I spent last weekend with some friends at a family cabin on the river outlet of Lake Pend Oreille. It was late at night, perfectly still and very clear, the sky rife with stars. Orangy lights from LaClede, a few miles away, are touching the thin cloud cover with Sandpoint's lights off in the distance. With a big bonfire burning down, it was a sublime evening.
Craig's old friend John Mraz worked for months, with the kind of attention only John can muster, to design and build this dining table for his daughter's family. He used parts from an out-of-service rod weeder that was at the Mraz family farm near Colton, Washington. It's really well done and real heavy and will likely outlast all of us. John and his brother sat in for this shot for fun. I want John for father in law.
As a Photographer in Spokane, Washington it's nice to get into some bigger hard-labor work now and again. HydraFab is a successful machine and fabrication shop in Spokane with a huge shop and plenty of work. These nicely finished stainless steel items are made to hold a bunch of cooling tubes for industrial purposes. These folks know their way around metal fabrication, the finish is beautiful. The challenge here is the location- it is a shop and though it is well maintained and clean it's not spotless, and then the scale of the projects. This item was roughly 12 ft. tall and 20 ft. in length. Big lighting and a big set are unavoidable. The HydraFab crew is great to work with- they appreciate what we're trying to do and they are confident and capable in their own work. Another Spokane success story that is low-key, but a good part of Spokane's industry.
A simple project but not unusual in the life of the commercial photographer. To photograph these nicely-built trade show displays, we brought in very light portable lighting. The light in most halls is not good for photography, so I wanted to add just a title to make our subjects "pop". This is documentation and thus strait forward as production goes. helveticka (formerly Anderson-Mraz Design) designed the graphics for these portable displays. Revett Minerals was helveticka's client. We executed before the show opened for obvious reasons.
Scott Sloan of Market Vision invited us to go to Portland and set up for a day at the Englander Mattress factory showroom to photograph a brand new line of mattresses. About 30 mattresses later and another session for mood and detail images, we flew back to dear old Spokane. Not a bad way to spend the day. We rented lighting gear in Portland at Pro Photo Supply and produced the work at the factory showroom.
In the interest of producing "working" images of the professional staff at NAC Architecture, we made a trip over to the Seattle area when a full-staff NAC meeting was scheduled to photograph as many of their people as possible, in action. Staff embers from their four city offices converged on the Cedarbrook event center (a superb setting) near SeaTac Airport. We wanted to focus on individuals, but as they collaborated and worked through their agenda, and with candid photographic approach. It was kind of a "fly on the wall" approach, with the idea that we asked them, as a group, to ignore us and work as if we were not there. This approach was actually pretty effective and many useful images were produced in a fairly short day, all while not impeding their group purpose. I actually believe we photographed everyone present, at least to some extent.
Coeur d'Alene Casino has a new chef. Chef Steven D. Walk has joined the Coeur d'Alene Casino as Head Chef, and J. Craig Sweat Photography was asked to photograph him. It's a huge job with many food venues and catering events on site at the casino/hotel. Steven knows his food and seems to know how to keep his very active food service group moving forward. The food is really quite good throughout the property, and it is all done in a beautiful facility with warm, inviting staffers in place to help us all have a great experience. Chef Steven is skilled with food, with management and with business. He's a nice person to boot.
Laurine Jue of Avista Corp asked us to get a team photograph of the many Avista people who worked on and implemented the initial Spokane (and Pullman) Smart Grid system and infrastructure as Avista learns more and gets better at what they do. While not everyone involved was free to be there, this group came along and was recognized and warmly thanked by the Avista management. A small book was published documenting the project and its progress. As for the entire utility industry, this is a beginning for a new generation of power management and delivery. Avista has always been a leader in invention, innovation and thinking hard about what they do.
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe has a great success story in the casino they built some years ago near Worley, Idaho. While they appreciate their own successes, they have a venerable creed that puts real value in the relationships they have with others and the bounty and gifts of nature. Dave Matheson, the Casino 's CEO, expressed this in remarks at the Winter Blessing event at the Casino. Very well attended, even as the gaming activity bustled in the next room, a heartfelt blessing was offered by several Tribal elders as well as Mr. Matheson. Fry bread and drinks were served to everyone's delight. There was a grand circle of friendship all the way around the very large event room, with greetings, handshakes and hugs for all. A drum circle and many beautiful dancers performed to finish the event. I was glad to have been invited.
