather inviting. In other portions of the venue, like the upstairs and main door entrance, the walls are yellow. Because of the diversity, it is important to shoot in RAW so you can edit the white balance later on. The yellow room is not going to look the same as the brick room.

Base Lighting:

The venue is a photographer’s dream for lighting. There’s just enough that you don’t need to pump your ISO up to 502,359,027,350,973. This is a lesson other venues in town need to learn. ISO 400-600 worked just nicely in this venue. When you’re upstairs, it’s easy to bounce your external flash behind you to get smooth lighting over your subject. While you’re on the stage floor, shooting your light straight up seems to be the only viable option. When shooting the stage area, one issue that you’ll run into is that your subjects are always one-dimensional. The images you take of them will never be that strong. Suggestion: Create a standard three-point setup. Back light the bands to create more dimension. I’d even throw a  bastard amber or two on the key light. When I was there, the stage lights were not on. The bands were lit with the grid lighting in the audience area. So far this venue is showing a lot of promise to cease headaches with local concert photography.


Metal bands are known for their thrashing about. The Hop is known for metal bands. One thing you can always rely on, your photos will have movement. You have two choices: You can capture the freeze frame moment with your flash like above. Or you can turn that baby off and get the blurred action like above above. It’s entirely up to you. You have to be careful not to turn your shutter speed down so low, that you’ll just capture a ghost of a person with no distinguishing actions. I made that mistake when the lead singer of Faus jumped off the stage and started throwing a drum around. Suggestion: There is nothing the venue can do to help you photograph movements. Simply pick your top three settings that you think you’ll use at a venue and be ready to flip between those settings at a moment’s notice. This is where your custom settings (C1, C2 & C3) come in handy.

I’m excited to see where The Hop goes with this multi-functional venue. I hear they have plans for more intimate concerts, acoustic perhaps? I didn’t feel hassled as a customer. The staff was pleasant and the concert-goers were friendly. The bar and restaurant licensing, the recording capabilities… It’s the best Spokane can ask for at this time.

On another note, I’d love to see a local band cover this song: Let’s Go to The Hop!

- The Hop just created their Facebook Page!

Steamy Ideas of Grandeur

I’ve never been much of an auditory person which is surprising due to my interest in music. I see music, I don’t hear it. (Which explains my ability to sight-read music for piano and my inability to play by ear.) It produces the movie in my mind that goes frame by frame. During my college days while learning the theatrical arts, I was known for picking the right music for the right moment. The real secret to my success: instrumental minimalism produces the images that you want it to produce. If you think it will go well with morning fog in a meadow, then it will. If you think it will go well with the wind in your hair on the Palouse, it will.

Music inspired this photo shoot.  I was driving over the Columbia River and Laura Marling was singing I Speak Because I Can to me alone. I saw this image in my mind. In a moment of panic, I called Taylor Weech and told her what I saw. She probably thought I was off my rocker, but a little crazy never hurt anybody. I saw a man either dressing or undressing his shirt. I saw a woman sleeping. And I saw mirrors… so many mirrors!

I arrived back in Spokane and I made it happen. I found a man. I found some mirrors. I redesigned my bedroom to have that “look”. I also threw all my junk in the closet, but that’s another story for another time. It may look like a normal bedroom, but its amazing what turning a bed and two night stands a couple of degrees will do to an image. I thank Terry Converse for that one.

Late one evening, my models showed up at my door, nervous, not knowing what to expect. I hyped it up to be this rather sexy endeavor. The finished product was rather melancholy, not the steamy idea of grandeur we all had running through our heads. In every inch of this photo, there was something to be said.

A week later, after the success of my first art show, I wonder what else I can do with this idea. What other scenes can I create? The writer, the director, the designer is dying to break out.

- See the Photos: Photo #1 & Photo #2

- Michael Reid, the man in the photos above was recently featured in The Inlander’s article of The Inland Northwest’s Sexiest People.

- Facebook: Blush Response Photography

“How was Arizona, Nicole?”

No idea. I spent my entire time on an Indian reservation in the middle of a desert. I did see some cactus’ though! They’re tall and rather… prickly. Their proper name was the Saguaro Cactus. It takes 100-years plus to grow a certain height.

As a foreigner to these desert lands, I learned that cactus are kind of a big deal. They name their streets after them. They decorate them with Christmas lights. Oh, and they police them. Vandalizing a cactus is called cactus plugging. I don’t know about you, but anything with cactus and suspicious behavior seems to always end in tears. Example: The Grundman Incident & “Couple Run From Police and Into a Patch of… Cactus”.

I traveled to Arizona with Silver Auctions for their latest auction at Fort McDowell Casino & Resort. I’ve seen my fair share of classic cars to last me a few months. Under the wings of a former Idaho State Patrol Officer, I learned a thing or two about cars. Specifically: VIN Plates. Just by looking at a car, I could probably tell you where the VIN plate is located and judging by the screws on the plate, I can tell you if its original (round screws) or it’s been replaced (rosette screws). These were life skills that could last me a lifetime.

On my way home, I realized that this trip was way too smooth. On these kind of trips something strange ALWAYS happens to me. Since we were flying over Oregon, I knew I only had an hour or so for that strange incident to occur. Knowing my luck, it would be any second in the form of… well I wasn’t sure. I turned the volume up on my iPhone so David Bowie’s sweet sweet voice could calm my nerves. That’s when it happened. It came in the form of an on-board snack. Or the lack thereof. I was handed a bag of “Plane Crackers” (pun intended). There were no crackers.

It was a bag of air. Oh, the humanity.



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