Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Story of The Mischief Project

A couple years ago I decided to do a personal project on something I try to cultivate in my life: Mischief. Often while traveling, a rooftop with a view presents itself. Or maybe it's a body of water after dancing in the hot night air. There's something I crave about breaking the rules, misbehaving and doing what I want like a personal, clandestine act of freedom. I feel alive playing by my rules- without hurting anyone else of course.

I considered creating images that represented mischief in general, but decided to make it personal (since it already was) and recreate three mischief stories from my life. I wanted the images to be pieces of the story that when seen together made it clear.

Each story had it's own challenges.  The original pot brownie story was me accidentally eating a pot brownie at a friend's house while waiting for them to come home, but that wasn't going to be easy to tell visually. There was also the concern of it looking like someone was being dosed- not the intention! With the skinny dipping story it was more technical. I needed a way to light a dark dock and make it look natural. Building a lamppost out of a 4x4, clamp light and generator was the ticket. In the final story, it took me months to find a location. I wanted an old, classic fire escape and a rooftop with a view of downtown- not an easy find when you have to ask for permission ;). Finally a friend of a friend had the perfect spot!

After they were all shot and I had 5-6 final images for each story, I had to figure out the best way to print and present them. A collage, a linear booklet? I enlisted Joe Smith (http://lookatjoe.com/) to bring in professional design and we brainstormed over lots of coffee. Joe wanted to go big- newspaper print with a large layout of all the images. I liked the idea, but know the creatives I'm promoting to are more likely to keep a smaller piece. That's how we came up with a small card that folded out into a bigger piece: as you unfolded it, the story unfolded as well. 

Making that work was another story. Joe and I sat down with printouts and scissors and after a while I was convinced it was impossible. But an hour later we had it!

We also decided to write recipes for mischief for each story. A pinch of spontaneity, a dash of chemistry etc. It was fun coming up with an ingredient that matched each shot and produced a reward. The reward, be it an unforgettable memory or the feeling of being alive, is why we all create mischief in the first place. Joe then created the layout and the type for the recipes and I got 'em printed. 

A lot of love went into trimming, cutting, folding and labeling the cards and I'm very grateful to all who helped! Here's a video of the final folded product. And the three stories can be seen on my website: here. Now get out there and start creating mischief! Tag your own stories #themischiefproject

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017's Holiday Card

As you probably know, I decided to start creating a fun holiday card with my cat Goose 5 years ago. I wanted it to reflect my personality and activities I like to do as well as be funny and show some photography and photoshop skill. Here are past cards:

This year was a bit different as injuries prevented me from doing a lot of the activities I enjoy. Goose also has arthritis in one of his paws. :( So I reflected our year accurately, showing the many frustrations 2017 brought with it:

I had a lot of fun creating this card and kept going with photoshop until it was perfect. Here's the original shot:

Mostly I cleaned things up, put Trump on TV and added some contrast. Changing the wall color was a last second idea that I think really made the photo. I'm most proud of googling the monitoring machines and 'turning them on'. I even gave myself high blood pressure and a high heart rate. Then I had to add Goose. Here's his original shot and then him cut out and hissing:

Who knows what we'll get up to next year. Here's to 2018, Happy New Year! 

-Tegra & Goose

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Travel Assignment for Stern Magazine

Last summer I was on assignment for Stern Magazine, photographing a 5 day trek in the Corsican Mountains... with my left arm in a brace healing from an elbow dislocation. The first day our German guide Yanni took one look at me and said, 'Nein, I can't take you, it's too dangerous'. Stephan Maus, the writer, encouraged me to prove him wrong and that's what I did. With one good arm, I hiked to the highest peak and documented an incredible adventure. I healed my elbow in cold spring water, got proposed to by an 80 year old sheep herder and made friends with a wonderful group of people. The writing and photography was so loved by Stern that they turned the usual 3 page travel slot into a 7 page feature! I'm very happy with how it came out and want to thank my photo editor Angelika Hala, Stephan Maus and eventually Yanni for believing in me! 

