There is the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” I find this is something that I have to put into play quite a lot in my life, even more so now that we find ourselves on our ongoing “adventure of a lifetime” roadtrip across this great country of ours. Traveling across the land hauling your life along with you is exciting but as you can imagine, it presents some challenges.
For all the prep and planning we do, life on the road can throw you curve balls when you least expect them and you have to just roll with the punches and see where it takes you. Often times if you look for the positive you will find opportunities will present themselves…. There is nothing I like more than times when you find that you have taken a wrong turn down the “wrong road” or had a issue that waylays you, rather than becoming a problem… it puts you in a place you never expected to be and it turns out to be exactly where you were supposed to be. What I mean by this, is an opportunity or an experience presents itself that you never would have had if it had not been for that problem or mistake you made that got you here. Some call it Kismet or even Destiny. Whatever you call it, if you keep your eyes open you find some pretty cool experiences and photos to be made. See the photo below which I created on the one such incident…
Earlier this fall we were just wrapping up spending the last 6 months bouncing around the Pacific Northwest up and down the coast from Northern California to Canada. Now heading towards Utah, I mistakenly turned East too early and instead of taking an easy cut across the mountains in a valley, ended up on a very narrow, twisty & windy road through the Shasta Trinity Mountain range. This makes for a white knuckle ride when you are pulling a 42 foot rig…. 31,000 lbs of fun as you make your way over hills and around narrow passages. Not only was it a scary drive on it’s own, but the skies were jet black as an impending storm was about to hit. Just when I began to really curse myself, trying to decide if I should turn back or press on through, I decided to pull over next to the river that was following my path just before the skies opened up to dump rain on us.
What I saw when I got out that I could not see while driving, was the view down river to our rear. Here was this AMAZING mountain river location with the most incredible light shining from the clouds and shining through the oncoming rain that was falling. I am lucky that I always try to have my camera ready and I was able to capture this amazing scene as it unfolded before me. The only thing missing was a fly fishermen to complete the scene which I then added in with Photoshop later. It made for a killer book shot and will also no doubt bring in some decent stock sales opportunities down the line. I call this shot, “When a wrong turn puts you exactly where you are supposed to be.”
Another amazing opportunity that came from a bit of misfortune was when we were on our way from Park City Utah, to our March/April homebase of Breckenridge Colorado. About 1/2 way there, in a little nothing town called Meeker CO, we had a mechanical issue with our tow vehicle which forced us to stop. As luck would have it, there was a nice little RV Park just opening for the fishing season right on the river about a mile from where we broke down. After checking in and getting the RV set up we set out to investigate our surroundings. What we found was the little town of Meeker resembled more of a ghost town than anything. It was during dinner that we asked the proprietor what there was to do in this town as we were going to be here a few days… It was then that he mentioned that “every one is out at the dog races” for the weekend.
Turns out he was right because by the time we got finished dinner, the little town was suddenly overtaken by teams of people with their dogs. After talking with some of them I learned that this weekend the final races for the season where taking place about 40 miles away up in the White River National Forest. The exact directions I got from 3 different people were, “Just drive down this road a mile and turn right at ‘the sign’ and follow that road 39 miles until it ends” I thought to myself, “Umm…. Ok. that doesn’t sound weird at all” as I looked on the tiny road to nowhere on the map. So despite any reservations, the very next morning I set off in good faith driving the 40 some miles farther down this tiny road taking me farther and farther from the tiny town of Meeker into the wilderness…. all the while thinking, “this must be some kind of joke”. In actuality it was a very pretty drive….. After about an hour, low and behold the road ended as I had been told and there in the middle of the woods was this mini winter festival of dog sled enthusiasts and about 100 dogs. You knew you were here as you pulled up because of the sound… ALL the dogs are barking! It’s quite exciting walking around and seeing everyone getting ready for the races. I have never seen dogs so excited about getting ready to run. As their handlers get them harnessed up and hitched onto one another they are loosing their minds, barking and tugging at their leashes. They actually have to tie them off to their cars or they would just take off without them. All in all it was quite a cool experience & you won’t find a nicer group of people. Everyone was interested why I was there and who I was shooting for. I got a quick lesson on the happenings of the day and intros to the folks running the show and the Rocky Mountain Dog Sled club. I even met a nice older gentleman named Mike who was having his 70-something birthday that day and heading out on the course racing his dogs. He’d been racing for over 35 years and not about to slow down now.
