Thursday, October 2, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Art Nunez

Meet Art Nunez an old high school friend. He is a constant creator, that is best know for his sense of humor and his talent on the guitar.  You can find him making people chuckle with his continuous Facebook humor @ Cinful Art.   



"Do what you are going to do. Along the way you just trouble shooting."


This is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

I moved out when I was seventeen. I rented a apartment, I wanted to work, I wanted to do what I wanted do without someone telling me what to do, when to do it, or when I can't do it! I never moved back home. Eventually, my mom moved in with me. I just starting working and never stopped.  

As a kid what did you dream about becoming when you grew up? 

That depends on how far back we go. Originally, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I always love to draw and I had an over active imagination. I loved making people laugh by doing goofy drawings. Cartooning was my first realization that I loved to create. Then, when I was twelve I started playing music and from there I always wanted to be a rock star. I got my first guitar when  I was ten, but didn't start really playing until I was twelve. That is when I got my first amp. After that, I fell off the face of the earth. All I wanted to do was jam on the guitar while day dreaming of playing giant arenas with those little tiny speakers. I would be jamming on the guitar while jumping off my bed and going crazy. I am still doing that to this day. The only difference is that I do it live!

Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

No. They thought I was a dreamer and I wouldn't amount to anything. I really didn't get any support from them for anything I wanted to do. Their idea was work hard! Basically, their advice was to go to a job, work hard and be the best you can be at that job. You are not too good for any job. That is what I did. I settled for any job and became the best I could be at that job, but I was miserable. 

At this point in your life are you happy where you are at? 

I am happier than I have ever been. Granted, my rock and roll dreams have come and gone.  However, I am still playing live and I have a creative outlet.

If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change, what would it be? 

Right now? I think I changed everything to be who I am now. I don't think I could or need to change anything right now in my life. Everything to this point in my life has had its purpose. It has molded my into the person I am today. I am very happy!!

Can you share one of your most vivid childhood memories? 

Going back into my childhood is a little dark. I had a very depressing  childhood. Very few people know most of this stuff. The most vivid moment was one afternoon about noon. I was six years old and I got called into the office at school and officer friendly was waiting for me. I walked in the office and he said he needed to drive me to my Uncle's house. I got really scared. When I got to my uncles house he told me there had been an accident.  He said my house burnt down and everybody was in the hospital. The first person I saw when we got to the hospital was my mom. My mom had third degree burns on parts of her face and body. They wouldn't let me see my other two brothers or my father. My two year old brother was dead on arrival and my three old brother was in critical condition. I just shut down, I was in total sock. When we got home that night to my Uncle's house we were watching the news. The story of our house fire came on and that's how I found out that my three year old brother that was in intensive care had passed away.  That is my most vivid memory. It completely changed my life because everything completely fell apart after that. That experience shaped my into who I am today and why I do what I do on the community. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

My kids, of course. I am most proud of them. A father is something I never thought I would be. It's something you cannot prepare for. They are growing up to be amazing people. 

What has been the biggest obstacle over the years of staying creative? 

Work!! Having to work a day job to earn enough money.  It's just something you have to do. Fortunately, I finally have a day job that allows me to still be creative. 

How do you balance the 9 to 5 and family life while still being creative? 

My wife is super supportive, but there are some obstacles there. I want to be part of the kids growing up and the wife and I love each others company.  Most of the time, she will come to my gigs and we get to experience it together, which is pretty awesome.  Our thirteen wedding anniversary is coming up. She is so amazing and supports me all the way!

Do you have any advice for those people struggling with the dreaded 9 to 5? 

I firmly believe where your mind wanders is here you heart is. You just have to figure out how to get to that place you mind keeps wandering to. There is a reason your mind goes were it goes. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? 

Do what you are going to do. Be who you want to be. Follow your dreams. As long as you believe in them you can achieve them!! That is the most friction I got from my teachers and my family members. They said I was wasting my time. It could be so hard to become a musician. Ok sure, absolutely, at least I wanted them to give me a chance to try it. If I fell on my face so be it. I could have gone to follow the rest of the herd and do my 9 to 5 job. I didn't want them to influence me to not pursue it!!!!

"Do what you are going to do. Along the way you are just trouble shooting." 

Here is an image that has stuck with me from my childhood. I went back to visit my grandparents in Chihuahua Mexico shortly after the accident. I remember going to work with my uncle who was a brick maker. They did it old school back then, they would gather adobe and bake it in a huge oven. One day, we walked across this railroad track with nothing on the sides. I was so terrified. My little feet fit perfectly between the wooden tracks which had to be 70-80 feet high. That railroad bridge has stuck with over the years, just because of how it made my feel that day. When I came across this image below on the internet it moved me and made me relive that walk.





Thank you for sharing, Art. It was great to get to know you a little better. 

