It’s January at Collin’s “clothing optional” Beach and Madeleine is walking away from us waist deep in the Willamette River. The cloudless sky is a crisp blue as winter's mid morning southern sun skims the tree tops desperately reaching it's sun hands to keep us warm. I can see snow capped Mt Saint Helens off in the distance and I can hear the flock of ducks  quacking behind us flying over Sauvie’s Island. The day is reminiscent of warm sunny comfort during the first days of Spring after a long brutal Portland winter, but in amazement we constantly remind ourselves that it is only January. We should be freezing as we stand there helping Eduardo Acorda on his test shoot. Edu is a photographer from San Francisco who has ties to Sandbox Studio just as I do. Over the years he has been a mentoring me having had years of life experience in the industry. Every couple of months he drives his adventure mobile up to Portland to shoot for Nau. This time around he threw together a team to do a test shoot after he wrapped up work shooting for Nau. There was Angela Borrelli who was on hair and makeup. Angela is "old school photography industry" with a mouth like a sailor who doesn't take shit from anybody. Every time I ask her how she is doing she gives me the "Oh I'm doing great! How are you doing sweetie? Or shall we cut the bullshit chit chat and talk about how we are really doing?" Then there was the talented Sarah Van Raden who really is the sweetest person I've ever met. She was on wardrobe and styling. I've known these people since my introduction to the photo industry years ago and we were finally having the opportunity to work together thanks to Edu.

    “I’ve been pulled over about ten times in my life, eight of those times I’ve managed to talk my way out of a ticket. Knock on wood. I’m driving down to Los Angeles at the end of the month in my unregistered car so I can sell it in LA and get rid of that curse I’ve been baring for all these years.” I state this personal statistic as we eat lunch around Edu’s adventure mobile discussing our cars, life and travel.  “You are taking a trip down south?” replies Serena. “I am going down to San Francisco next weekend to visit, I’ve never been. Maybe we will run into each other.” Edu chimes in, “Dude, I have a gig in San Francisco this friday if you don’t mind hitting the road early, it would be awesome if you could assist me on the shoot.” I pause to think for a second. This means I’d have to leave a week earlier than planned. All the plans I made to prepare for the trip will either have to be rushed or left out. I was up for the challenge, “I’ll be there!”

    The long awaited rain crashed against my windshield as I left the city. Bills paid, work squared away, bedroom ready for a month subletted out to a close friend of mine moving back to Portland, I hit the road in a hurry a week ahead of schedule. Putting it all behind me, there was nothing to think about but the open road in front of me. Two hours into the drive I see police lights flashing in my rearview mirror. Shit! For one very brief moment in the monotony of the 5 freeway I lost focus from keeping an eye out for highway patrol by looking down at my iPhone. The officer walks up to my window, “I pulled you over because your tags expired over a year ago. Why is that?” I go onto explain how my car has this problem with it’s onboard computer that won’t let me pass smog, that I’ve invested hundreds of dollars into this problem that I can’t fix, that I am traveling down to LA to sell the car. I show him paperwork that I’ve had prepared just for this very pitch. Turns out my insurance has been canceled for a few months as well. Fuck! My insurance company never told me. I reasoned with the officer, digging deep into who he is beneath that badge. He takes all my paper work and walks back to his car... The anxiety of not even making it past Eugene is building. He returns to my passenger window with the verdict. “I am writing you up for not being insured but I will let you go on not having your car registered because I can see you have been making an effort to fix this problem. You have to figure out a way to get your car insured now!” It’s 4:55PM, my insurance company closes in five minutes.  ”See that sign right there? You can’t pass that sign until you have valid proof of insurance. Not having insurance is a big deal. I’ve been hit by somebody without insurance and I’m still paying off that bill. It sucks! I am going to wait here and if you pass that sign I will write you another ticket and impound your car!” He then reaches to his chest to stop recording the conversation, walks back to his police car and without hesitation speeds off down the 5 freeway. He did his job well. Rather than giving money to an insurance company for a few months of insurance, I am gratefully giving that money to the state of Oregon. Make that eight and a half tickets I’ve talked my way out of. I continue my anxiety ridden drive to San Fran.

    I’ve lived in Portland for almost four years now and I have never seen Fred Armisen or Carrie Brownstein filming Portlandia, not once unlike the rest of the entire town. Coincidentally, it is not until I am sitting in a tiny café in The Mission a day after arriving to San Francisco that I've come across one of the two. There she was, Carrie Brownstein sitting across from me having a cup of coffee, eagerly writing away. San Francisco's way of making me feel welcomed. The next day is the big photo gig.


There are more photos on the way of the shoot but Edu would like me to hold off on releasing them. Most of them are part of an amazing project he has been working on. I have seen the images from this project and they are AMAZING! Expect his images and mine from the shoot to come soon!