Nicks Custom Boots sends us new products as they are developed to be photographed for their website and other sales efforts. They are very high quality custom made boots which makes them great to photograph. Nicks is a great Spokane success story- a small business that is growing and selling internationally driven by good management and mostly superb product quality. The craftsmen who make these are uncommon in their skills and are astonishing to watch work, as I have. To turn big sheets of heavy leather into these is something to behold. After photographing many shoes and boots for several years, the owner was kind enough to get both me and my assistant each a pair of boots at nominal cost. Nicks is moving from a very cramped legacy factory to new quarters as we speak which will be more efficient, more pleasant for the staff, and accommodate the growth they are experiencing. 

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Images of Keyboard Cat and France video production

Chris and I spent a long morning at Charlie Schmidt's art studio making still images of a video production with Charlie and "Keyboard Cat" ("Bento"), being done for a widely viewed european television network. The production team, frenchmen Malo and Pierre, were the video crew. "Sept a Huit", a popular news show like our "60 minutes", will be doing, according to Malo, fifteen to twenty minutes on Charlie and his "Keyboard Cat" - the hugely famous internet meme. We shot production stills, watched the french guys smoke cigarettes, Charlie play, and tried to stay out of the way. 

Gary Kaemmer, artist, is a relative of mine who, upon retirement from a successful career as a design agency and illustrator in Denver, Colorado, moved to East Hope on the north shore of Pend Oreille Lake. This is a guy who is past 80 years old now who goes to a small art studio he built next to his home every day, regular working hours, and does art. No phone, no TV, just art, all day, all week. Just because he loves it. Kind of a Renaissance man, he can use just about any medium (oils, acrylics, watercolor, sculpture, charcoal, pastels, scratchboard, graphite...) and does it all very well. Back in the 1960's he helped his brother, a founder of Vail Colorado, to promote the winter resort with a large poster. Maybe ten years ago, Gary found a faded, folded copy of the poster in his archives and he asked me to copy it, clean it up, and make a print of it. The original art was long gone. This turned out to be a considerable job- I copied it in three sections to gain resolution, then stitched those pieces together, then had to correct all of the flaws of a 1960's press run further abused by the ravages of time. Yellowed paper, all of the hundreds of printer's gremlins, the creases and folds and scratches. The large black "VAIL" title font was unusable (not real sharp, not real black and full of spots) and I rebuilt it from scratch. I then made a print at approximately the original size on a beautiful Somerset Velvet watercolor paper and it looked great (after lots of color management). Gary framed and matted it carefully, crated and shipped it to his brother Johnny, who placed it in the window of a small toy store he still has (after a career of several very successful restaurants in Vail). They began to sell right away, and for a good price. This has gone on for several years and I am always surprised when he calls me for five or ten more prints. At this point he has sold many dozens of them and they continue to sell from that one display print. As a retired artist, it helps his budget a lot and I make a few dollars too.

A friend of Chris, studio assistant, asked if we had any utility "lineman" images. As I have done a great deal of work in the utility/industrial areas, we showed her what we have.  After looking at stock images all over the internet she chose one of ours. Her significant other is a lineman and she wanted it for him, and to show what it was he did on the job. We went over matting and framing with her, made the print, and finished it out, complete with hardware and now resides in their home.

lineman working sunset

Digital Dealer Magazine called us, based on our website, to photograph our local BMW dealership's manager Mel Watson. Digital Dealer is largely an on-line publication with a moderate print press-run. They needed a magazine cover and an inside story intro image. This fellow has some very good ideas about car dealerships and he was interviewed about all of that for the cover story. Mel is a very likable, easygoing, heads-up person and I can see why he's been successful. When we submitted the gallery to the editor, Linda Fisher, she wrote back to say "I’m thrilled with the results of the photoshoot. This will be one of our favorite covers. Thank you so much! GREAT JOB!"