With every story I take a little bit of the conversation with me. It helps me understand, even though life is often not fair, we can still make of it what we want. We are in charge of our destiny despite the road we must travel to get there. I will leave you with one of my favorite sayings...or my variation of a popular saying:

Things happen for a reason. Yes they do and that reason is you!










Thursday, September 18, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Photographer Jeff DeLaCruz

Meet Jeff DeLaCruz, a good friend and a very talented Chicago based fashion photographer. 

His work can be viewed on facebook @ Jeff DeLaCruz Photography  and his website @ http://www.JeffDelaCruz.com/. He also has a successful product photography company called  POW  Product On White Photography. It was created as a way to help small business and start ups get better product photography for new e-commerce websites.  The ironic thing about our friendship is that he is a photographer originally from Lacey, Wa that ended up in Chicago and I am a photographer originally from Chicago that ended up in Lacey, Wa. Who knows, maybe we will be neighbors again soon. 

"After all those years of struggling, I’ve finally created a photography business that people love and helps people who dare to dream of creating a business for themselves."

This is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

We moved here when I was 5 and I lived here up until I left for the Army when I was 17. I enlisted in the early entry program and I left for boot camp right after I graduated high school. I came back home after basic training and pretty much after any big changes in my life. I moved back home after basic training for a short time I ended up leaving for college.  When school didn't work out I moved back home again.  After a while of being at home, I moved down to Santa Barbra. Shortly after that I ended up going to Iraq for the Army. After Iraq, I moved back home again. Home has always been kind of a safety net for me. Knowing I could always go home if needed was a good feeling and really allowed me to chase after me dreams. 

As a kid what did you dream about being when you grew up? 

When I was younger I wanted to be a creative writer. It was something I always had an interest in. Even with that I was always taking pictures but never really thought of photography as a career. Besides, I was never really close with my real father and he was a photographer. Him being a photographer made me not want to have anything to do with it. For some reason I just kept shooting and I really enjoyed it. The want to be a creative writer never left me so I went to college for writing right after basic training. It was a terrible experience. I realized I was not a naturally gifted writer and I didn't have the stamina to write a novel. Even while in school for writing, for some reason I kept shooting. I even had a dark room in my friend's garage. I tried to get into the film program in Western, Wa. When Western wouldn't let me into the film program I ended up moving back home to try and figure out my next step in life. While at home this time I took a photo class at the community college. I thought if I am going to do this, (pursue photography) I have to go to the best school and surround myself with the best people. I wanted to be the best photographer that I could be. In my mind, that meant go to the best school.  I decided on Brooks Institute in Santa Barbra. They were the most technical school in my opinion. The other schools I looked at taught more about the art of photography. I figured I was already taking artistic photos, so I needed to be as technical behind the camera as I could be. After all, I wanted to make money as a photographer.

I have always lived under the idea you have to be all in. I know I couldn't work a side job while going to school, so I went full time and immersed myself in photography. I feel you can't be successful if you are not all in because you will have these other things pulling at you. You need to be able to focus on that one thing. I  also think you need that fire under your ass. If you don't have any other source of income you will find a way to make it with photographer or what that one thing your passionate about. 

Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

My mom said that whatever I do she will always love me. She was always super supportive and proud of whatever I was doing.  She still has some of my first photos hanging on the walls. 

At this point in your life are you happy where you are? 

Sometime I am and sometimes I am not. It's been a pretty hard road. I had to go to the Army in order to go to photography school. Even with that, I have a mound of school debt. I worked through the recession as a photographer, which was extremely difficult. I made it through all that and I am still here. I have a product photography business that generates a steady stream of revenue and I am proud of what I have accomplished as a photographer so far.


"I don't know, am I happy? Well, it is kind of complicated.... LOL!" 

If there is one significant thing in your life right now that you could change, what would it be? 

How about a few changes? I wish I didn't have so much debt. I wish I could take back the recession. I wish we never switch to Digital photography. It just seems photography has become so devalued. Everyone with a digital camera thinks they can do the job themselves. 

Eventually, I want to get more into the multimedia industry. Something like motion graphics.
 

What is one of your most vivid childhood memories? 

I don’t know, my memory is pretty bad, which is probably why I became a photographer.  I clearly don’t remember anything until I was at least four.  Apparently, there was some pretty rocky beginnings prior to that time.  Perhaps, my first memories are of my little sister Becki, who was born around that time.  I remember holding her and playing with her. She’s always been very special to me.  Faded memories, like an un-coated type 55 Polaroid

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

From a survival stand point, there a few key things that I've done in my life that I feel that I’m proud of.  First, was surviving the Iraq War.  I was soldier back in 2004 right after the invasion and Baghdad which was a dicey place to be.  I  joined the reserves when I was 17 to help pay for college.  In 2001, on my first day of school at Brooks Institute of Photography I watched the towers fall as I was packing up my books to head to class in the morning.  Less than 2 years later I was packing my duffel bags and hugging my college friends goodbye.  

