Adventuring - Steens Mountaints

Brother Boone organizes a bird hunt in the fall. I believe it was a tradition he was invited to join years ago by a good friend which morphed into a new tradition amongst new friends. I’m not much of a hunter (you may be able to tell that by the lack of actual hunting images) and for the past few years had the best intentions to join the hunt, but always bailed for various other reasons that don’t seem important anymore. 

This time around I put it on the calendar and made the effort to protect it from invading time commitments. That effort was well rewarded. 

The first leg of the trip is a 3+ hour drive from Seattle to Portland. I’ve come to savor this drive. When there aren’t time constraints and the timing is such that you don’t hit traffic in all the major cities, it’s an ideal amount of solitary time broken up with a single coffee break at my favorite truck stop along the way. I was actually quite excited about all the companionless time in the car. Boone’s location of choice is the Steen’s Mountains which happens to be tucked in the South East quadrant of Oregon and roughly 8 hours of driving from Portland. That’s 11 hours in the car each way with the addition of stops. 22 hours round trip. For a day and a half of hunting, some might be scared away. But the adventure is so often in the journey. 

The second leg is where it gets fun, and beautiful. I suggest an evening of scotch and conversation, a little rest, and some bagel sandwiches before hitting the open road the next morning. Also, look for signs that have “Donut Shop” painted on them. Or “Fresh Taxidermy”. Both make for enjoyable stops. Though some more tasty than others. Though timing on the road is almost always somewhat evasive, I would suggest trying to time it such that you end up somewhere breathtaking during the first hour of daylight and that last golden hour of light. And pull over to take it in. Every time. Even if it’s just for a minute. 

At your destination, you may not get the site you want. There may be hipsters or hillbillies that are too loud, or too quiet. That’s ok. Fun can still be had. Even when your buddy goes down with sunstroke, or your truck breaks down and you have to leave it for a month and make another trip back to retrieve it. The adventure is in the journey. Even if you have to make it twice. 

When with a group of peoples, friends even, it’s sometimes difficult to make time to do what you want to do. I don’t know why, I’m not an anthropological scholar. There’s the fear of missing out on adventure (FOMO) and then there’s the pressure to go along with the program and end up drained because the entire time was spent on keeping everyone else happy. Stop it. You’re all friends, or new friends. Be honest and kind. I’ve come to realize that caves freak me out. So when everyone gets excited about an afternoon spent underground I get nervous. A certain amount of fear in an adventure is healthy (I think). But I’ve had to learn that there are times to venture into caves and push myself and there are times when that is the last thing I want to do and to politely decline and enjoy a little time doing what I want to do. Which is usually sitting around the campsite ready or drawing with a drink in hand.

Deserts. They are so moving. The quiet. The vast open space. The flora and fauna are so resilient and even abundant in such a bleak environment. And you know you’re in the sticks when someone offers you fresh deer heart. I didn’t have the heart to accept it the first time, but a friend did. And you know what, prepared right and cooked on the fire… it was delicious. 

Speaking of camp food, always be prepared… to share. The thought of coffee is usually what wakes everyone in the morning and it’s amazing to see how different everyone is in their individual setup and preparation. But I think most importantly, it’s energizing to come together around meals whether prepared individually or by a camp cook. To share both ingredients, fuel, food and stories. Adventure may be more conducive to activities away from the campsite, but the time together solidifies and strengthens relationships. 

I'm not sure what is behind writing this random group of thoughts, but I enjoy the mental exercise. And I think that we hold memories and tradition near and dear to our hearts. Certainly photography documents these things, but Boone and I are fortunate to have family and friends that always have a few adventures on the mind. Having adventure on the brain and being open to some uncertainty and excitement is life giving. 

Little League

I have a love for baseball. I grew up playing it. There's a simple joy to throwing and hitting a ball. 

I remember tossing the ball with my dad in the backyard and I have fond memories of collecting baseball cards. Now, as a real-life adult, I have kids making up their own ''full count, bottom of the ninth" scenarios (though they may pretend to be Robinson Cano instead of  Ken Griffey Jr.) and wearing their little league baseball caps to bed. It's an amazing feeling to watch them grow and enjoy some of the same things as I did as a kid. 

With that in mind, I don't love brining my camera to the kids games because I want to be in the moment and enjoy watching them. To see the emotion on their faces when they get a hit or drop a ball rather than putting all my energy into aiming for the perfectly timed and focused image. But earlier this year I bought an old waterproof Nikon point-and-shoot 35mm film camera. It was easy to carry around throughout our summer adventures and allows me to snap a few images here and there and not worry about getting everything perfect. 


Spring 2013

Driving through Skagit County with the family (Spring 2013) we stopped at Snow Goose Produce, Mt. Vernon, WA. I remember stopping here with my family as a kid. Still love their ice cream cones.