You can't ask for more than that. Well, you can, but they even paid right away. If you would like to read the article check it out here: http://www.digitaldealer.com/interview-mel-watson-general-manager-bmw-spokane/

Mobil Oil asked us to photograph a visit to Spokane by baseball player Steve Garvey. We photographed a reception for him at "North 40" store and at the Indians Baseball field before and during a game. He is a very nice, easygoing, and considerate guy.  He signed hundreds of baseballs, mitts, brochures, bats and anything people brought. Avista Stadium is also one of Spokane's under-appreciated gems. What a great little ball park.

GGP (General Growth Properties, Inc.) arranged with J. Craig Sweat Photography to do before and after architectural photography of their NorthTown property as they go about a major renovation update, particularly to the North quadrant of the shopping center. I've always liked NorthTown because I grew up across Franklin Park from there and, as kids, we used to walk over there and have all sorts of adventures. (Karmelcorn!). It is surely the oldest shopping center in Spokane and was already going strong in the 1960's, when we lived nearby.

Below are some before and after images of the completed project.

A while ago, we (my wife Ann and I) came back from three weeks in France. It was a "work" trip as we did projects on a house in France to make it vacation-rental ready. It's a long story; the short version being that I inherited this place from my French uncle Pierre and we would like to keep it in the family if possible. We will rent it out to people looking for a small home to stay in on vacation in France. It isn't fancy but it's real nice- clean and complete. It's rural, on a big lot, surrounded by a laurel hedge so it is very private. Three bedrooms and two baths, radiant floor heat, a very sunny and pleasant main room, modern kitchen. The house was built in 2001 so it is modern and not drafty and has amenities like radiant floor heat. With a listing on VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) or "Gite.com" we hope to cover the cost of running and keeping up the house.  Still working on that website submission material. We really hope we can make this work because Ann and I love the house and the location and can't get over there enough while we are still busy working. Its one of those places that is so quiet at night it almost hurts and you can see the Milky Way like you could reach out and touch it. It is the most relaxing place I've visited in years and the local activities are great- kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, lots of ancient ruins and functional castles very near, great small rural villages, Saturday markets in the village square. This area is known for excellent food and we can confirm that. Here are a few photos of the home, inside and out, and the area:

Les Rengues_CSP5761.jpg
 

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI, no less) began a conversation with us at the end of 2015 about a photographic approach to a campaign to express their mission and improve their visibility. With the concept from art director Kolea Kent, we decided on a series of portraits, each with a short testimonial comment. Our subjects were their clients and some client-contact staffers. Photography was scheduled for a day in Yakima and a day, in studio, here in Spokane. Kolea and I refined the style and approach before production with some testing and experimentation, then produced over 40 individual portraits (well, there are also a few two and three - people variations). In addition to using these images for their 2016 Annual Report cover and other print applications, seventeen of these were prepared for a gallery show which travelled with the PPGWNI team to three community gatherings (and fund raisers). We had R&R Color Lab make large prints on aluminum, for it's look, durability, and simplicity. These prints were then hung with a bit of hardware I invented and built for the gallery exhibits, with fabrication help from friend John Mraz. Simple, straightforward, and direct as a presentation. The last of these gatherings was held at my studio and was, by all accounts, very successful- like the other two events. It was great fun as well. The prints and hardware will now go to PPGWNI for use in their clinics and offices. We were all happy to get this much mileage out of our efforts. 

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NAC architecture brought us in to shoot the new "Clearwater Clinic" in Orofino, Idaho which they designed and helped concieve. Pat Watkins, their facility manager, was super helpful all day as we executed both exteriors and interiors for a long full day. The assistant I hired said that it was the "longest day he had worked in his life". He's young- he'll have more chances to beat it. He was good help right through the end, then for the three hour drive back. Once we arrived back at the studio we added grass, bark, and cleaned up the images for their final stage, as you can see using the image sliders. It's a beautiful building which is as much a community center as a clinic judging from the traffic and activities all day long. 