When I returned in 2005, I did very little except exist and drink, but finally went back to school a year later and finished my degree at the beginning of 2007.  This is moment number 2 I was most proud of; being the first person in my family to graduate from college and with highest honors.  

After that, I moved to Chicago.  Things were great, then things got bad.  As a young freelancer in Chicago between 2008 - 2010, life was hard, as it was for a lot of people during the recession.  Somehow, I managed to keep shooting as a photographer and didn’t give up through those extremely difficult years.  After surviving those terrible years and not giving up, there are many people that I know who should feel as proud as I do.  

Finally, as of July 26th, a business that I started during the heart of the recession years hits it's third year.  POW  Product On White Photography was created as a way to help small business and start-ups get better product photography for new eCommerce websites.  I’m crazy proud of what we do there and I can’t believe that after all those years of struggling I’ve finally created a photography business that people love.  It helps people who dare to dream of creating a business for themselves.  


If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? 


Don't join the Army, that was kind of a foolish idea. Please try not to accumulate so much debt.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Christina Shock

Meet Christina Schock. A friend and very talented makeup-hair artist. Her work can be viewed on facebook @ SchockMakeup and her website @ http://www.schockmakeup.com/

Don't get so distracted and stay focussed, always believe in yourself and never give up, even when others don’t!!! .

So this is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

I lived there my whole life. From the moment I was born and they brought my home from the hospital. To the moment I moved out on my own to Seattle, when I was about 20 years old. 

As a kid what did you dream about being when you grew up? 

Many different things. It would always change but it always be something creative. I wanted to be a make-up artist through my preteen years and when I was younger I wanted to be an artist, actor and even a musician. Until I realized it was really difficult to play an instrument, LOL. Playing an instrument just didn't come the easily to me and that was when I realized I was a much more a visual person. Which lead into photography. Which I still do and enjoy from time to time. 


Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

It was a little bit of both. I am really happy that my mother always encouraged me to be creative. I always had crayons, markers paper and she taught me how to sew. She really encouraged me to do what ever I wanted do. She always said I could be anything I really wanted to be. That of course was until I reached high school and she was like you need to get a job LOL. So there was both sides. Be creative but don't forget to be responsible.  I ended up going to College for Photography and Video but still ended up pursuing hair/make-up. I remember when I was a little girl I used to take my moms magazines and with my pens and markers I would draw more eye liner and play with people's eyebrows in the magazine. It was fun to see how they would look differently when I changed their make-up, eyebrows and bigger eye leashes. 

At this point in your life are you happy were you are at? 

Umm....kind of back and forth. In a way I am happy with all the things I accomplished so far. By no means I am done and I want to go further with it. I put it slightly on pause to have a child which I am truly grateful and happy I did, but there is still more to come. Just because you have to pause for a moment it doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming or pursing your passion. It just means it might be a slightly different path then you originally start out on. 



If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change what would it be? 


I wish right now I was in a bigger market for what I do. I moved back to Seattle from LA to be with my family while my husband and I raise our child. I feel when I moved to LA my career really took off. I am now trying to figure out what the next step might be. Don’t get me wrong moving back to Seattle was the right move for us at this point in our lives and I am happy we did it. 

One of your most vivid childhood memories? 

My cousin and I were obsessed with the band Kiss.  Around the age of 10 we would make guitars out different things and we would do our make-up to look like them. We would perform concerts in our living room and make our mothers be the audience. I was always Paul Stanley and my cousin would go back between Peter Criss and Gene Simmons. He really wanted to be Ace Frehley but not only for the fact I couldn’t do the star, we also didn't have any silver make-up. We would spend hours in front of the mirror practicing before our big living room gigs. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

It has to be in 2010 when my work made it onto a billboard and it was totally unexpected. My roommate called me when I was out of town and was like I just saw that photo you worked on a billboard. It was such an awesome feeling when I flew back into to town and got to drive by and see it. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self? 

To not get so distracted and stay focussed. I knew I always wanted to do something creative and I eventually got there. It was just such a hard journey, as it should be. Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy. I feel it is so easy to say its to hard and just give up and et a regular 9 to 5 job. I fell into trap  for a brief period of time. A couple years passed but thankfully I was able to refocus and continue on that creative path. I have to say you always believe in yourself and never give up, even when others don’t!!! 





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dogs of Valhalla Rescue "Cooper"



Adoption story #4 Dogs Renea and her bond with our dog Cooper

   


Have you ever had a dog before? 

When I was little we had a dog for a brief time.  We moved to a house that did not allow pets so my mom had to get rid of him and after that the only pet we had growing up was a bird.


What made you want to get a dog now?