Some other favorites from the trip:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Voices from Standing Rock

Voices from Standing Rock
By Tegra Stone Nuess & Mike Nuess

My chest tightened and my thoughts scurried on the morning of November 26 as we pulled onto the highway on our two-day journey to Standing Rock, North Dakota. Was this anxiety? I’m not usually an anxious person but I had no idea what to expect in the next week. Bad Sunday had just happened, when police shot people in the head with rubber bullets, tear-gassed them and fired water cannons on folks in 20-degree weather. Facebook was a stream of fear-inducing accounts about what was going on. But the calling for my father Mike, our friend Noel and myself to go see for ourselves and hopefully contribute was greater. We carried donated grass-fed beef from the Lazy R Ranch, cash from several friends and a large bag of winter coats—all stuffed into dad’s old Toyota Tercel.

As soon as we arrived at Oceti Sakowin Camp, my anxiety lifted and the only feeling I had was excitement. ‘Welcome home!’ said the greeter at the gate. We drove slowly down Flag Road into camp and were met with smiles and waves. We set up our camp in the first winter blizzard and began to wander. We soon came upon a truck rolling to a stop. A woman emerged into the roaring snow, raised her arms to the sky and began whooping in obvious joy. She grinned at us as we approached. “I’m back!” she sang into the wind. Noel gave her a congratulatory hug and we celebrated the return of the Colville Confederated Tribe’s Patty Sam Porter. It was only later that we learned of her courageous 250-mile paddle from the headwaters of the Missouri. And so we began an amazing week with 5000+ peaceful, prayerful and wonderfully fun people. 

The community of this incredible place is what struck me the most. I hadn’t realized how much I missed this sense of camaraderie and connection in my world. Here people take care of each other and consciously practice calling in instead of calling out when differences are discovered. It felt like the way we’re supposed to live—hopefully it’s the future of our world.

Most media only shows 10% of what Standing Rock is about—police and contractors attacking nonviolent protectors.  That’s important, but “We’re Missing 90% of the Dakota Access Pipeline Story,which is a celebration of both uniqueness and unity among tribes, cultures and races who respect our planetary home and are here to seek a sustainable future for all. So dad and I decided to bring you personal stories from a few of the many people we met during our brief stay, moments people shared with us, whose stories spoke to us and we hope they speak to you, too.

Magdelion Moondrop’s Story

The Compassionate Power of the Feminine.

         Hailing from Colorado, Moondrop is a quiet, young woman who is quick to smile and give you a hug. In her calm, peaceful voice, she told me the story of the women-led, silent action on the police-blockaded bridge on Sunday November 27th, seven days after Bad Sunday. When she arrived at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, she felt that many women shared her desire for a women’s group. Having been a part of many women-focused circles before, she helped call a meeting together of about 40 women, which grew to a daily gathering. They created a safe place for women to share their stories, their challenges and to discuss the goal of a women-led action to cross the Missouri River.

Led by Cheryl Angel, Lyla June and Starhawk, three powerful and unitive indigenous leaders, the group gathered on the morning of the 27th to prepare their bodies and minds. Moondrop said the sweat lodge that morning cleared their spirits as they cried and released, providing room for strength and prayer. Then 100 or so women and men trained on how to remain silent and signal to each other. Starhawk taught them to stay grounded in their center and to do so by imagining what they stand for here. Moondrop was amazed at how completely unmovable they became when they stood for what they believe in. They drilled on their formation to protect the indigenous leaders as they performed their ceremonies.

Then it was time, and the women silently formed into a steam that would pass through the camps and onto the bridge. Moondrop said, “it was so powerful to feel the men so willing to step back and support us and stand behind us.” People silently joined them as they walked through both Rosebud and Oceti camps and the stream of women became a river. They met resistance from the council of young men who weren’t aware of what was happening, but Cheryl Angel had approval from the grandma elder, and ‘the feminine walked forth’, continuing. Another dam of male veterans resisted the woman again at the bridge, but they looked them silently in the eyes and conveyed that it was time to let the women lead, to trust them. LaDonna, the woman who started Standing Rock’s opposition to DAPL, joined at this time and Moondrop knew they were now unstoppable. The veterans acquiesced and helped by asking the Army Corps if the women could come to the front and do a ceremony. With thousands of people behind them in total silence, the elder women walked across the bridge through the former war zone, through broken glass, shells, dried blood and teargas-soaked clothing; to the edge of the razor wire where they knelt. They offered forgiveness, wept for the atrocities, wept for their ancestors, prayed for the hearts of the police, and begged for their compassion. “It was the most beautiful moment of my life to witness these women being so vulnerable in the face of armed guards with guns and tanks on the other side of a razor wire fence and to witness them so open and humble and weak, but so strong in their vulnerability. “It was like a radiative, thick blanket of peace washing over everything,” Moondrop recounted. A police officer offered to safely guide the elders down to the river to perform a water ceremony. It was the first time anyone had been allowed on the other side of the river. Afterwards, the supporting men back on the hill parted for the returning river of women who silently lead everyone back to camp. Moondrop felt like it was the rise of a matriarchy and the rise of women finding their voice and their power to create a peaceful outcome here. She could feel everyone’s thankfulness as they reentered camp. As she finished her story, I was struck by how much sense it makes to enact change in this peaceful, compassionate and feminine way. When fear is released, walls can come down and understanding can take place. I myself am extremely thankful to these women for leading the charge.

