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Greater Portland Vol. I


I’m pleased to announce my forthcoming softcover edition Greater Portland Volume I. It is currently in production and will be ready to ship in a couple of weeks. Advanced copies are available in my newly launched online shop. The book is 80 pages containing 48 large format images, and 117 iPhone pics covering a large cross section of the city. The first printing will be 100 copies.

I thought I’d share the essay that I wrote for the introduction here. If you’ve read this blog before, or looked that the Kickstarter project that I used to fund the series then parts of the essay will sound familiar. I just took part of what I had written before about the body of work, and added a little to the beginning and end. Here goes…

It is late March and an especially brutal winter is slowly winding down. Filthy remnants of once massive snow banks still occupy curbsides, lawns, and the far corners of parking lots. Their gradual discharge of silt covers the ground and clouds the air with every wind gust. Roadways are littered with cavernous potholes. Buildings that have stood up to the elements season after relentless season are worn and jaded. The entire population is united in anticipation of the spring bloom. It is during this passage out of winter that the city is at its most morose and vulnerable point. If there is one time of year that Greater Portland looses its charm it is now.
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Peak: Evangeline 2013


This past June we had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Nova Scotia on an artist and family residency through Maine College of Art, made possible by the generosity of the Jenny Family. It was the second year in a row that I’d been awarded this opportunity. The work that I made during the first visit became the beginning of something that I needed to develop further, and I am very grateful to the jury for giving me the chance to do so.

Admittedly though, despite going over and over the work in my head for weeks, I arrived on the shore of St Mary’s Bay, NS this year not exactly sure what I was going to do. But I dutifully got up before dawn the first morning and pulled out of the driveway with no particular destination. Pointing the car down the Evangeline Trail under a slowly brightening sky, I have to say that I lacked confidence, and was slightly insecure about finding inspiration. I didn’t make any exposures that morning – just drove and looked and thought about where this project was going.

I had some ideas, but no real plan. I didn’t know what I was looking for. My mind kept going back to a conversation I had a few weeks prior over breakfast with John Eide, my former professor, about the impending trip. He said “You got all the easy ones last year. Now you’re going to have to dig deeper.” Those words stayed with me the entire two weeks. Most of the time I wasn’t sure whether I was succeeding or not. Again, I didn’t have a clear picture of what it meant to dig deeper, I just knew I had to do it.

Now it’s a month later, the negatives are scanned and edited, and I am more than satisfied with the results. I did in fact reach a much deeper understanding of the place, and honed in on the narrative that I wanted to weave about the area. And in the process the series became a lot tighter and more profound than the initial group from 2012 alone. Above is a single image from the new batch, and more will be posted here and on my portfolio site soon.

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It seems like every year or two I have to get my creative priorities straight. Following ideas wherever they lead can take me on tangents that shoot off in several different directions. I spread myself too thin and then get stressed out trying to keep all the balls in the air. I consider myself to be foremost a photographer. However, side projects have a habit of redirecting my attention.

For the better part of the last two years I spent most of my free time designing and making a line of wooden toys. In the past decade I’ve also used valuable time collecting and framing vintage prints, shooting/editing film and video, and brief as well as extended escapes into surfing. Because no matter how hokey it sounds, surfing is a creative outlet. Riding waves has a way of satisfying the need to create. It’s very fulfilling, except that you come away with nothing to show or leave behind, and that is a problem for me. Read More »

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The Cure for Cabin Fever


It’s late February and the walls are closing in on me – a common symptom of cabin fever. I’ve been staying in for lunch at work, and spending weekends confined to our home, with only brief ventures into the outside world for weeks on end. The kids are watching too much TV, and littering the house more than ever with scraps from various craft projects. The furnace is diligently humming along, and I’m realizing that you can never fully appreciate time spent outdoors until it’s taken away.

So is there a cure? Even the most avid winter sports enthusiasts can’t be outside as much as they are in the warmer months. The lack of daylight for most of the season and extreme lows during some weeks are enough to get anyone down. It is hard to motivate in the morning when it’s still pitch black at seven am, and no one wants to barbecue under the open sky in single digit temperatures. Not to mention the snow blanketing the ground, forcing us to navigate the world through the small pathways we shovel or plow. The only way to cope is to grab whatever small doses of fresh air you can, and stay occupied the rest of the time to keep from going stir crazy. Read More »

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Parent Teacher


I know public education is a sensitive subject riddled with highly debatable topics. Mirroring society in general, there are huge gaps in equality from district to district. Even within districts the difference of opinions can run extremely hot. This makes it difficult to talk about public schools in the US as a whole. So be aware I make no assumption that my remarks reflect the norm, or apply across the board. My family and I are just very fortunate live in a neighborhood with an elementary school that we love, and I feel like writing about it.

We’re about two thirds of the way through the ’12-’13 school year, and recently we attended the second of three parent teacher conferences. My wife and I look forward to these meetings. It’s a chance to hear directly from the instructor all the information that we can’t pry out of our daughter. Homework gives us clues about the lesson plan each week, but there is a lot that happens in and out of the classroom that doesn’t get relayed.