When I moved in with my boyfriend and his dog Maverick. I saw the bond he had with him and was amazed on how quickly I grew attached to Maverick. We were both deeply saddened when we had to put him down last August. After a few months passed we started talking about getting a dog together, but I wasn't pushing it since I knew Shawn was still sad about Maverick. Once I started to look and Shawn became more interested, I then knew there was no turning back.


Why adoption instead of a breeder? 


When we decided to get a dog, we didn't really have a preference. We had a bad experience with a breeder that was trying to sell puppies thorough Craigslist. He wouldn't meet us at the place he kept and breed the dogs, as he keep tying to have us meet him in a parking lot somewhere. It seemed a little strange to us so when we came across Pet Finder on the internet we decided to adopt/rescue. 




How has having a dog changed or effected your life?

In so many ways, First off I never knew that I could love a dog as much as I love Cooper. I moved to Washington from Chicago and it is really hard on me being away from my family and friends. The bond I formed with Cooper helped with this a lot. I love playing with him, taking him on hikes, the way he always comes and sits in my lap when I am on the floor and most of all I love how is waiting by the door for me when I get home from work. It is truly an unconditional love.

Funny Story or Instance with Cooper

The day we picked Cooper up from Laurie's house (thats where he was being fostered) he was so little and only 8 weeks old. When we left, Laurie gave us a pee pad for the car ride home and suggested to lay the pad on my lap. But of course I didn't take her advice. Shortly after leaving Cooper started whining and seemed very anxious. We stopped to let him out of the car to see if he had to go to the bathroom. We Walked around for a few minutes and nothing so we got back in the car and continued home. We were a block away from our house and he decided to poop while sitting on my lap and I did not have the pee pad on cover my lap so it went all over my pants. Shawn was laughing so hard, of course I wasn't. After I cleaned Cooper and myself up I was laughed a little 










What is one of coopers favorite behavior traits? 

He lays on his back when he is playing with a bone and holds it with his paws in his mouth.  Also when I put his favorite toy away he goes and gets it out even if he doesn't want to play with it just so it is next to him.  

Are you glad you decide to adopt? Would you do it again? 

Yes and Yes..


How did Valhalla help with the adoption experience? 

They made it very easy for us. Cooper (Poe) was the dog I had seen on pet finder first and that adorable face just made me wanted him. We went to Laurie's  and she brought out a few of the puppies but Cooper was the one that stood out for us (His markings and his energy) he was all over the place. Valhalla had us fill out an application then brought Cooper over to our house to check things out.  Shortly after they approved our house we got the call that we can adopt him and the rest is History. 



Would you recommend Valhalla to others? 


Yes, I would Patti does so many wonderful things for dogs. I especially like how much she helps out special need dogs. The whole experience with Cooper was great and they really care about the animals.



    


Cooper's 1st Birth Day

As Cooper turned one I cant help but to love how the relationship between Cooper and Renea has developed. I remember when we first got him, Renea didn't quit feel the connection at first. This was partly do to the fact that Cooper and I spent so much time together and Cooper was trying to figure out were he stood in the family dynamic. I must say their relationship has gotten very strong and is only getting stronger. I am so looking for to the many years ahead of us as their excitement and love grow for each other. As it will only bring us closer together. Thanks again Patti and the Valhalla Rescue. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere without these two. This is from our camping trip on San Juan Island over Labor Day weekend. 







Thursday, August 28, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Bryan Campbell

Bryan is a director base out of Seattle Wa. He has been writing, directing and assistant directing in the corporate and independent film community for more than nine years. His work can be viewed @ http://goldenboydigital.com/


If you have a dream, it's never unattainable. Never forget that your dream is reachable even when it feels really far away. Always keep going and never give up!!


So this is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

I was a "YoYo" kid, I would move in and out of my parents home a bunch of times. I was 17-18  the first time I moved out and that was to live in the dorms on the UW campus. I ended up dropping out of school and moved back home. I then moved out to live with my girlfriend only to move back home after we broke up. I then finally moved out on my own. I started dating another girl and we moved in together and got a bigger place, when that didn't work out  I of course moved back home LOL. The last time I moved out was when I started going to the Art Institute and l lived in student housing. But when The Art Institute  found out I had a roommate when I wasn't supposed to they kick me out and once again I moved back home and this time I stayed home for awhile. My parents really did me a HUGE favor by allowing me to stay for a while. After all living at home wasn't so bad. It gave me the opportunity to focus on my career. I was able to take low or non paying gigs that really helped establish my portfolio and gain experience while not having to worry about how to pay the rent or worry about were my next meal came from.

As a kid what did you dream about being when you grew up? 