Grandma Diane’s Story

I’m doing this for my Grandchildren...

         Everyone knows Diane as Grandma. She greets them with a big hug and she’s one of those women that feel like your own grandmother as soon as you meet them. Every day she runs the California Kitchen, creating delicious, healthy food for the camp. Her tribe, the Bishop Paiute, along with the Lone Pine Paiute Tribe and the Big Pine Tribe (all from Owens Valley near Bishop, CA) collaborated to set up one of several communal kitchens. Her original kitchen tent grew to three large military tents comprised of a dinning tent, a storage tent lined with shelves stacked high with donated food and a cooking tent full of volunteers prepping every meal. Diane loves to cook, and when back home she often cooks dinner for her large family. She also caters tribal community events, serving 500-700 people. So this is a perfect fit.

When I asked her why she came to Standing Rock, she said there were two main reasons. The first is that they have been fighting their own water battle with Los Angeles for years. The 1939 land exchange took 60,000 acres away from her tribe, taking all their water with it. The tribes filed a lawsuit against LA in 1998 that still hasn’t been resolved. “Our tribe is known as the water protectors. So when the cry went out, we knew we had to come.” She hopes this will bring light to other tribes’ battles for land and water around the country.

The second reason is that her heart was pulling her here. She has 15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren and she wants them to have a future with clean water to drink. When she was about 9 or 10 years old her grandfather told her that there would be a cause that would bring all the native peoples together, as well as the rest of the world, and we would have to fight for something very important. As soon as she arrived at Standing Rock she felt his whole spirit and knew he’d brought her here. She said, “I’m doing this for my grandchildren and my future.” Thank you so much, Grandma.

Sylvia’s Story

How Compassionate Solidarity Dissolved my Fear.

Sylvia is a white woman who came to stand in solidarity with her indigenous sisters and brothers at Standing Rock, to help protect Mother Earth. She was arrested and caged inside a chain linked ‘dog kennel’ with several other women. Her terror grew as she sat on the cold ground thinking about what would come: degrading searches, trumped up felony charges, the expensive logistics of long-distance court appearances.

Then a woman came and sat close, facing her. “I was scared and she could see it. ‘You have to go somewhere inside yourself,’ the woman said. Then she began to sing.” Sylvia did not understand the words of the woman’s native song but she felt it begin to soothe her. She felt all the women quietly, soothingly with her. She began to feel at ease. Everyone seemed to relax and feel at ease. And then, just as the last note of the song faded, a loud voice erupted from the speaker system, summoning her by name.

Suddenly all the women simultaneously reacted with hoots of laughter. Sylvia arose and walked to her fate, at ease in some calm place inside herself.

Wanda’s Story

How the Police Blockade is Affecting Cannon Ball.

Wanda lives in the Cannon Ball district of the Standing Rock Reservation. She cooks in the community center and is thankful for all the donations of food and clothing that have come to their community since the DAPL opposition began. However, the Army Corps’ closure of Highway 1806 has negatively impacted their town. 1806 is the fastest and most direct route from the city of Bismarck south to Cannon Ball, which sits just a couple miles south of the police-blockaded bridge and the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
On the night of November 28th, just as the three-day blizzard started to hit, Wanda’s son had one of his bad seizures. He fell outside the community center. Friends found him and hurried to protect him from the 30 mile-an-hour gusts. The ambulance finally arrived and took him to Sanford Hospital in Bismarck. Wanda followed in her car for a harrowing 3 hour, a trip that normally takes 45 min in normal weather on 1806. But the 1806 closure forced her to take the longer Highway 24-to-Highway 6 route in a blizzard, at night with icy roads. “It was scary, but I had to get up there to be with my son.” Whether or not it was deliberate, the roads weren’t plowed until she got close to Bismarck.