Shabby Fabrics asked J. Craig Sweat Photography, Inc. to photograph some of their Holiday quilts. Shabby Fabrics is a global online business owned and operated out or Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. For those who don't know, J. Craig Sweat Photography has a history in quilts. Debbie Mumm was a successful quilt design and pattern company owned and operated in Spokane, Washington and still has a healthy online presence. J. Craig Sweat Photography was behind many of the images that brought Debbie her look. The Shabby Fabrics look and feel is very different- simpler and softer. We went in-studio for these "winter" projects and executed an assembled set with a wall and some props to give a warm, soft holiday feel to the quilts.
J. Craig Sweat Photography was recently contacted by Innovate Washington to photograph their new CEO, Bill Savitz. In keeping with a business casual "working" style of photography we had established some years ago for Innovate Washington, we photographed Mr. Savitz using their building amenities as a location. Makes the process fast and the results more "real" as to their context and mode. This is, in one sense, a routine staff photograph, but is interesting owing to the history (of the creative direction and the institution) and thanks to the individuals we get to meet and know a bit. Bill is a very heads-up kind of person with his own well-developed ideas as to where the Innovate Washington mission needs to go, including a soon to be announced re-branding. We are lucky to have a gent of his caliber looking out for our future here in Spokane.
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. We have executed the "baseline" photography of the structure as it has stood. We tried to find angles that would still exist after the remodel and that demonstrated the traffic and aesthetic improvements.
We will post the finished project, with comparisons, when the build is finished. It really is a big project with major demolition and large scale reconstruction and thus won't be finished until mid-2015. The designer and management team from GGP have been superb to work with. They gave me plans and showed me the site along with discussion of the strategy and purpose of the project. All of this helps us make better decisions as we work.
Sister Madonna Buder, of Spokane, is an Ironman (World Championship) competitor who as a retired nun living in Spokane keeps a rigorous running, biking, and swimming training schedule to stay competitive. At the age of 84 she's an inspiration to all ages and isn't slowing down. She has forced several triathlon organizations to open up new age categories. J. Craig Sweat Photography has been an ally and friend in her efforts for several years including through several magazine stories, including the first for "Geezer Jock" magazine. Then a book was written about her and we photographed the cover and helped with inside photography as well. As commercial photographers this is great work for us and she has come to see us as her "photo people". She refers all photography inquiries to us, mostly because she doesn't want to take time away from her workouts. You will never meet a more kind and charming person in Sister Madonna, nor, apparently, a more motivated one.
Chris and I headed down to the Pullman WSU Campus a little while ago, just in the nick of time for fall weather. It was a fun shoot- there had been a big game Saturday and Sunday they had apparently cleaned up because when we got there at 7:00 am it looked real good. It was a beautiful day. Clear skies and great color. Our task was to execute several exterior photos from the stadium (east) side of the new Football Center. It is a large building that houses the locker rooms and indoor training areas, as well as football administration and related activities. ALSC Architects designed the building (as well as the new box seat and announcer building above the south bleachers a few years ago) and it is substantial. It sits right between the Coug's two practice fields and Martin Stadium. The stadium was at it's best (absent a game in progress) and we escaped a big parking ticket through a bit of good luck. The Palouse drive, there and back, was just great this time of year, too.
We get asked, most years, to do "Career Day" at Glover Middle School. Yesterday was the day this year and we had a fun time engaging with photo-interested students. They were great, with good questions and what seemed like real interest. We did a few minutes of show-and-tell, with a small portfolio of images on-screen, then we moved to a demonstration. Four separate groups moved through in about three hours- pretty intense and busy, but good fun. The "demo", in order to be manageable in the time and space, was a macro image with liquid - squeezing and orange slice in extreme close up and "splash" photography, again very close-up. These kids showed great excitement as the rapid-fire images came up on-screen and the students we picked to "squeeze" got applause at the end. We used our new super high-speed ProFoto power supply with a bi-tube head to really freeze the movement and they loved it. Some wanted to phone-picture or monitor screen to post the image. We'll help with that here:
The creative director at the Coeur d'Alene Casino asked us to photograph menu items for in-house and outside promotion. They have a very good kitchen (actually several and a new Chef. We had photographed Chef Steve Walk a few weeks before, as he came on board at the Casino. We ate lunch at the Casino before the photography the way the schedule worked and myself and Chris Thompson, our studio assistant (and a ravenous sort), ate our fill. The Casino and this Chef do seem dedicated to quality ingredients, well prepared and presented. From to-go, to buffet, to breakfast short order, to decidedly fine-dining, they have it all. The food operation is substantial at this resort. On this afternoon we did four dishes in a half-day session. Shrimp appetizer, chicken, pork cutlet and a beautiful fish steak graced our set. Work fast to shoot peak freshness is the rule with food work. It is a gift to work with a great chef and he understood that plating for photography is different than plating for service. Every tiny detail counts.
