Vehicles drive beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct and up Yesler Way toward the Smith Tower. Many hoped that new owners would develop the city landmark into condos, but the project has stalled. In the foreground, the restaurant Al Boccalino has served Italian cuisine since 1989 in the building that once housed the Bedford Hotel.

Joseph Rodriguez, center, and friends walk through a rotating exhibit in a Pioneer Square alleyway during a First Thursday Art Walk. The Alley Network Project – sponsored by the International Sustainability Institute, local businesses, environmental groups and/or community supporters – works to revive alleyways for pedestrians and artists to use. The project has sponsored World Cup match showings, art installations, live music, food from local restaurants and movies.


In late January, Pacific Northwest Magazine published an article that business reporter Melissa Allison and I worked on for several months about Seattle’s first neighborhood, Pioneer Square. For a long while, I had been interested photographing life in this cross-section of old brick buildings, beer pubs, empty storefronts and high-end galleries. It’s lively, a little gritty. Good restaurants. Views. The neighborhood hosts the oldest art walk in Seattle, and the rowdiest parties before our major league sporting events. However, hardly anyone lives here. And, most of the people who do call Pioneer Square home, live in subsidized housing, based in some of the antique hotels. This part of our city is an amalgamation of rich and poor, history and innovation, art and decay.

Stories about neighborhoods and locations in our region are great to work on as a photojournalist. They are opportunities for exploration, learning and reexamining a place where you’ve visited many times before. Every building rooftop has the potential for an unusual vista. Most shop owners gladly share a story or two. And, you never know what you may discover ascending an old, creaky stairwell or following music down an alley.  It’s a project I was able to slowly chip away at over the course of a couple months, between assignments or on an evening when I’m in the mood to explore light and long exposures.

And, as always, I’m not able to work on longer-term project like this without the support of my editors and with collaboration reporters, like the talented M.A.

Alleyway details, Pioneer Square.

John Siscoe, owner of the Globe Bookstore, describes Pioneer Square at a Potemkin village, a description for the impressive facades of Russian towns built to please Catherine the Great. However, no one really lived there.

Meg Hartwig examines work at the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square.

Automobiles drive on Occidental Avenue South in Pioneer Square.

Characters of all shapes and sizes come out for the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square each month. A mysterious person in a moon mask sauntered around the historic district without saying a word or revealing his/her identity. The Pioneer Square art walk, which began in the early 1980s, was the first one in Seattle.

Time ran out for Trattoria Mitchelli. The Italian restaurant closed its’ doors after 32 years in business in Pioneer Square. Owner Dany Mitchell said he was not able to sell the restaurant due to tough economic times.

Jamal Harris, 40, walks underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct, hauling bedding and working to secure a mattress to sleep outdoors. The Square has a large homeless population and a number of social services for them.

The 619 Western building, built in 1910, houses more than 100 artist studios in its six-story, former warehouse space near the waterfront.

Ian Smith, a bouncer at the Owl n’ Thistle, gives away free sausages and hot dogs during game days in Pioneer Square. He said the pub doesn’t see the overflow crowds like the used to, and thinks some of their patrons migrated to Belltown.

Sounders FC Fans carry flares to Qwest Field before a match during the autumn playing season.

Members of the Emerald City Supporters gather at Fuel before the Sounders Game in Pioneer Square.

Matt Beckley sings with Emerald City Supporters during a march to Qwest Field from Fuel sports bar in Pioneer Square. Soccer and other sports fans are part of the vibrant mix of folks who’ve kept the area going, but expert observers say they aren’t enough to make the place a true neighborhood.

Clouds travel above Seattle, looking north from the top of a parking garage, located between 2nd Avenue and the triangle parking lot.

Anitra Freeman and her husband Wes Browning, both 61, steal a kiss in an elevator in Pioneer Square. The couple married after living in separate rooms at The Union Hotel, a DESC subsidized “housing first” program for homeless individuals with disabilities. Freeman— a poet, “bookaholic,” and activist for homeless causes—volunteers and occasionally writes for Real Change. Browning, who has doctorate in mathematics and suffers from PTSD from child abuse, also writes a humor column for publication.

Reflections from office building’s windows brighten a shady street in autumn in Pioneer Square.

Jeff Jacobson, known as Weirdo, works on a mural on the old Metropole building at Second Avenue and Yesler Street in Pioneer Square. A fire left the building covered with plywood for two years. Jacobson hoped to add some beauty and positivity physical landscape of the neighborhood.

Sunlight bathes Smith Tower at sunset in Seattle.

John Ackermann plays inside a store window with members of the art-pop band “Awesome” during a noon performance in Pioneer Square, as part with the Storefronts Seattle and Arts Crush projects. Storefronts Seattle works to support neighborhood vitality by connecting artists and their endeavors to vacant storefronts in the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square.

Himanshi Raj dances at Trinity Nightclub in Pioneer Square. Manager Guy Godefroy said his ornately decorated club, complete with bouncers and red ropes, is a place for celebration. “Somebody had the best night of their life tonight,” he said. Trinity patrons are often commemorating big milestones in life, such as birthdays, marriages, graduations and returning from deployments overseas, Godefroy said.

