Sunday, December 30, 2007

Old Friends

The other day I was walking to the camera shop in Downtown Seattle when an old high school buddy pinged me on my cell phone. "Dude, where are you"?

It turns out that we were just a few blocks away from each other. We hooked up for beersks and lunch when another high school buddy called. He was downtown as well--It was the first time I was with my two best friends from high school in 10 years.

The last time we all got together for beers was during our senior year before a football game. We were subsequently caught by the school disciplinarian and suspended for 1 week!

Brido the extrovert hasn't changed a bit. Sloth man, the introvert hasn't changed either. Can ya guess who is who?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Family Spoons...and Steps

It was great to spend my first holiday season with family in 3 years.

The Bleakney's have a gathering tradition that goes back many, many, years--we hang spoons on our noses. Some participate, others observe.

My niece, Morgantini can't quite hang a spoon from her nose yet, but she's walking now--I think that the spoon will come shortly!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A tourist in my own backyard?

For the past week I've been playing tourist in my own backyard. I live in downtown Seattle, just above the Pike Place Market--one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. I go there on a regular basis to meet friends, buy fresh produce, chocolate croissants, velvet foam lattes, and the best mac and cheese around. This week, I went to the market with a camera around my neck rather than a shopping bag--I did the same at the waterfront tourist shops--I even went to the Cheesecake Factory downtown (it was so full and the line so long that I couldn't even saddle up to the bar for their famed blue-cheese-olive dirty Martini). With so much of my focus of late being on the organization of my travel/work schedule to far flung destinations over the next 9 months or so, it's nice to learn that my own home base camp is also a pretty cool place to be a tourist with a camera--and I don't even have to get on a plane to be there!
Here's what I saw:

Seattleite author Amanda Ford takes a stylish spin for lunch at the Ballard Sunday Market.

The daughter of a young tourist family from Spain in more enthralled by her juice box than endless Salmon fish vendors in the Pike Place Market.

Jose, a recent arrival from Guatemala checks for employment at the Pike Place Fish Market. His friend from Mexico already has a good job there.

Mom maneuvers with baby through the homeless fringe en route to dinner in trendy Belltown.

Late night vendor closes shop after packing unsold fish in storage for the evening.

Seattle "Urban Bicycle Tour" group obeys the new "off your bike" rule in the downtown sculpture park.

Sylvia the Mummy at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Photo Gallery "PEOPLE"

I've added a new photo gallery to my portfolio site called PEOPLE. I plan on adding to the gallery over the next few months as I travel through Colombia and Alaska.

Just a few years ago, many of beautiful National Parks and landscapes that I will visit in Colombia were off limits to the public because of drug and political-related violence. While I’m excited to make pictures in these locations, I’m also looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the Colombian people—who are starting to explore their newly founded personal freedoms as well. In Medellin, most Gen Xers spent the bulk of their nightlife locked indoors in fear of getting tangled up in street and drug crime. Their home was deemed the “murder capital of the world.” However, in the past few years, cities like Medellin and Cartagena have sprung back to life—cafĂ© and nightlife culture has emerged as groups of hipsters and international tourists spill into the sidewalks from trendy clubs and art scenes. What must it feel like to be able to travel within your own city and country without fear for the first time in a generation? Is this fearless freedom real?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Voy a Colombia...and then...Alaska

In January I'm setting sail to the port city of Cartagena for a tour of Colombia. I'm hooking up with a friend from Bogota who is helping me put my ideas in motion and will travel with me when I arrive there.

What ideas?
I'll be packing a camera, pen, notepad and folding bicycle seeking answers to two main questions: 1) Are we (Western Tourists) ready for Colombia and 2) Is Colombia ready for us?

Consensus from people on the ground--locals, tourists, and expats is a big YES to both of the above. Pablo Escobar is dead, kidnappings are down, the Pan-American highway and several key tourist destinations are now under control of the Govt. The New York times has published three articles in the past year about the fruits of travel in Colombia and have ranked Bogota 21st out of 53 new global hot-spots to see in 2008. There's even a group on titled "COLOMBIA, THE ONLY RISK IS WANTING TO STAY"--the group has over 5,000 members.

The US Govt. web site on travel lists Colombia alongside Iraq as a code red danger zone. What's the real danger today? Who decides when a country is safe for travel? And why visit Colombia in the first place--what's there to see?

Along the way I hope to interview some of the famed international cyclists that the country has a storied tradition of producing, heads of the national parks (who have seen their crowned jewels transform from Guerrilla war zones to international tourist destinations), and sample the arts, cafe-culture, and outdoor adventure scene in this up and coming travel destination.

After Colombia, I'm toggling from tropical sun to the -40 degree Alaskan winter to cover what just might be the world's coldest, most brutal 100 mile bicycle and foot races. More on that to come.

I'll keep this blog up to date once I touch down.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Corey Rich and New Media

In September I was in Jackson, Wyoming learning how to make better pictures. I spent a lot of time with Corey Rich. This month, some of his new media work is being featured by Apple. It's killer stuff, check it out. now online

What is it? is the portal for my documentation of the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race that I photographed in France last summer. The site provides access to galleries with thousands of photos for participants to search, download, or purchase professional, large format prints. It also provides a community blog/comment resource for all of those with an interest in the event. Over time, I'll post news updates and multi-media stuff too.

I've been on the road so much lately that I haven't been able to put much energy into a "home" for the photos from this event. But I'm stoked that it's online now!



Monday, December 10, 2007

Cycling Plus UK

My photo-set from the Paris Brest Paris found a home in the largest bicycling magazine in the UK, Cycling Plus. The pics will be used for a feature article by writer Isabel Best (who completed the event) in the January issue. Isabel writes for mainly British national newspapers and magazines such as the Financial Times, the Independent on Sunday, The Observer, Elle, Monocle/Wallpaper, Procycling and Blast.

If you're interested and live in the US wanna pick up a copy - I think that the issue can be found somewhere in the never-ending aisles of magazines at Barnes and Noble.


Friday, December 7, 2007

On Books and Birthdays

In 2005, my birthday stopped functioning as a marker for age, but rather a reminder to be thankful for my time on the planet during the past 365 days.

This year, I'm especially thankful for being in a position to document my life's experiences from the seat of a bicycle, both photographically and editorially in the pages of a coffee table book. A few weeks ago, Rich Clarkson and Associates, offered to package this book for me. Rich was the former Director of Photography for National Geographic Magazine. He also used to make pictures for NCAA Track and Field and spent a lot of time at my alma matter, the University of Oregon--where I spent 5-years as a track man. The people he's teamed me up with to put this book together are all truly amazing. I couldn't imagine a better group to work with on this project!

Last year, I spent December 6th camped behind a shack in the middle of dessert in Northern Argentina. It was cold, windy, sandy and miserable. Two days before, my traveling companions and I ran out of food and water and had to turn around and bicycle back to the closest village to avoid dehydration. But the sunset was perfect.

Yesterday, I spent my birthday scribbling outlines for book chapters in the comforts of my Seattle loft and then reminisced at diner over a bottle of Argentine Malbec at a tapas bar in Seattle.

Ribbon Of Road Selected "Best Of Seattle"

Good news from this month from Seattle Magazine. They called to inform me that the Ribbon Of Road tour was selected for "Best Of The Year" issue under the category of "Best Good Deeds". Check it out at the Seattle Magazine Web Site.