I always dreamed about making films. That was always my desire. I always wanted to be a director. However there was a point in my life when being a director felt like a pipe dream. It felt really far away and sort of unattainable. But I also knew I couldn't work a 9 to 5. I never really never had a passion for anything other then films. There came a point when I realized I needed to get my shit together, go back to school and really chase down this dream. Do everything I could do to make this a reality. So I went at it 100% and  I wasn't going to quit! That is the attitude I needed to have in order to make this a reality.


Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

They were very much about do what you want to do. Follow the path you want to follow and we will support you in what ever you choose. They took a very hands off approach, they never pushed us do anything we didn't want to do, as long as we were excessing and staying healthy. I mean they didn't let us just do nothing but they made it more about us making the choices for ourselves. Its kind of weird living a life were you are not forced to do stuff. The motivation had to come from within side myself and it made it so I really had to want it to make things a reality. In some ways I think maybe I would  have gone into directing sooner if  I was pushed early in life to finish. If I had someone say no you are not going to drop out of school, you are going to follow through with what you have started. But  on the other hand I don't think I would have the same kind of drive or desire to do what it I am doing today. My parents allowed me to do it in my own way and on my own terms. I am truly thankful to have had the time to develop this way, it was really good for me. I was around 25 years old when things really started to clicked for me. But a lot of  my success is about my parents being supportive and allowing me to find my own way!

At this point in your life are you happy were you are at? 

I am very happy with what is going on in my life right now.  I was fortunate enough to start directing projects right out of school but I knew I wasn't the director I wanted to be yet. So I stepped back and took a break from directing. I knew I needed to learn more so I started Assisting Directing. I gave myself 3-4 years of being an assistant director so  I can get real life experience on set. I wanted to see how things are done, see how other directors worked with their actors and their crews. I had the chance to work with some truly talented and amazing people and for that  I feel truly blessed.  I gained a ton of experience in the 4 year time period of being an AD. Then about a year and a half ago I hit a cross roads while working as AD on the set of Portlandia season 3. I knew If I kept working exclusively as an AD, I would end up joined the union as an AD and thats what everyone in the business would see me as. I feel that perception in industry is really important. If everyone thinks that you are this thing you are never going to break out of it. I released that I learned all I was going to learn over the last 4 years as an AD and I needed to get back to directing. I needed to take all this knowledge I have gained and shift it into a project. I needed to change peoples perception of me. Of who I am and what I am capable of doing. After all my dream was not to be a career AD it was to be a Director.



If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change what would it be? 

Yes. I still AD a little and  I want to get to point in my life were I don't have to do that anymore.


What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I am really proud of The Bond. The Bond  was the project  I did when I decide to stop being an AD and get back to being a Director. I was able to raised 40K with $15,000 coming from kickstarter. I saw a fairly large scale short film from inception to completion in a calendar year. It won best narrative short @ Seattle True Independent Film Festival this year. Which is super cool. I have a lot pride in what I was able to do with the amazing team I assembled. I have short called Big Boy coming out soon. It was shot in April so it will be coming out in the next month or two. I am going to submit it to Sundance. I  just shot a music video for Seattle Raper Sadistik for the song Orange off of the Ultraviolet CD.

This is were I first worked with Brian, I shot the BS stills for the video. You can check out all of Bryan's work @ www.goldenboydigital.com





If you could go back in time, what would be the one thing you would tell your younger self?


I can be so stubborn, so locked into one idea that it takes a lot to change my mind. The only reason I am here doing what I am doing today is that I hit rock bottom and it made me change they way I did things. I couldn't take anyones advice, I had to learn it for myself. So Maybe not be so stubborn and always remember.
"If you have a dream, it's never unattainable. Never forget that your dream is reachable even when it feels really far away. Always keep going and never quit!!!"











Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dogs of Valhalla Rescue "Hannah"

Here is the story of Susan and her boyfriend John on how they opened their hearts and their homes to two wonderful dogs. Because of these two caring people and Valhalla Rescue Hannah and Moose will have a chance to have the happy and fulfilling lives they deserve. 




How has adopting Hannah changed or effected your life?  

We get a lot more exercise. Hannah really loves getting out and so we spend more time taking walks together as a family. This ends up being great for everyone as we get exercise and spend more quality time not thinking about work.

Funny Story or Instance with Hannah. 

We went hiking one weekend at cathedral falls and despite having been hiking with us before, Hannah seemed rather startled by every insect she saw that day. At one point she was sniffing around some leaves and a little beetle crawled out. As soon as Hannah noticed the Beetle she leapt backwards a few feet and then tried to scurry up the hill before nearly falling down a hill. All this just to avoid a beetle.

Does Hannah have special needs, what are they? 

While we were fostering Hannah, she had two spay surgeries aborted due to her heart rate dropping under anesthesia.  We decided to adopt her anyways, and have been working with specialists to see what is causing the reaction.   Preliminary results indicate she may have a heart condition called Cardio Myopathy.  She doesn’t have any obvious clinical symptoms yet, and we are just waiting on some more test results to get a definitive diagnosis and to create a management plan.