She implores the police to please open 1806 because the closure makes it hard for the people who live here. She was also concerned for those who live in Bismarck and must travel the longer route for work. Her son is now back home and doing well, but Wanda hopes the road will open soon, for everyone’s safety.

Raymond’s Story

“Our ancestors make things happen.”

Raymond Kingfisher is an easygoing, friendly and humorous person of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana who now lives in Western Washington State. He is a regular speaker at camp meetings who has a knack for addressing sensitive, serious and sacred issues before a large group and then switching it up with a subtle comment that restores laughter and lightness to a somber audience.

This was his third stay at Standing Rock.  He travels between stays to raise funds and collect supplies for the water protectors here. This third time he pulled a canoe down the Missouri with a Puyallup Canoe Family, together with The Colville Tribes, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and others as far away as Alaska. Their group of about 40 people pulled past the Sacred Stones—rocks ground round and polished by a whirlpool that lies at the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers. At one point they were forced ashore in a massive, life-threatening (See Patty Sam Porter’s Story) hailstorm and upon the land of local North Dakotans, who sheltered them until the storm passed. They finally arrived at Standing Rock, a long chain of canoes and dug outs roped together end-to-end, where their group was received by song. But, laughed Raymond, their greeters had to be told the custom was to receive each vessel with a welcoming song. And then everyone laughed and several welcoming songs were sung that day.

Raymond worries about supplies being cut off or confiscated and suppliers being ticketed, fined or arrested. “It’s my third time back bringing supplies. I’m protecting water for not just native people but for people from all walks of life, and for future generations. That’s why I’m here.”

Perhaps Robert F Kennedy was right when he recently came here and said that this peaceful convergence at Standing Rock “is kinda the spear tip of the front line in the battle over the transition from an old energy economy to a new energy economy. And we know that we have to do that…. Today wind and solar are much cheaper…. so the only way the carbon cronies can keep their domination of the marketplace is by constructing a lot of infrastructure, so that …the people who invested…the Citibanks, the pension funds…now have to see oil going through that pipeline for years…long after any justification for oil is long gone.”
The water protectors of Standing Rock know how foolish that locked-in investment would be, how grievously it would harm not only water but also all of the exquisitely interdependent ecological processes of Mother Earth. They know a clean, sustainable and abundant future for all is possible, quickly available, and so urgently necessary. May the spear tip shine brightly and swiftly pierce all our hearts.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Travel Article for Buick Magazine

So it's been about a year since I've posted, because well, I thought blogs were a thing of the past. Who knows if anyone reads this anymore. However, recently I realized I miss writing about my gigs and adventures, and it's a nice log to look back on. So, it's been a great year of shooting what I love: travel and adventure!

Lets start with a job from this summer- a big travel story on Seattle for Buick Magazine. For a few days I ran around town capturing new and interesting things as well as iconic favorites. It was fun getting to work with writer Ted Alvarez on what we think makes Seattle cool. One of the most unique things, and fun things to shoot, was SUP Yoga in the Puget Sound. A new hotel and a top new chef and restaurant were also really fun to photograph. I feel a lot more up to date on the hip spots in my city! Check out the article below (I did not shoot the car images).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Work for Booking.com

In the whirlwind of the summer, I did a big job for Booking.com. If you book a stay in Seattle on their website they'll send you a Seattle Travel guide comprised of all of my images. I spent 6 days crossing my favorite city, capturing all the different neighborhoods and attractions. It was exhausting, but super fun and it helped that I know this city so well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Walmart World Magazine Assignment

Back in May I got a great assignment shooting for Walmart World Magazine. They were doing an employee profile and wanted me to go out and photograph one of their employees who climbs mountains on his days off. So I set off to Granite Mountain to hike to the top with Farzad Ahmadi. I soon realized why this man is so special. Greeting everyone on the trail with a huge grin, Farzad's good nature poured out of him. He offered to carry my gear, fed me a delicious lunch including special cookies from his home country of Iran and patiently followed my slow pace up the 4 mile 3800 foot gain to the granite boulder topped peak. He regaled me with stories of climbing Mt Rainier, Mt Shasta and more and he gladly posed for many photos along the way. After I caught my breath at the top, I had a moment of really realizing how lucky I am to do what I do. Here I was combining my love of the outdoors with photography AND getting paid for it. I get to go to new, beautiful places and meet wonderful people. But enough bragging, here are my favorite shots including the feature photo that went to print.