Dan Hirota,VSOP, mixes for a large and energetic crowd at Trinity Nightclub in Pioneer Square.

Trinity, Pioneer Square.

Monique Payne, of Phoenix, Ariz., watches the crowd at Trinity.

After a rainstorm, Pioneer Square’s vibrant redbrick buildings reflect in a street puddle. After Seattle’s Great Fire in 1889, the city was rebuilt with mostly brick and stone, versus wood.

The talented Danny Gawlowski helped produce a multimedia project about resident and business owners’ impressions of Pioneer Square. Please check it out if you have the time, and want to hear the voices in the neighborhood.

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Dang, it’s been a busy couple of months with the holidays and work. But, this last year has been a good one. Thanks to my family, friends, beau and coworkers — 2010 has been a year of growth and change, community and good music.

I’m going into my fifth year at The Seattle Times. Like every job, it has its down days and quirks. But, everyday as journalists we get to explore a community that is vibrant, diverse and is known for being just a little different. We have multimillionaires who live on Lake Washington, and refugees from all corners of the world. Farmers, software engineers, fishermen, semi-professional wrestlers, single moms and exhibitionists. Our editors support us in exploring our ideas and stories, and for that, I’m grateful. Our paper is family owned. Our staff won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news last year. And, it’s pretty awesome to hear Bernisms from the source EVERYDAY.

For weeks, I’ve been admiring photographers best of 2010 slideshows, and hoping to carve out some time to blog, myself. I plan to share more images over the next couple of weeks, but, here is a start.

Pallouse, Washington on route to White Mountains

Rosea’lee Ellis , of West Seattle, listens to Mad Rad Sunday, July 25, 2010 on the last day of the Capitol Hill Block Party. “I love them,” Ellis said. “Look at the crowd, everyone is dancing.”

Michael Daniels, 16, a Franklin High School student, jumps from rock to rock in the sunshine Sunday afternoon at Snoqualmie Falls. The falls, located about 25 miles from Seattle, is one of the state’s most popular scenic attractions. The waterfall is 268 feet in length, and descends over granite cliffs. Daniels said it was his first time at the waterfall. “It’s beautiful,” he said.

Chrissie Coxon, one of a dozen new teachers at West Seattle Elementary, is embracing the challenge of turning the school around. West Seattle Elementary is one of 18 schools in the state taking part in a major federal push to help the nation’s lowest-performing schools improve dramatically over the next three years. Coxon is serious about boosting achievement but likes to have fun, too.

A mechanic-electrician, who has been working at Mutual Materials for almost 35 years, shows off his hands after greasing the conveyor at the Newcastle brick plant. The family company started 110 years ago to make bricks for the rebuilding of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.

A woman prays inside St. James Cathedral during the installation of The Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain as the fifth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, in Seattle. The Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary is lit entirely by beeswax candles.

Enette Dumerin holds her 3-year-old twins, Carlebre (left) and Jeff Dumerin, in a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft about to take off Jan. 17, 2010 from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, headed for the United States. More than 180 evacuees were transported in the aircraft five days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated their homeland. The evacuees had ties to the U.S., either through citizenship or residency.

A tear rests on Kefler Ashley Zephyr’s eye, 3, as he and his mother are transported with 186 evacuees from Port-au-Prince, Haiti to Orlando, Fla. on a C-17 aircraft.

A male peacock looks out of a window in Robert and Sasha Stabbert’s garage Thursday, July 22, 2010, in Seattle. The recently captured bird had been roaming their Brighton neighborhood since springtime in south Seattle. The couple netted the creature after enduring many long nights of hearing its yelps and squawks from nearby trees and alleyways.

You could say Seattle vocalist-instrumentalist Amy Denio plays well with others. Besides writing music, she composes for choreographers and has had stints with bands and ensembles in Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Taiwan, Hungary, India and Italy. Right now, her projects include the Tiptons, Hell’s Bellows! (an accordion quartet), Correo Aereo (a Latin-American trio), the Yellow Hat Band (brass-band world music) and Kultur Shock, a “Bosnian Gypsy core” outfit that just completed a 40-city European tour.

Kou Lor(cq), 40, works in her flower fields that are located between Kent and Auburn Friday, August 6, 2010 in South King County. Around 1,300 Hmong live and work in Washington State, according to the census. This year, many Hmong Farmers lost their flower crops due to the cold, wet spring weather. Lor come to the United States in 1984 from a small village in Laos. Life in both counties is difficult, she said. In her home in Laos, there are no shoes and cars. But, there were also no bills, either.

Malissa Xiong, 15, arranges flowers for bouquets on a recent early morning at Pike Place Market. Xiong and her sister Jenny Xiong, 17, help her mother Kou Lor, 40, with the family business— Lor Garden based in Auburn. Due to a cold and rainy start to summer, Lor said 90 percent of her lilies were destroyed, along with around 50 percent of her sweet peas, sweet williams and irises. She said many flower farmers are struggling with the losses and late blooming crops. Kou Lor(cq), 40, works in her flower fields that were damaged from this year’s wet weather South King County. The Seattle area received a combined 5.3 inches of rainfall during May and June, compared with a historical average of 3.2.