Why did you want to take on a dog with special needs? 

When adopting Hannah, we initially thought her only special need was going to be that she couldn’t be under anesthesia except for emergencies.  Having previously had a special needs dog, we felt this was a manageable condition for us.

Have you adopted a special needs dog before? 

Not intentionally, but my last dog had ended up having Wobblers and Addison’s disease.  The hardest part of having a special needs dog is dealing with the uncertainty of getting a diagnosis and implementing a successful management plan.  However, most special needs dogs only require minimal changes to their routine and you can barely tell they are different.  In addition, the relationship you have with a special needs dog is often deeper than with other dogs.  You are more in tune with each other, and they really seem to appreciate any extra care you provide them.




What is one of Hannah favorite behavior traits?

When Hannah wants something she will first come over and stare to see if you will pay attention to her. If you’re still not giving her what she wants she then places a single paw on your chest and stares into your eyes. Continuing to ignore her will result in both paws being placed on your chest and her pushing her face close into yours.

Are you glad you decide to adopt? Would you do it again? 

We are very happy that we adopted Hannah, our family wouldn’t feel complete without her.  We would like to keep fostering dogs, and would be open to adopting another one if they were the perfect fit for us.

How did Valhalla help with the adoption experience? 

Our adoption experience was pretty casual since we were already an approved foster for Valhalla.  Being able to foster Hannah before we adopted her really allowed us to get to know her before we decided to adopt.       

Would you recommend Valhalla to others? Yes, Valhalla does really wonderful work helping dogs and their community. 


Lets not forget about Moose. 


Have you fostered before? Why foster? Do you ever get to attached not want to let them go? What is the hardiest and most fulfilling thing about fostering? 

Before fostering Moose, I had only done a short-term foster where I fostered a puppy for the holidays.  My dog Dexter passed away in January, and while I wasn’t ready to get another dog, my home felt really empty. Fostering Moose really helped me with the grieving process.  Letting Moose go to his permanent home will be bittersweet, but I know that Valhalla will find him the perfect home.

What’s one of Mooses favorite traits? 

Moose is one of the funniest and joyful dogs I’ve had the pleasure of being around.  He really loves being around his people, and will follow you just about anywhere, including into the bathroom. 


Here is just an other amazing story that could only happen with help of the Amazing people. I believe Moose is still looking for his forever home. Please stop the Valhalla Rescue FB page and show your appreciation. 



Thursday, August 7, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of Julian Kosuke

  Julian is a visual artist and a student currently in the progress of attaining his Bachelors of Fine Arts. He has been constantly creating and pushing the boundaries of what we considered art since the age of 13.    His work can be viewed @ Julian Peña Studios

Take risk because  you cant grow with out taking risk, but at the same time be smart about it. In other words think before you jump but you must jump!
So this is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

I was in a hurry to grow up, I first moved out as soon as I gradated from high school.  I lived in Seattle for a year  that didn't work out so I moved back in with my parents. I then started dating someone and moved out again. That also lasted a year and when that didn't work I moved back to my parents home one more time. Lol and that was the last time I lived here.

As a kid what did you dream about being when you grew up? 

Originally it was a game & fashion designer. I actually went to school for both and it ended up they just weren't for me so I dropped out. I do have interest in both still but you know there is math involved so time to move on. Currently I am pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts with major in painting & drawing.


What's a memorable moment from living in your parents home?


I was a trouble maker when I was younger and I butted heads with my stepfather. I would sneak out and in efforts to catch me he installed a camera, a motion detector and flood lights. They were set to go out when I tried to sneak out (which only made my sneakier lol). He also made me get a job when I was 16 which is fine and normal.  But I look back at it and wow I worked at Dairy Queen and saved up enough cash to only buy discounted designer items and markers.

Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

They did encourage creativity because they always supported my art habit. I have always drawn and painted, mostly drawn. It was a lot of animation as that was my inspiration at the time. However at the same time my mom would say "why don't you go to school to be a doctor or lawyer, you know something more stable". But wasn't really a battle with them. They totally excepted that I am into art and that art is my life and they support me a 100%.

At this point in your life are you happy were you are at? 

I am very happy actually. I have some success with art and I am still in school. I feel I have worked hard in that area and I have a high passion for art & art education. I have particular goals, I do want to be an Art teacher some day but most importantly I want to be a relevant artist...not just any artist I want to be in art history books before I die.


If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change what would it be? 

Not sure that I would change anything. The good and the bad that is what shaped me into the person I am today. There are something things I wish I didn't live through but those moments made me a stronger and more resilient person. I more driven driven due to the things I have lived through.


