This past spring I photographed for Natalie Estate Winery, a small family run business located in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the setting is beautiful and feels very remote. They offer an extensive range of varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Meritage, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Gris, Rose of Pinot Noir. In order to make these wines their fruit is sourced from the Willamette Valley and select locations in the Pacific Northwest. I was especially taken with their 100 % Petit Verdot, often used as a blending grape in red blends. This is especially welcome to those whose tastes for wine expand beyond Pinot Noir. Boyd, the winemaker and his wife Cassandra Teegarden are the owners. When guests visit they personally greet you and offer complementary small bites as they pour wine for you. Boyd and Cassandra are genuinely warm and informative allowing for a fun wine tasting experience at their winery.
Walla Walla is one of my favorite wine destinations and I was excited to photograph for The Walls Winery, a relatively new winery. Everything about this winery is done with perfection, resulting in that exquisite bottle of wine. I initially did a series of portraits of the owner Mike Martin and business partner with winemaker Ali Mayfield as well as the core winemaking staff.
Over the last 2 years I photographed over 50 businesses for the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association. While I did not photograph all the businesses on the website, I did photograph the majority. This was an especially rewarding project because I live in the Montavilla Neighborhood. It is really a great cohesive neighborhood with an increasing number of wonderful places to shop and eat. I enjoyed meeting the various business owners who are contributing to the vibrancy of my hood. As this was a grant funded project, the goal was to create images that presented a human face to their storefront in a limited amount of time. These are some of my favorites.
During the late fall I photographed for Big Sky Landscaping. Their designs and work are outstanding. Their attention to detail in both the plantings and the hardscapes is remarkable. With the trend, especially in the northwest to create outdoor living spaces as a larger part of the home, Big Sky does a great job.
The most important way t0 approach this type of photography is to pay attention to the light, as it is with most forms of photography. So the early morning or evening light is the most appropriate time to best showcase their designs. This particular assignment was difficult because it is extremely windy in October in the town where I photographed. So working around blowing leaves was a bit challenging.
This past spring, I took a road trip to take photos for a feature story for Oregon Wine Press. I had never been to the Illinois Valley before and was excited to visit a new wine growing region in Oregon. Driving down from Portland the area seemed quite remote and beautiful with stunning views of the Siskiyou Mountains. Unfortunately once I got to my destination it rained almost every day with the exception of one afternoon when I went to visit Deer Creek Vineyards. It was not until then that I was fully able to appreciate how special this area is. Because I had never stayed in a tree house before I made arrangements to spend one night at Out’n’Abut Treehouse Tresort. I loved it and it was delightful to go to sleep up in the trees.
Deer Creek, Bridgeview, Foris and Augustino Estate are all located near Cave Junction.
Bridgeview’s vines are planted along the Sucker Creek, which has recently become problematic as the vineyard is losing valuable land to the creek.
Rene Eichman 3rd generation wine maker and co-owner continues the European winemaking tradition.
My one day of sunshine was happily spent at Deer Creek Vineyards with its breathtaking views of snow capped mountains. Owners Katherine and John Bryon restored this 1988 vineyard in 2010.
Augustino Vineyard, the southern most vineyard in the valley is a relatively new comer to Oregon with it’s treehouse tasting room. Also boasting beautiful views of the Siskiyou Mountains, the porch of the tasting room is a great place to spend time enjoying their wine.
Stephanie Pau recently joined Foris Vineyards as the vineyard’s new winemaker. She is the 4th, in the 30 year history of the winery. I am looking forward to trying her first vintage.
David Herzog owner of, as well as caramel maker for One Fork Farm Caramels, makes an outstanding and delicious product. So of course I was more than happy to photograph for his company. We decided to go with a “rustic” approach with the images that would complement their branding and packaging. It was also fun to style the caramels with the ingredients used in the various flavors. David wanted to create a product that used locally sourced ingredients such as Woodblock Chocolate, Jacobsen Salt and Portland’s Eastside Distilling. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite.
From truffle inspired dinners to participation in actual truffle foraging with trained dogs there are many events associated with the Oregon Truffle Festival. It is a truly a unique event in the United States and draws people from across the country. The Truffle Festival expresses a sense of place like no other event. Against a backdrop of Oregon Wine Country and covering a span of 10 days it celebrates the rich bounty of Oregon wine, culinary delights and of course Oregon Truffles.
Last year I partnered with talented winery owner and winemaker Mary Derby of DAMA Wines to produce a fine art black and white portrait of the notable women of wine in Walla Walla. At first we thought it would be fun to feature naked women. We actually collaborated on a lovely portrait of Mary just wearing her muck boots while holding a glass of wine and sitting on a wine barrel. While quite a lovely photo, not all of the women were receptive to the idea of posing nude! I could not exactly blame them.
I was then inspired by Annie Leibovitz’s work on the 2016 Pirelli Calendar. I wanted to focus on the women’s strength and character, by having the images all in black and white in the same location. Ali Mayfield generously donated the production space at The Walls Winery before it opened to serve as a “studio.” To further the Leibovitz aesthetic, I painted my own canvas backdrops to emulate her photographic style. The calendar itself was beautifully defined by graphic designer Whit Gurley of Angled End Identities.
It was also important to the women that a portion of the sales, once printing expenses were covered, would be donated to the Enology and Viticulture scholarship program at Walla Walla Community College. At first Mary and I were concerned that there would not be enough women to include in a 12 month calendar. We ended up with 16 – not all winemakers, but all who have an influential role in the local industry.
Back in November I had met Robert Mellen Rowett at a wine tasting industry event. I immediately fell in love with his sparkling wines. I was thrilled when shortly after, his business partner and wife Julie, contacted me to take some images to update their website for Mellen Meyer Winery. The first project was to collaborate on “winemaker” portraits. We had a vision of doing something that had a very northwest environmental winter feel to it. I definitely did not want a bright sunny day, and was hoping for a foggy morning. I was lucky and the weather was cloudy and misty and my subject photogenic!
The next project was to photograph their bottles of sparkling wine, as well as his Pinot Noir. Mellen Myer Winery’s primary focus is 0n Methode Champenoise. They are a small or boutique producer creating high quality and delicious sparkling wine. For me it was especially fun to edit because the labels are so beautiful! Photographing wine bottles is tricky because they are glass their surfaces are highly reflective. It is important that the label is beautifully lit, because I recognize that vineyards put much thought and expense into producing those labels.
I have photographed for Carlton Cellars in the past, but this time Robin wanted to focus on the menagerie of donkeys, goats, chickens, cats and the vineyard dog, Coltrane. While Dave just wanted a portrait of him with Robin and Coltrane in the vineyard, on my wish list was a family portrait featuring as many of the animals that we could possibly assemble and that would cooperate to some degree. I think we were able to accomplish what every one wanted from the photo shoot. It actually ended up as 2 shoots because on the first day a goat escaped from the coral and poor Robin ended up with 2 black eyes trying to entice, beg, and lasso the goat back to where he was suppose to be and not free and roaming through the vineyard. I was not able to finish up what we wanted to do until she healed. Yes, it was an adventure!