Grant County Public Utility District called us to refresh their facility photography and document the fisheries research and activity in which they are engaged. We took two separate days to make the most of weather and river flows. They own and operate Wanapum Dam and Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River as well as numerous recreational facilities along their stretch of the river. I have a personal liking for these dams (as well as other large-scale human technologies), my dad having been an engineer. Our family vacations often involved dam visits when I was very young. That was a time when anyone could stroll into the control room and have access to almost anywhere inside the dam. In hindsight these dams have their problems but they are what is largely responsible for the prosperity and quality of life in our modern civilization. The fishery problems are being addressed with great priority and effort right now given the importance of fish navigation in the circle of life and to the native cultures of the area. You would be surprised that with the modern turbine blades the survival rate difference is only about 1% between the turbines vs the spill way. Our first day was in the generator bay at Priest Rapids for a "heavy lift". Our second day began at 5:30 a.m., with fierce winds, which should have been no surprise (it is the "gorge"), It was a very cool, (as in freezing cold!) hour or so just downstream from Priest Rapids Dam. Extreme and gusty winds did not get the best of our camera supports- the tripods held steady (with extra weight) and we got our shots. A tough and long, but fun, day. 

You can download the annual Report here and view some images we captured for them here:  www.grantpud.org

Bouten Construction hired us to update their library of "process" and construction images. They use these images in proposals as well as in their broad marketing efforts. We were in Yakima on another job and stayed overnight there so we could be in the Tri-Cities, at the project, at 6:30 am the next morning. These guys start early and move fast. The parking garage is a substantial structure- five stories of heavy concrete. It was a routine day: re-bar install (getting ready for a large cement pour), form setting and removal, concrete finishing, crane work, and a dozen other tasks that are impressive in both scale and skill. 

Eric Thun, owner and inventor at Springtools asked us to photograph a few new tools and tool sets for advertising and promotional purposes. It helps that they are nice quality products. We brought them into the studio, talked over the art direction and he left us to our task with the help of his marketing and sales guy, Marty Parole. These spring tools are a great idea, in all of their variations, and Eric has had great success with them in national markets. I began working with this product many years ago with the previous owners of the company. I like it when a company stays with us as their photographer even through a change of ownership and management.

Wine has become big business in Washington thanks to good soils and a good latitude for the growing of grapes. Along with the "biggies" (Chateau St. Michel and so on) there are a few small, but very good, local wineries toiling to make the best wines on a small scale. My friend Kirk Phillips, with business partner John Morrow, run V du V winery here in Spokane. Kirk grew up around Lind Washington where his dad was a farmer. Turns out this area is especially good for the growing of grapes. Kirk started making wine on a hobby level in 1983, turned it into a business in 2003 as V du V winery. His knowledge and interest both increased through the years and now they make about a thousand cases per year. The grapes they use are still mostly from the Lind, Washington area including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, grenache. They make some nice wines and Kirk and John love the process and still do it all themselves. First Fridays they are always open, with music and great fun (and for direct sales) at South 10 Scott. Right next to the Clear Channel bunker on Sprague.

You can view their website here: www.vduvwines.com

This last weekend, Friday through Sunday morning, about eighty Spokane area creatives went to Camp Fire's Camp Sweyolaken on Coeur d'Alene Lake for ... well - for FUN. The second year of the Collective Campout, we did team projects, a range of hands-on seminars, and heard from Von Glitschka, a great designer illustrator from the Salem, Oregon area. The weather was great, food was good and the people were the best. It's amazing how great these spontaneous and quick projects came out with this mass of visually strong people, all in one place. 

Von Glitschka talking about the real world of creative business.

Von Glitschka talking about the real world of creative business.

Part of my team...

Part of my team...

Morgan and Courtney- enthused friends.

Morgan and Courtney- enthused friends.

One of two murals for the Paint-off competition for Joel Barbour of PNW.

One of two murals for the Paint-off competition for Joel Barbour of PNW.

The above image is our team flag. The first thing each team did together, was to come up with a name and create a flag to represent the team. 

The above image is our team flag. The first thing each team did together, was to come up with a name and create a flag to represent the team. 

Our Sweyolaken campout sleep shed.

Our Sweyolaken campout sleep shed.

The high-rope thing that I didn't do.

The high-rope thing that I didn't do.