As I clicked away watching group after group of dogs heading out onto the trail towing their various handlers on sleds and skis, (Skijouring) it struck me yet again how cool this is… here I am stuck in the middle of nowhere with no-one who can even look at my truck until Monday and I find myself with this opportunity to shoot some amazing sled dog races, continue building my book and meet some really great people in the process. Turned out to be a great weekend! I love my job!
So picking up where we left off, our ongoing travels this fall took us all over the Northwest, ranging from the Oregon coast up through Washington State and onward into Canada to Whistler BC. Which brings me to this current post and latest installement into The American Worker Project.
Over the course of several cold mid November days, I had the distinct honor and privilege of working with the brave men and women stationed at the United States Coast Guard Station, Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington. After making contact with the station’s Commanding Officer LCDR Tom Condit, I was invited there to document the hard working members of the motor lifeboat rescue teams that patrol the turbulent waters off Cape Disappointment.
A little bit of history for those who are not familiar with aptly named Cape Disappointment…
Located at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, Cape Disappointment is known as one of the most treacherous and deadly waterways in the western hemisphere. Commonly referred to as “The Graveyard of The Pacific,” the waterways in the area are so turbulent that since their discovery in 1792, well over 2000 shipwrecks have occurred and over 700 lives have been lost. The reason for this, is an occurrence that happens when the large waves emanating offshore from Japan and the Aleutian Islands, charge across the Pacific and collide with the strong currents flowing from the mighty Columbia River, culminating over the bar at the mouth of the river near the jetty. The result is incredibly turbulent water and high surf that is unpredictable and extremely unforgiving.
When someone is in trouble at sea, stranded, alone and taking on water, it is the US Coast Guard who answers the call. They will go out in extremely adverse conditions and lay their lives on the line to rescue those in need. As you can imagine this requires lots of training in often intense and hostile situations, so that they may be prepared to take on this task regardless of the conditions.
As I mentioned above, I had the good fortune of being granted access into this world for a few days to document these hard working and dedicated men and women for my American Worker Project. First off, I have to say what a pleasure and honor it was working with them. As you would expect from any US military unit, their level of professionalism and expertise were unparalleled. During my time with them I was able to go out on onto the high seas several times on the dawn patrol “bar runs” that go out every morning at dawn. The purpose of these runs is to give first hand reports of the conditions on the bar so that they can set any restrictions for the day for all watercraft entering or leaving the cut at the Columbia River. I also got to photograph them working on both their 47 foot and 52 foot motor lifeboats as they did high seas surf training, man overboard rescue training. boat to boat rescues and towing drills.
The most exciting activity of the bunch, hands down was the high seas surf training. I was reminded several times by the crew and Senior officers of how lucky I was to be included in this activity, as it is extremely rare that a civilian is allowed to go out in these conditions with them. It is not something that I took lightly and did my best to capture just a little bit of what it is like for them out on the water.
The experience is amazing! At times it is not unlike being in a huge washing machine as the boats are tossed around like toys by the power of these huge waves. Imagine yourself standing roughly 15 feet off the surface of the water, tethered to the railing atop the upper deck of a 47 foot boat with 5 crew members, looking up at waves that are cresting easily 10 feet higher than you. Your instinct is to want to go the other way, but instead the Surfman who is driving the boat sends us charging toward the wave, tossing the boat up into the air with a wall of water washing over you as you hold on for dear life and then brace for the next wave which comes only 6 – 10 seconds later. Now consider this… the day I was on board for surf training was a relatively tame day for them. While it was a white knuckle ride for me, it was but a fraction of the conditions that they are actually able to handle. Quite an experience to say the least, but all in a day’s work for these folks.