Driving through Skagit County with the family (Spring 2013) we stopped at Snow Goose Produce, Mt. Vernon, WA. I remember stopping here with my family as a kid. Still love their ice cream cones.

I developed a 3 year old roll of Film (Kodak Tri-X) from the Spring of 2013. Images from a family trip through the farms (met up with the Moes family, yeah), our food Photography Workshop at The Pantry, date night with Ashley and Baron, and a family trip to Hood River. It's been fun developing BW film at home.

Smoke & Joust

I shot some album art recently (worked with some talented folks, more on this as the project comes to life) and we had some leftovers from the shoot that I thought the kids would have fun playing with. Some 9' cardboard tubes from the seamless paper and a very robust smoke machine. I think I freaked out a few of the neighbors on the new block when smoke filled their yards, but we had a blast. And as a safe Dad, I made them wear their football helmets. What could go wrong?


I've been sketching more in hopes of writing a children's book someday. I've got ideas, still putting everything together. Photo taken at Seattle's King St. Station while waiting for the train to Portland.

Snowday in the Mountains

Let's just say I'm "still getting used to" the focus and meter on this old film camera. But I really enjoyed developing these frames from a few weeks ago (January 2016). We decided to drive up to find snow and it didn't take too long to find a good spot to pull of the road where we goofed around in the snow until we got too cold. Ashley has a good nose for a tasty burger and we soon found ourselves warming up with burgers and fries which was absolutely perfect. We had plans to explore further but car troubles forced our hand to head home. But a faulty volvo thermostat is easily forgettable with memories from an adventure like this. (Kodak Tri-X developed at home. Shot on Canon AE-1.)

Christmas 2015

Our family is fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas with 5 sets of family (including our own family traditions as a family). I really enjoyed being a fly on the wall with one camera and one lens. Love these people.

 Student portraits for Seattle Classical Christians School 2014-2015 year.

For those of you with the love language of Physical Touch.

The Things that Matter Most

Inspired by one of my favorite photographers, Nate Kaiser, I plan to use this 'Personal Blog' space to post images of the thing I love to photograph most in the world. The thing that is nearest and dearest to my heart. My family. Not only are they beautiful people and fun to be around, but I've learned so much about myself and about photography in the process. I hope to quietly leave a cache of beloved images that capture real moments in the life of our family. It's something for future generations and selfishly, it pushes me to create and do life with the people I love. It means being in the quiet moments around the house as well as spurring on adventures together. - Gabe

Swim lessons

Summer 2015 - It's easy to forget the emotion of swim lessons. As a kid I remember being shy and nervous but also so excited about swim lessons. I remember my brothers and I visiting the 'Snack Shack' afterwards and that I often went for the Fun Dip.

Roman took to the pool like a flying fish. It was an overcast day (no big surprise in Seattle) and he was shivering like crazy out of water, but after jumping as high as he could and plunging into the pool he couldn't wait to flip out of the pool onto the deck and scurry back in line for another go at the diving board. Ivy on the other hand would cling tightly onto anything within reach. Two very different experiences but they both can't wait for next summer. Ashley and I sat and watched with huge grins on our faces. It's joyful to see them having so much fun.

Photographs in General

April 2011 // Canon AE-1, 50mm // Kodak Tri-X

April 2011 // Canon AE-1, 50mm // Kodak Tri-X

It's common knowledge but I'm going to say it anyways. Photographs are amazing. They are amazing because they capture a moment. It's an instant reminder of the emotions and events that were taking place at that time. In one glance you remember different hair styles, glasses, and clothes that represent who you were in that moment. And who you were then makes up who you are today.

I love polaroids (instant) photographs for that reason. They are an unfiltered snapshot of life at that moment. As I've been reflecting on photographs from my childhood, there are goofy smiles, bad hair, and hammer pants. And I've never looked at a photograph that my mom took with her point-and-shoot nikon and thought, "Man, Mom, you should've taken me to a spot with better light." No. It's just a rad moment in time with me in hammer pants at my birthday party with all my 4th grade buddies. (Thank Mom for capturing those moments.)

In our modern life, we snap iPhone pics and have apps that remind us daily what happened a year ago and I love it. I'm reminded of when my kids were younger and the funny little mannerisms and quirks that are lost and forgotten as they age and time goes on. It's often the most normal photographs that remind me of these things. Walking my daughter to preschool in the morning. A trip to the hardware store. Make dinner together. That's life. Capture it. Whether it's analog or digital, my message to you is to make photographs often

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Baby Ivy eating dinner with our good friends the Starks in the background

Baby Ivy eating dinner with our good friends the Starks in the background

The boys geared up for what would become the saddest Super Bowl ever

The boys geared up for what would become the saddest Super Bowl ever

Whidbey Island, WA // Us at the wedding of dear friends Sam & Megan

Whidbey Island, WA // Us at the wedding of dear friends Sam & Megan