We were asked by the new owner of Nicks Custom Boots to help with a new website and marketing effort. The owner is a gent who comes from a marketing and writing background and he contacted us after seeing our website including some work we have done for White's Outdoor- other boots and footwear. We did several batches of work and casual boots as product photography and then a great session at the factory. It is kind of a old-world factory, not large but very full and very busy. The craftsmen and women are really skilled and it is a wonder to watch them take the full cowhides and cut and work and sew them into the best boots you can buy. They sell to linemen (and women, I'm sure) loggers (with the spikes all over the sole), smokejumpers and other heavy-use outdoor trades. They do a ton of rebuild work too. Some of their boots have been in service for decades. When they are comfortable and right, they are worth rebuilding.
Good heavy leather, hand selected and matched, sewing intricate patterns with machines that can sew through a half-inch of leather effortlessly, other machines that sew the soles- some an inch-plus thick, old tried-and-true finishing buffers and strange devices that have more history than most people do... this is the stuff of Nicks Custom Boots. Superb craftspeople who really get it when it comes to quality. Shooting there for a day was a great pleasure and the client responded to the proof gallery with an email saying " Wow- these are a gold mine". His web designer told him that these images were "as good as he had seen". I hope it is true. At the least, it makes us feel good about what we did for them. This is the kind of business I like and admire from a lot of different perspectives. Scale, locality, artisanship, personality, quality- a business with real heart. You can view their website HERE.
Follow Nicks Custom Boots on Instagram.
Coeur d'Alene Casino came to us to get some "lifestyle" images of their top-notch casino. They asked us to find talent and make-up services and go all-out for their gaming facility. They have used them widely in print and web dispositions. This was a great shoot for us- getting these fairly dark spaces and backgrounds lit for the right mood (not too dark and mysterious) and directing the talent for excitement and energy was the goal. The art director was real happy with the production and the results.
This casino has come a long way and is a very nice facility with several restaurants (good food- we've tried three of them), great hotel rooms, spa services, a beautiful golf course, meeting facilities, and just about anything else you might want at a resort property. It's remarkable how successful they are even as far out in the beautiful Palouse country as they are. It is the high quality amenities that bring folks here. The distance may even help: it feel like a real break from the everyday. I always look forward to our jaunts to the Casino. The drive is beautiful and the client is superb- appreciative and helpful.
Bouten Construction remodeled their offices with the help of the design agency helveticka. We photographed the result for helveticka's and Bouten's uses. It was a good exercise in interior photography- smaller spaces with mixed lighting (window, direct sun, fluorescent, tungsten, and some track fixtures). This is a common problem to solve with interior photography and there are several tools we use. Planning counts as some sources need to be isolated as we shoot, other balancing methods are done in post-production (editing). As a working office, we had to be a little careful with clutter and noise but the Bouten folks were great to work with, even helpful. Main lobby, entry hall, small and large conference rooms and a few details were done in less than a day. Bouten's projects are many and of usually of large scale. You can't live in Spokane without seeing and using Bouten constructed buildings. They are exceedingly good at heavy construction and have a reputation for careful, nicely finished work.
CK Anderson of helveticka came to us to photograph the various interiors at Rockwood Lane Retirement to help build their occupancy. These are all lived-in homes and their owners were good to us as we tried to represent what seems a very agreeable lifestyle. This is a well-maintained facility with everything from free-standing homes to small apartments available with a range of dining, support and nursing services on call. The folks I met seem real happy living there and the food looked great.
The challenge for us was the tight quarters in the smaller apartments with the dense furnishing that happens when a person, or couple, tries to narrow down a lifelong collection of nice things to fit a smaller space. In one case, there was absolutely nowhere to put a light , so we lit first for the right half, then, being very careful around the camera, we re-lit for the left half, combining the halves later, with little problem, as we edited. Good lighting for each half with just a little added editing time. We spent a full day on the interiors and then a couple of hours on a sunnier day for some exterior views.