Kids have this whole other life outside of the home, and even at a young age they do their best to keep the two separate. They barely ever volunteer details about their school day, and direct questions are routinely met with single word answers, or worse – a shrug. When parent teacher conferences come around worlds collide, temporarily erasing that line they work so hard to protect. With that said, I think our daughter enjoys them too. Over the past few years she has come to revel in the opportunity to briefly guide us through her parallel existence and show off the work she makes there. Read More »

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Brown Gold


On the heels of Congress passing an extension for the biodiesel tax credit during their “fiscal cliff” negotiations, I’ve decided to share some of my own thoughts and experiences as a consumer of the alternative fuel.  This law provides biofuel producers with a one dollar per gallon subsidy, which is designed to help grow a very young and vulnerable industry that is working to help lower US dependency on fossil fuels.


Rudolf Diesel completed a working prototype of his compression ignition engine in Germany on August 10, 1897.  It is known to have run on vegetable and peanut based oils, and Diesel promoted the engine as a way for remote colonies to run tractors and generators using crops they grew themselves as a power source.  It was forward thinking genius.  He saw the impermanence of fossil fuel and was outspoken about the subject right at the same time as Standard Oil was building the largest energy monopoly the world would ever see.  After his mysterious disappearance in 1913 the diesel engine was developed to run on petroleum based fuel.  Almost a hundred years and billions of gallons of crude oil later people started to realize that he was onto something. Read More »

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So begins my first post on this site in a new category dedicated to parenting.  It’s a great subject with lots of anecdotal potential, and an opportunity to share insights and insecurities alike.  As a father of two girls, ages seven and three, I’m in deep right now – the majority of my time, energy, and mental capacity being poured into the parental routine.  My wife and I work incredibly hard to provide a safe, comfortable but challenging environment, and the best guidance possible for our children.  We’re tired, we’re broke, and we can barely keep up, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because in all of our collected travels and endeavors we’ve found nothing more rewarding than watching our kids grow.

If you saw me at the grocery store on a Sunday morning, unshaven, with greasy, matted hair, two innocent blue eyed rug rats in tow, one begging for a donut and the other needing an emergency trip to the bathroom, you’d probably smile, maybe suppress a little chuckle.  You may see a disheveled but capable guardian – a common combination among the people I know with young children.  Or, you may see a totally unlikely parent, and truth be told I see myself that way too.  Almost eight years after my wife gave birth to our first child, I still look at my kids from time to time and can’t believe I’m their dad.  Although I have let go of the young carefree adventurer I used to be without regret, there is still a part of my personality that is holding onto that lifestyle and looks in from the outside at the me of today with awe and wonder. Read More »

Howl If You Like Craft Fairs

It’s holiday craft fair season.  Which means studios, basement workshops, and garage factories all over the country are buzzing with activity.  Coffee consumption is up, and hours of sleep are down.  The collective heart rate of makers everywhere is elevated.  In Portland alone there are several large fairs that attract vendors and shoppers from all over New England.  This will be my third year selling.  That makes me still fairly new to the circuit, but I’ve gained some valuable insights along the way.

I like to think of these sales as the modern version of an old world market or bazaar.  The kind of place where villagers would go to buy and trade goods directly from independent merchants and craftspeople.  I like this way of looking at it because I see enormous value in knowing the person who made your best salad bowl or favorite pair of earrings.  But I also see another side of the coin.

When I stop to look around during one of these fairs not only am I happy to see an invigorated crowd of extremely talented and driven individuals connecting with an equally energetic customer base; I’m also a little saddened to observe a frantic group of highly creative people struggling to make a living despite their vigor and resourcefulness.  Spending hundreds of valuable hours building inventory of marketable items rather than art for art’s sake.  To borrow a sentiment from Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl…

I’m watching the most talented and creative minds of my generation being limited by economic hardship, stifled by debt, living month to month, pawning their vitality and artistic freedom to cover 80% interest and 20% principal.

Those who inherently continue making things even when material costs exceed revenue, who don’t always save receipts then at tax time go digging through glove compartments and between seats for anything to write off, who go to sleep dreaming of the time when daycare providers and mortgage banks will stop devouring their entire month’s pay, with holes in their socks rising before dawn to get in a few hours of production before the kids wake up. Admittedly I’m speaking mostly of myself, but I know I’m not alone. Read More »

Made in America, Seventy Dollar Hoodies, and the Bionic Wrench

I took the above photo in the office of an abandoned farm up the road from my work in 2006, and have been sharing it in one way or another for the last few holiday seasons.  It is too late for that farmer, but I have to believe there is still time for the greater economy.  So with “Black Friday” a few days away, and people lining up outside department stores to barge in and spend their hard earned American dollars on foreign made goods, it seems like an appropriate time to pull it from the archives yet again.

I just became aware of a campaign being run by ABC called “Made in America” to promote buying domestically manufactured products during the holiday season.  My wife and I began doing this in 2010 – here is a blog post I wrote to sum up our first year’s effort.  It looks like ABC is in their second year supporting the cause.  According to their numbers if everyone spent $64 on US made goods this season it could create 200,000 new jobs across the country.  I like those statistics, but I see the problem as a lot more complicated than that. Read More »

Beautiful, Ramshackle Portland

I love Portland.  The original Portland – Portland, Maine.  I’m not talking about the social, political, or economic climate of the city, because there is plenty of room for debate in those areas.  But where I think the majority of local residents agree is that the place itself is pretty stunning.

The Portland area is dripping with charm.  Historic European inspired stone, red brick and wood architecture created the city’s signature aesthetic over a century ago.  Over time, just the right combination of harsh winters, economic slow down, and a short building season has coalesced to achieve the beautifully ramshackle urban environment we have now.  Renewal efforts are constantly trying to keep up with decay, not always succeeding.  A dynamic that has given Portland a certain something; captivating the senses of locals and visitors alike. Read More »