Mollie Mraz, daughter of a long and dear friend, John Mraz (and her mom Marilyn) helped us with some computer decisions and mentioned her Marbled Bengal cat in conversation. Allergy-free apparently. She showed me a few images of her young cat and I asked her to bring herby for a photo session. The cat, Zelda, has such an exotic look and a tail about a yard long. While cats and strobes and studios don't always mix well, we stayed at it until she got a little familiar and you can see the result. Well worth it for us and for Mollie. 

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Nurse.com magazine, a large-circulation web and print magazine assigned us to photograph Associate Professor (and PHD) Martin Schiavenato to introduce a story about a technology he is developing to assess pain in newborns and infants. Before they are able to express discomfort. The WSU staff cooperated beautifully with us and we were able to execute in two locations. Martin is an RN and has worked with premature babies a great deal. This, and a genuine compassion for his small charges led him to this effort. An interesting fellow doing noble work. Read the full story below:

https://news.nurse.com/2016/02/29/in-the-palm-of-our-hands-rn-sets-sights-on-developing-tool-to-measure-infants-pain/

https://news.nurse.com/2013/07/01/the-orb-speaks-for-infants/

We photographed a new bike rack design invented and developed by my good friend Neil Johnson. SCS Racks is his company's name and he has really thought this through. It is a great, simple, easy to use, and very secure design with a beautiful finish and look. He even has a new lock design that will conform to certain car brand key patterns. Then you can use your car key in the rack lock to access your bicycle. A real entrepreneur, Neil has been a realtor for many years.

You can view the website and other images here: http://www.scsrack.com/

The Mendoza College of Business contacted us based on our website to photograph an alum for their very high-quality Alumnae Magazine. Mendoza is a subsidiary of Notre Dame University and Ms. Katherine Merck was being featured owing to her election as the 2016 Rodeo Queen. Katherine has had a love of horses, riding and the Western lifestyle since she was eleven and signed up for a week-long YMCA horse camp (regular camp was full). She was smitten and did all she could to learn horsemanship and "reining"- the very precise control of a horse. After earning degrees in finance and medieval studies, then beginning law school at Gonzaga, she researched the Rodeo Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and many other sources to win an escalation of competitions, finally arriving at Miss Rodeo America 2016. She was obliged to take a year off of law school to accommodate the 340 days of traveling required. Quoting Katherine: "The effect you can have on people with kindness is amazing". Even for our brief contact, she lives in this spirit. For us, apart from Katherine's uncommon warmth, I was reminded of how much patience it takes to work with animals. 

You can read the article here: http://bizmagazine.nd.edu/issues/2016/spring-2016/irish-cowgirl/

spokane magazine photographer

In 1986 I was at the steam plant just before they shut down the last boiler and, along with a group of five or six of us- me, several dejected steamfitters, and Steve Blewett  (of WWP), we each, in turn, pulled the lanyard on a huge steam whistle, charged by that last boiler, as the dying bellow of that huge old machine just before they shut off the (by then gas) fire on the last boiler for good. It was great- the sound was so deep, loud and rich as to take your breath away and it bellowed and echoed all over town for twenty seconds after sounding the whistle. I am sure that everyone within a mile, at least, inside or out, heard the seven or eight times we fired that whistle and wondered what the heck was going on. At one time in Spokane's history that whistle was blew every day at noon and sent all of downtown on their lunch breaks. When I say "whistle"- this thing was three feet long and took two people to carry safely. It was beautiful- heavy brass and built like old stuff was- to last forever. It may be around there still. The steamfitters at the plant ran a steam line way across the room and out the window on the train deck, installed a 90º elbow, screwed on the whistle and valve, and gave it steam pressure. We had to stand on a ladder to reach the lanyard on the valve and it took all you had to pull it, unsteady as the ladder was. It wouldn't sound until we were almost hanging from the rope, forcefully letting off a huge cloud of steam with the raucous sound. I couldn't believe how it resonated and echoed off of various downtown buildings. And such a hearty organic sound. Like the old steamship whistles- real bass and very loud. A good memory except that I went in for hernia surgery at 8:00 am the very next morning! I was very happy to have this photo project to distract my thoughts that day. To learn more about the Steam Plant visit: http://www.steamplantspokane.com/history

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