It was decided that I would ride atop the 47’ as it is the “drier” and more stable of the two boats in the 15-20 foot seas that we were about to experience. Plus, this would allow me to get some amazing shots of the 52 foot lifeboat named “Triumph II.” A boat commissioned in the 1960’s and one of four still in service today. This boat has the unique feature of being much heavier, which means instead of riding up and over the waves, it tends to cut through them, resulting in some very dramatic views as you can see from the photos above and below. The boat completely disappears from view, only to punch through like a submarine surfacing. As amazing and treacherous as this seems, it is something this boat is well equipped to do, being that it is designed to operate in winds of up to 70 mph and waves in excess of 32 feet in height.
I imagine it was quite comical to them watching me as I tried to hold on with one hand while attempting to shoot photos with the other hand… all the while bouncing around like a tethered paddle ball, as we experience several G’s when our boat careened over a mountain of water which then proceeded to rain down upon us like a waterfall. Now I like to think of myself as having my sea legs, as I’ve spent a great deal of time on water over my life, but I was definitely being challenged that day. Funny as I may have looked, it was good that I opted not to use my normal surf housing but instead rigged my cameras with splash bags to save on the extra weight. It is a miracle my gear survived in tact, but better to have a lightweight splash bag than something that ends up being more like holding a bowling ball on a roller coaster. In hindsight it was comforting knowing that I was with highly trained professionals and that if something goes too horribly wrong, you can escape out of the surf zone and regroup… but one can only imagine what it must be like going out in a bad storm in seas that are twice as high and not just restricted to one small area, but rather go on relentlessly for hours. To add to that, once you reach the people you are trying to save, it often requires a rescue swimmer going into the cold turbulent waters to pluck them from the sea. Bravery is an understatement. Moreover their sense of pride and dedication in what they do is infectious.
Special thanks go to Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi for helping to connect me to the right people, To Lieutenant Commander Chief Tom Condit, (without his trust and permission I would never have gotten the access needed to create these images) and last but not least Sr. Chief Greenlief and the many other crew members that took me under their wings for a few exciting days on the water.
I have the utmost respect for what they do. They put themselves and their lives at risk daily, doing whatever it takes to keep our waterways and homeland safe. After hanging with them for just a few short days it really brings new meaning to the slogan used for many of the branches of the US military. “So that others may live…”
Well it has once again been a while since my last update from the road… So what have we been up to? Summer came and went by in a flash and it was probably the busiest summer I’ve had in 20 years. Since my last post we have been nonstop with one project after another. The last two months alone I’ve crisscrossed the country from corner to corner multiple times crossing the Mississippi 12 times for various projects. We’ve been to Arizona, California, Maine, North Carolina, Jamaica, Florida twice and back to Oregon on projects for Huffy Bikes, Merck Pharmacueticals, Miami Cancer Institute, Vista Print, High West Whiskey and Alaska Brewing. Most of these projects are still in post production or not yet released to the public so I can’t show them yet, but I’ll post them as soon as I am allowed.
It is hard to believe but it has been a full year since we first left on our journey across the country. It has been a whirlwind trip so far and we have no plans to stop for the foreseeable future. To date we have logged close to 16,000 driving miles and I’ve flown well over 30,000 miles on various jobs that happened over the last year as well. See our Google MyMap to see where we have been.
It’s been the experience of a lifetime…. we have been to some amazing places and met some really great people along the way not to mention shooting a zillion photos. I have to thank my wife for pushing me to do this as if it weren’t for her persistence we never would have left on this trip and the opportunities and projects that have come from it probably never would have happened. My American Worker Project took off with a bang and continues to garner great exposure. Back in July we shot hot air ballooning in Sedona Arizona and most recently I shot in the Firestone Walker Brewery in their wooden barrel aging plant. A few new proposed shoots to continue the project include potential shoots with the US Coastguard training at Cape Disappointment in Washington and also shooting with the brave men and women who fight the wild fires out that have been raging throughout California this summer. We have also been shooting a ton of travel related subjects featuring the many amazing locations we have had the pleasure of visiting.
Some of the best and most epic locations we had the pleasure of visiting included Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Park. We took advantage of all these locations for the High West Whiskey project which is currently in post production and creative stages with the ad agency. I am very excited about the images we have created here and can’t wait to share them with you. For now these teasers from my Instagram will have to do.