What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

Winning the best artist of South Sound Magazine two years in a row, pulling off successful art shows while still in school and most importantly still being alive!

If you could go back in time, what would be the one thing you would tell your younger self?

Don't rush to move out & grow up, maybe enjoy the support. Take risk because I feel you cant grow in life with out taking risk. But at the same time be smart about it. I tend to jump in with both feet and that has lead to a few mistakes.

Be on the look out for Julian's new series The Black Period a series of photographic portraits of subjects that work in the sex industry coming the winter of 2104. "Sometimes I look at the surface to see not only my reflection but what's underneath..." 






Thursday, June 5, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING The Story of HILARY FOLKS

When thinking of our childhood it often brings back thoughts of happiness, having the ability to enjoy without guard and being able to dream without worry of failure. FYI you can still live that way!!!!! 


"Don't be afraid, everyone dies in the end. Also do more stuff!!!" 

How old were you when you moved from your childhood home?  I left when I was 19/20. My parents sold the house and I got my first apartment on Capital Hill.

What did you dream about being when you grew up?  I wanted to be famous but didn't really know how.

Any fun or vivid memories from this house?  When I was 3 or 4 years old, my bedroom window was adjacent to the neighbors Jim and Lois driveway. They were a retired couple and in the early mornings, around 5am Jim would back out the driveway to go golfing. He did this everyday without fail and every day I would hop out of bed and run outside to the end of the driveway to wave goodbye and he would give me a piece of candy each time. I loved it. 


Did you parents encourage you to be creative?  My Mom encouraged creativity, she drove me nearly every night to ballet classes and rehearsals, then she encouraged me to pursue a molding career which eventually led to my current career....

When/how did you start your career of being a photo stylist? 2009 I was living in LA teaching yoga when a producer friend asked me to help style a music video with Joel Schumacher. I said yes (of course having no idea what to beyond the basics) and the rest is history. In 2010 I really came into my own, career-wise. By then I had a portfolio of a few different types of styling/costuming for movies, music videos, tv shows etc... and decide that was my niche and ran with it.

Are you happy were you are in life? I am happy yes, i’m not satisfied however, i feel there is so much more to achieve and i feel very capable of doing more, but yeah, I am very happy.

If there is one thing you could change right now what would it be? To move back to LA full time, I am just so much happier there.

If you could go back in time, what would be the one thing you would tell your younger self?  Don't be afraid, everyone dies in the end and do more things!!!!!




Friday, May 23, 2014

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...NEVER QUIT DREAMING


To often in life we make the easy decision, the only everyone expects us to make. Growing up in a lower-middle class household on the North side of Chicago, the encouragement to follow your dreams was never there. The conversation of happiness never came up. When the thoughts of future would be discussed it would often led to what job can you get to pay your bills. Take what you can get or don’t worry you will figure it. So art or even creativeness didn’t really exist to me.  So not sure were it came from. Well from what I have learn over the years is that it is in all us and all it needs nurturing. Pick up a camera, a paint brush, a pencil, or a microphone. Don’t doubt yourself until you try it. Not sure how to start? Just do it!!! Phones have cameras, mics, and most have internet connects. Goggle the things that interest you, inspiration is all arounds and is now easier then ever to share with the world. Because that old cliche applies to everything, “If there is no one in the woods and a tree falls does it make any noise?”.  If no one sees our creation did we really create anything? So get up, get out, create and share!! You will be amazed on how it will change you life.


 This was our neighborhood hangout. A 4 way intersection that had a manhole cover at each corner that we converted into our imaginary Wrigley field. Each manhole represented a base and there was even a home run fence in deep center field. This is were we all dreamed of being Big Leaguers, but  what boy didn't right. However those dreams fade quickly as we all watch our parents struggle to get by. The only discussion about the future were always to find a job preferably a trade, work as much as possible or at least enough to get by. The phrase "Do what you have to do to get by" is something I truly Hate and refuse to say myself. If you are living your life to merely to get by then you are missing the point!!  We are not all going to do something that will change the world but we can all do something to change our part of the world.  When ever  I  would feel stagnate I would ask myself a hypothetical question. If I died today "was I happy with the way I was living the moment I died?" If  I answered NO then it was time for change. It's not a easy question to ask and a even harder one to answer. Happiness it not just a feeling it is a way of life and it is often a life long journey. As your needs for happiness changes often. So be strong enough to ask that question and even stronger to answer it honestly. People often say things happen for a reason and do nothing to to make those things happen. Things do happen for a reason and that reason is YOU. It will be hard, but it will life changing and I am here to tell you it's never to late! To live like we did when we were kids. Dream big and do what ever it takes to achieve those dreams. Surround yourself with people that feed those dreams, that encourage you every day to that special thing that you do. What ever it may be. Honestly just think back to what you dreamed about on that street corner and remember how happy that made you feel. Just the action of dreaming made you happy just imagine how following through on those dreams will effect you and the others in your life. I didn't find my special thing until I picked up a digital camera in 2005. Honestly it changed they way a look at everything. But honestly it wasn't myself that gave me the courage to search for happiness. It was my dear friend of Toby. He lived his life with no rules, he challenged everything, everyone and constantly challenged me. For that I will for ever be grateful. I just wish he was here to be apart of the journey he pushed my to take. We lost an amazing human being and the best friend anyone could ever have in Oct 2008. He changed and influenced some many lives and never will be forgotten.