The silhouettes of ice skaters reflect in the ceiling of the GE Plaza at Robson Square Monday, Jan. 4, 2010 in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. The location, formally known as the Robson Square ice rink, had not been active since 2000. GE and the Province of British Columbia renovated the rink, which will host performances and events during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia

Jack rests on a mattress while moving into their rented room, where they share a bathroom and kitchen with other residents. “It was just a huge sense of relief to just get the hell out of that tent,” Kim said. Although their family found housing, Kim then faced issues with beg bugs, landlords and finding help with childcare when looking for work. She also worried her unemployment assistance would run out at the end of the year. Finally, in December, a low-income housing organization hired Kim for part-time desk work.

Kim currently supports her family through unemployment checks and partial child support. She spent all her money relocating the family from Chicago, and putting their belongings in storage. Kim said the majority of her worry is for her son Jack. “I’m trying to do as much as I can to keep him having a normal childhood,” she said.

One of the first things Jack finds at their University District room is a spider. Jack is seen through a small window next to the front door. “They [the bugs] are amazing,” said Jack, who wants to be a scientist when he grows up. “He just loves observing things,” Kim said.

(From left) Skyline receiver Kasen Williams and Bellevue quarterback Kendrick Van Ackeren are The Seattle Times high-school football players of the year. Their portrait is taken inside of an old freight elevator at The Seattle Times building.

Despite being born without kneecaps and the bones in his forearms, Leitch lifts weights like everyone else during wrestling practice. The condition is called thrombocytopenia-absent radius or TAR syndrome. “Every day is a challenge and you’ve just got to fight through it and not let anything bring you down,” Leitch says.

Schuyler Lubin, 9, yells after being hit with a snowball Thursday morning Nov. 25, 2010 in at his friend Tod Vicencio’s, 11, home in Magnolia. The boys, including their friend Nick Peterson, 11, had been sledding and waging snowball fights since about 8 a.m.  They built snow forts yesterday, but needed to deconstruct them to get “more ammo.” The snow was starting to melt. “They are praying for more snow,” said Cheryl Feldman, Vicencio’s grandmother.

Katie Talmage descends into the chart house on the Schooner Zodiac during “Nauti-Girls” women’s sailing adventure in the San Juan Islands.

Worshipers light candles during the Palm Sunday service at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Seattle.

Palm Sunday service at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Seattle.

Downstream Pallouse Falls, Washington

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Fabrication Specialties employees Tracy Taft, on ground, Bob Qualheim, sitting, and Hans Hofstee, at left, prepare to install the first of three public sculptures created by University of Washington professor Jamie Walker at the new headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Vulcan Real Estate commissioned the three aluminum pieces of artwork, which will be on display in a public plaza on Terry Avenue North between Mercer Street and Republican Street. The 12-foot-tall sculpture named “Beacon,” above, was installed Tuesday. The sculpture “Cloud,” will be mounted 20-feet above the plaza. “Toto,” a sculpture intended to provoke a human-to-pet connection, will be installed at a later date.

Just a few blocks away from The Seattle Times offices, these sculptures were being installed at the new headquarters in South Lake Union. I waited for a couple of hours to see if I could come away with a photograph that was different than other art-installation images I’ve taken in the past. A lot of my photos from this shoot were taken with a long lens to keep in accord with safety parameters. However, at the end part of the process – when the sculpture was nearly secure – I was allowed access to the finishing touches. (I needed a hard hat, goggles, vest and gloves to get behind the roped off area.) The last moments of the installation were quick. But when several of the workers checked the base of the sculpture, it offered a good opportunity to capture an image with layers and depth.

Some staffers and viewers thought the photo had sexual overtones. That was not the intention. (Seriously!) But, because the image could be interpreted in a variety of ways it didn’t make the paper. I’m grateful it published in The Seattle Times photo blog, Picture This.

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Congregant after the first service at new First United Methodist Church on Denny Way in Belltown.

Members of the First United Methodist Church of Seattle, including members of the choir, carefully move a piano inside their new building between Sunday’s services. The group was making room to accommodate 100-voice choir for the 3 p.m. consecration ceremony.


A couple weekends ago, I sipped on coffee with my friend Heather and her partner Sarah at Hudson restaurant in Sodo. We talked about a number of things over breakfast — life, love, photography. During our conversation, one thing caught my ear: Heather said she has a digital hording problem. Digital hording?!? Oh dear, lady. We’re in good company. I have that problem, too.

These above two shots were taken last January during consecration ceremonies at First United Methodist Church. Today is November 2nd. I have thousands of photographs that are hidden away in obscure, ridiculously hard-to-find folders on my computer and hard drives. I spent hours after work tonight reorganizing and purging my poor MacBook Pro. The goal— to show more work from the 2010 and to protect my computer from a meltdown.

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