As we steam headlong into fall things are continuing to look good as we are being considered for assignments and image uses for various projects for Chase Bank, STP, Fidelity Investments, and Orvis Fishing. Fingers and toes crossed on these as they look to be some really cool projects!
Stay tuned for future adventures as our fall calendar is packed with travel to Washington, up into BC Canada, (around Vancouver up near Whistler) and returning back down through Oregon… With later plans taking us back into California, Utah and Colorado over the winter.
I had the pleasure recently to travel back to Jamaica on an assignment for Vista Print. I always love going to Jamaica. The people there are always so nice. We’ve spent many a month down there traveling to all corners of the map on assignments for Superclubs Resorts, Jamaica Tourism and the like….
This particular assignment was for Vista Print. We were tasked with the mission to go to their international call center and photograph some of their most valued employees for a new customer service oriented campaign. These are the people that man their call centers and are responsible for sales and customer relations and support. Having a call center based in Jamaica is a bit out of the norm these days as most are hosted out of India. The folks that work at this particular call center are a special bunch. They all seem to genuinely love their jobs and it shows in the way they treat their customers. Customer service is job one but it goes beyond that. They have been known to develop ongoing relationships that go beyond what you would expect of even the best customer service employees. One of these fine ladies actually had someone bring her cookies when she was taking a vacation to Jamaica with her family. She tracked her down took time out of her vacation and brought her cookies! Safe to say they are very likeable.
Because of that, and the fact that they provide a quality product a very competitive prices, Vista Print enjoys a large percentage of repeat and loyal customers. The picture shown above is one of the many people we had the privilege of meeting and photographing. Her name is Saju. She had an amazing energy and was so pleased to be a star for a day for us.
So our American Worker Project has been enjoying some very nice Press lately. With articles being posted online on APhotoEditor, The Huffington Post, Creative Boom, American Photography, Popular Photography and The Phoblographer as well as the many news feeds that feed off of each of those publications, it has been garnering lots of attention. Click each of the links above to see the individual articles.
The exposure and response from these articles has been fantastic. More and more people are starting to follow along on Instagram (you can follow here) and the analytics show that traffic on my website and blog have exploded with about 15 times more hits than the normal average. Plus, we have had several requests for the portfolio and a bunch of recent bid requests for a really nice job for a national campaign for a multinational Electronics and Appliance manufacturer and also a campaign for a large investment firm to shoot in California next month. Fingers crossed on these!! 🙂 Thanks to everyone for following along and stay tuned as we have lots more great imagery planned in the months coming…
*Update: We have also just booked great job for a global campaign for a large Pharmaceutical company based on our efforts! Shooting early next month. 🙂 🙂 🙂
As I reflect back on the whirlwind of the last few months I must take a moment to appreciate the view out my side window of my office in the back of our rig. Today we find ourselves just outside of Park City Utah with a killer view of the snow capped Wassatch mountain range right out my side window. It’s the kind of view that makes it hard to get work done as the mountains call to you. Below is an image I made of this view just this morning. Last night as I started writing this blog entry there was a soft pastel blue and pink sunset going on as the remnants of a 3 day storm that left the mountain with just over two feet of fresh powder started to break up and leave the area. The next few days promise to be gorgeous blue bird days… perfect weather for making some great images and harvesting the hidden powder in the back country behind the resorts. But enough about that for now, I’ll get back to the present day later in post #2.
So what have we been up to here in the Barrett camp since Fall? Where do I start? The end of November and first week of December brought a few assignments that had me back in Florida shooting. Because of these assignments and a schedule that required we be back in South FL at a pre determined point, we had to skip over two locations that I really wanted to shoot. One was The Outer Banks in North Carolina and the other was in West Virginia where I was to shoot coal miners for the American Worker Project. A disappointment, but work is work and we’ll just have to circle back around another time to do these shots.
The rest of December and the first half of January was a blur as we found ourselves back in our home base of South Florida. We spent some much needed down time decompressing, visiting friends & family, doing the holiday thing and working in the office doing post production work on all the images I’d shot in the past few months. We also took a few weeks to explore other areas of our home state on the west coast from Naples, up through St Pete and on up to the Panhandle.