 This project is in dedication to him and a reminder not only to myself but hopefully to us all. NEVER QUIT DREAMING!!!!


This a portrait series of adults in front of their childhood homes and is an effort to remind us all to LIVE for more then just this fact of getting by.



 This is the home of my late Grandmother Lorraine Kinney. This is were not only myself but a majority of my cousins built so many good memories.

1. How old was I lived here? Not really sure of the age because he constantly moved to and from here. But I spent a large part of my childhood here.

2. What did I dream about being when I grew up? I was never encouraged to dream about that stuff. It wasn't until we moved to the suburbs for junior high and I met Toby. He always pushed me to dream for more. We always talked about and dreamed about living on the west coast. The movie Point break really influenced us and made to want to live in CA.

3. When did I discover photography? I always had an interest, just never know you could make a life from being a photographer. I used to take rollls of photos with my point and shoot camera and develop them months later to relive the event and memories I captured. But it wasn't until 2005 in my late 30's and I haven't been able to put it down since. Thing  I love most about photography is that its a constant learning experience. It never gets old and is always presents a new challenge.

4. If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing what would it be? Take more chances, don't be afraid of failure and always chase downs those dreams despite how crazy they may seem.


















Monday, April 21, 2014

Being a Seattle Portrait Photographer and overcoming Gear LUST!!!!

Early in my career of being a Portrait Photographer I found myself having gear lust. Often I would catch myself saying only if I had this light, this lens or this camera.... I could do so much more. So one day I decided to stop limiting myself by thinking if I had this piece of equipment I could be more creative and learn to truly use all the gear I already have. So instead acquiring mounds of debt which often accompanies gear lust I excepted a self imposed challenge to find new and creative ways if using my equipment.

Here are four examples of what I learned from experimenting and challenging myself.

My first quest was to be able to shoot with shallow depth of field in studio while using strobes. My studio space was limited in size (12' wide x 17' deep with a 10' ceiling) and my studio strobe kit only having 5 stops of adjustment levels. So I had to come up with a creative way I could control my depth of field. I decided to try using a 2-8 stop adjustable Genus Eclipse ND Circular Filter  in studio. The ND filter is what I usually useed outdoors to help balance the sunlight with my portable strobes. By using the ND filter in studio it allowed me to capture my subject @ f-1.8,  1/125 and ISO 50.  Prior to using the filter my typical settings for my 3 light studio set-up with out the ND filter would be f-3.5, 1/125 and ISO 50.  The ND filter allowed my to open up to f-1.8 which gave me the shallow depth of field that I desired as illustrated below. 




The next challenge I gave myself was to use my the light modifiers in different ways. 
Quality of light is influenced by two factors: the size of the the light source in relation to your subject and the distance from the light source and your subject. 


In the image above I wanted to light multiple subjects with one light source. The key light (6' octa) was on camera right and slightly overhead. A strobe head with grid to camera left and behind the subjects was used for a rim light, which helped to add depth and separation from the back background as seen by highlighting their hair. Typically this is how the Elinchrome 6' Octa bank is used, as a key or main light.



To changes things up a little I placed the 6' Octa directly behind the subject which wrapped her in light (light is a little harsher due to the subject's closeness to the light source) and complimented her fair skin color. Then I added a 4' softbox on camera left  just below the subject to soften any shadows created by using the one light source.  



The 3rd and final set up was inspired by my recent move into a studio with 15' ceilings. This allowed me to use the the 6' Octa as a overhead light sourceIn this image I sandwiched my camera with the 6' Octa overhead and a 4' softbox just below the lens of the camera. The overhead large light source gave it a soft even light and due to its closeness to the subject it add a little pop (harshness). The 4' softbox below the lens softened any shadows created by to the angle of the over head light. 

So there you have it 3 light set-ups using the same light source which allowed me to created 3 different feeling of images. Just by being a little creative and moving your light sources around along with adding a ND filter you can give yourself endless possibilities without having a endless supply of gear. 

The and most important thing I learned from this experiment.  Is that you don't have to have plies of gear to be creative.  Now I can take that money that I saved on gear and spend were it is truly needed MARKETING!!!!!  As we all know you can be the worlds greatest photographer but no one will ever know about it into you get out there and tell them.