At this point our schedule demanded we hit the road as we had many miles and stops to make before getting here to Park City to capture the last months of the snow season. Our first stop was more of a tourist/photo opportunity to visit the underground caverns (who knew Florida had caverns?) and explore the swampy bayou ‘way down yonder by the Chattahoochee’.
From there we spent a little over a week in the Big Easy… New Orleans, LA. By then it was the beginnings of Mardi Gras so as you can imagine the town was abustle with tons of activity. Parades happening daily all over the city and people having a great time celebrating. I made some great connections to shoot through some contacts at Peter Mayer Advertising, who I had recently worked with, and also through the local tourism office. New Orleans is a hot bed of creative artists and craftsmen and I jumped at the opportunity to shoot several of them for my American Worker Series (I’ve posted a few teasers from these 4 shoots here but I will be posting the real images soon!!) We shot with Alex Gernier of Doorman Designs. Alex makes furniture using reclaimed wood from the old houses of New Orleans destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Next came a shoot with Ben Dombey who is a glass blower who hand blows these amazing glass drinking glasses. Each of them are unique in their own individual way and custom embossed with locally inspired items stamped in the base. See Ben’s work here. I also got the opportunity to shoot with Patti Dunn of Tchoup Industries. Patti and her partner make these amazing hand made bags and backpacks. You can visit her shop here to see their work. While wandering through the French Quarter one day, I stumbled upon the coolest little shop, (The Bevolo Gas & Electric Light Museum) where they hand make old fashion style gas lanterns. I talked to two of the craftsmen as they were building their lamps and ended up shooting them for my project as well.
We wrapped up our Louisiana leg with a quick trip to Oak Alley Plantation. Oak Alley is an old cotton plantation rich with history. Once run completely by slave labor, Oak Alley is still a working farm today but the home is historical landmark and run as a museum. You may have seen it in several movies.
From here we set out through Texas, New Mexico, into Arizona and then on to Utah. But that is a story for another evening…. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Winter/Spring update from the road coming in a few days!!
Update from the Barrett camp…
Well we’ve been at it about almost 2 months and it seems like a blur. I have been non stop shooting one project after another. We’ve been so busy I have not had time to update this blog but will be adding new stuff soon. If you’ve been following along on Facebook or Instagram you have no doubt seen my steady stream of teaser iPhone photos. This upcoming week I am actually trying to schedule some down time to work on processing, finishing work and color grading on a backlog of finished shots and will be posting them to my blog and as well to the various social media channels soon. We also have a ton of video that hopefully will make it to the editor in the coming month to expand my reel.
Just a quick recap of where we’ve been and what I’ve been shooting. We started our journey by heading to Maine to shoot in the remaining nice fall weather. Immediate plans have had me shooting everything from flyfishing with fishing guide Mike Guarino of Maine Wilderness Tours in the Kennebec River for Maine Tourism type stuff, Shooting on a freezing 28 degree day on a lobster boat, the “F/V Pud Lee” with Captain Patrick and his sister Sharlene Grant, a couple of hard working Lobster Fishermen. I also spent several days shooting a reportage documentary style people shoot in the saw mill at Hammond Lumber in Belgrade Maine, shooting both stills and video. This project also marks the start of a series that I am working on called “The American Worker Project” where we will be shooting real people in real jobs all over the country. Very Heart of America kind of stuff. It’s a great opportunity to get out an meet new people and shoot some killer new stuff for the books. It also doesn’t hurt that this type of work is in very high demand right now and is great for getting all sorts of clients.
After leaving Maine, we headed south to Boston to take a few days showing the portfolios to some ad agency clients. I also had the opportunity to shoot Sid Abbruzzi who is the owner of WaterBoys in Newport Rhode Island which is the oldest surf shop in New England. Sid is also about to be inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame and is a really great guy with a million stories to tell about the interesting life he has lead. I also shot some neat stuff of some guys working in a motorcycle shop for the American Worker Project. While I was busy shooting. The rest of the family got to explore Boston and learn about the history of our country touring the Freedom trail and other cool stuff.
From there we found ourselves in New York City for 5 days. I had a quick editorial job to shoot and spent the rest of the time doing personal work, street shooting and hitting a few of the iconic NY spots with the family.
This last week as you’ve seen has been spent in Lancaster County in MidWestern Pennsylvania shooting Amish Country and some really cool old steam trains. Which brings me to the present… Suffice to say, it feels like a whirlwind so far. What an awesome trip for all of us.
Tomorrow we head towards Philly and I shift into post production mode for a few days as I literally have tens of thousands of images to be edited. Thursday is a much needed down day as we stuff ourselves on Turkey day visiting Deirdre’s side of the family in Southern New Jersey.
Speaking of stuffed…. Our calendar for the next 30 days does not have a free day on it. What we have scheduled for the next month makes what we have done so far look like a stroll in the park. Many miles ahead of us as we zigzag through the the entire Southeastern seaboard. Some of the travel is part of the various RV road trip photo projects and, oh yeah, I actually have a couple pretty decent ad jobs that I am scheduled to to fly out for as well. All this before a much needed Christmas break down in Naples FL.
But that is a story for another night….
Please stay tuned for more installments… Thanks for all the “Likes” and great comments, keep them coming and please feel free to share with your friends. If you have not done so already, Please follow me on Instagram @PeteBarrettPhoto as I am steadily growing my following there as well.
Until next time….
All sorts of new and exciting things happening in the Barrett Camp these days! We have been busier than ever with a new extended ongoing travel project. Some of you may already be following us on our adventure, via Facebook and Instagram (follow me on Instagram @petebarrettphoto) but for the rest of you that don’t yet know, here’s what we’re up to…
It’s no secret that I love to travel and I am fortunate that I have a great career that very often finds me traveling to shoot photos for great clients all across the country as well as elsewhere in the world. My wife also shares that passion for travel and several years ago she planted the seed for an idea of getting an RV and traveling all over the country with the family. Something everyone would love to do at one point in their lives but for someone with a busy career and a family, it seemed like a “pie in the sky” idea to me at first. I have to credit her with being persistent and the more I considered it the more it started sounding not only do-able but also an amazing opportunity to shoot a TON of new work all over the country which also goes a long way toward giving me new and exciting things to promote for new upcoming assignment work.
Well it’s nearing the end of summer again and once again we found ourselves in Maine. The place where we go every year for a few months to get away from the heat of Florida… It’s an amazing place where time seems to stand still and memories last a lifetime. Last year was the first year that my son Jordan first started to “get it” and really start to be able to appreciate all the wonderful things about my home town of Belgrade Lakes. This year was even better than last. Countless hours spent on the lakes, hiking on mountain trails, boating, swimming, camping, fishing and catching everything from crabs to frogs to mud puppies. Here are just a few photos of Jordan doing the things that all little boys love to do in Maine on their summer breaks.
We recently had the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa for two weeks of shooting and exploration. Shot tons of new stuff for the portfolios, visited a few ad agencies to show the work, did a quick assignment and lots of exploring. What a great trip! If you have never been to South Africa, I highly recommend it. It is an amazing place. South Africa is a place that is area that is unique unto itself… far off from the areas where you venture off on safaris. The people are great and the landscapes are amazing.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that travel always stirs my creativity. Nothing like going to far off places and exploring and shooting things that are different from your day to day life or surroundings. Driving on the opposite side of the road with a stick shift on the wrong side of the car is always an adventure. Wandering around and finding penguins on Boulders Beach, Baboons wandering the streets by Misty Cliffs and South of the lighthouse in Kommetije. Watching the surfers paddle longboards in overhead swell at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg on the Indian Ocean. Finding 19th on Main in Kalk Bay and all you can eat curry… yum! Climbing Table Mountain and watching as the weather goes from amazing sunset to socked in white out in a matter of minutes leaving you in a place that feels more like Iceland than South Africa. A short drive outside of downtown Cape Town and you are in Stellenbosh, heart of SA’s wine country. Just an amazing place full of diversity and many cultural influences.
Much of what we shot on this trip were wide landscape shots along with elements to add in objects and people later primarily for stock and the portfolio.
Here are a few teaser images of these places. We will be adding in additional structural elements later to give a place to ground talent within the shots.