Notes from the TPN Seattle Convention
This blog finishes up re-publishing articles I wrote for the Travel Photographers Network. Where do travel photographers go when in Seattle? To find out, read this articl eabout the August 2007 meeting of the Travel Photographers Network.
Not sure what to expect, I rolled out of bed at 5:30 to try and get to Seattle before 7:00. Sure I had met these people on-line at TPN, and we comment on each other’s images in the forums, but I’m apprehensive. Meeting someone in person is totally different than on line. Tom Guffey suggested meeting for breakfast at Lowell’s restaurant in the Pike Place Market, so after finding a rare parking spot on the street, I walked into Lowell’s at 7:00 on the nose and didn’t see a soul with a camera. Lowell’s is a fairly small place, but it does cover three floors (a description that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but trust me on this one), and going to the top floor I finally spy someone with a camera. We kind of looked at each other and ventured, “Are you with the travel photographers?”
It was Dan Parker, up from Colorado. Then looking down the stairs there were more cameras. A few quick introductions later and I had met Tim Goodspeed, from Portland, Oregon, and the master of the show himself, Jim White. We and grabbed a big, round table on the top floor with a view of Elliot Bay. Soon, Tom Guffey showed up and, finally, Sheril Foust. A small turnout perhaps, but a group overflowing with photographic talent (not to mention, as I was to find out later, a lot of BS as well).
The “convention” actually started the night before (Friday), when several of the attendees met for liquid refreshments in the Marriott lounge. Saturday’s session started with eggs, bacon, hash browns, orange juice, and coffee (one must have coffee in Seattle, where there are usually more than four coffee shops within any city block). Over breakfast, Jim asked people’s opinions concerning the TPN site: what we liked or disliked, what improvements could be made, or how the site could be changed for the better, ideas for attracting and keeping a larger membership. Every convention must have some “housekeeping” work to do, and I guess this was it for this one.
Then talk turned to what to photograph. Tom played local host, at least for Saturday. He distributed Seattle maps, indexed with 30 great photographic locations. A second sheet gave a description of each location along with the type of photos that might be taken there. A thumbnail photograph taken from the location also accompanied each description. We talked about where to go, but the first choice was easy. We were sitting in one of the premier travel photography locations in the city: Pike Place Market, or number 6 on the Guffey List.
We ventured back downstairs, and the marketplace that had been relatively empty at 7:00 a.m. was now bustling. Cameras were pulled out and image making begun. Pike Place Market is more than a farmer’s market in the heart of the city; it’s a mélange of everything Seattle. It has fish, fruit, flowers and forest; wine, water, beer and coffee; there are men in business suits, men in fishing overalls, and homeless men; tourists and locals; shoppers and protesters; and above all, a lot of photographic subjects. As it turned out, the 100th anniversary of the market was the week we were there, so the market was extra crowded and extra crazy. We fanned out and shot like crazy.
Somehow, we all found each other again, near a street performer playing an erhu (a two-stringed Chinese violin; I can’t report that he was making much money), taking pictures of a man with a parrot. Jim started asking about pub’s (turns out Jim White is almost always asking about pubs), so we ventured over to an Irish pub (Kells) located in the Post Alley portion of the market. There, we drank liquid refreshments while Jim regaled us with stories of Israeli Mossad agents and old Swiss women (believe me, you had to be there to understand). After more discussions about where what and when to shoot, we headed off to the Center for Wooden Boats & the Maritime Heritage Museum, also known as number 11 on the Guffey List.
The Center for Wooden Boats is on the southern shore of Lake Union, at the northern end of downtown Seattle; a brief car ride from the market. The center has more than 100 restored, historic wooden boats and is adjacent to the Maritime Heritage Museum. The weekend of the TPN convention, it was hosting an event featuring steam-powered boats. We wandered the docks, photographing boats, steam engines, and reflections.
Tired and hungry, the crew decided to head back down to the waterfront to recharge batteries (in the hotel) and stomachs at a seafood restaurant. We chose Anthony’s Pier 66 across the street from the recharging batteries (at the Marriott). This was also a choice location because next to the restaurant is a pier-top view of the waterfront, also known as number 3 on the GuffeyList.
After crashing a wedding reception that had reserved said pier-top view (well actually, we only crashed the party set up, but they did lock the gate after us), we headed over to the Marriott lounge for some liquid refreshment while waiting for the golden hours near sunset.
The golden hours didn’t appear, clouds did. But one doesn’t have the chance to photograph Seattle everyday (or at least for four of the six of us); so clouds or not, we drove around the bay to West Seattle and found a great spot along Alki Beach with a view of downtown, also known as number 1 on the Guffey List. Daylight faded, and we captured the evening blues and downtown lights. Day one was over, and with it the skies were threatening rain. Tom Guffey begged off on day two; and I drove home not if I would return the next day or not. The company was great, but I can shoot Seattle in the rain anytime.
Sunday morning didn’t bring rain, but there wasn’t much sun either. I stayed home and dug a ditch (somewhat telling as to the conditions that I would stay home to dig a ditch rather than go shooting). But as I dug, the clouds parted, and it started to look like a halfway decent day. I traded the shovel for my camera and headed back.
Meanwhile, after a disappointing sunrise, Tim Goodspeed headed home to Portland. Dan was staying up on Whidbey Island and, like me, was slow in getting back to the city. So Jim and Sheril walked down the waterfront to see the Seattle Aquarium, also known as number 4 on the Guffey List. Around noon, both Dan and I appeared at the Marriott and now, with the group down to four, we again ventured out. We walked down the waterfront, which was crowded with tourists and seagulls, over to the Pioneer Square district, also known as number 7 on the Guffey List.
Pioneer Square, at the southern end of downtown, is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. It is a National Historic District and contains a portion of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (the other portion is in Skagway, Alaska). We indeed found historic buildings, squares, statues, and totems. We even found a waterfall (in the Waterfall Garden, a small park that marks the birthplace of the United Parcel Service). Jim led us down a dark back alley to see some of the underside of the city. This spot was not on the Guffey List, so we labeled it number 31.
We continued our walking tour, soon encountering dragons on the street lights: a sign we were entering the International District, also known as number 8 on the Guffey List. This district houses many Asian restaurants and shops. However, it seemed the favorite subject in the International District was a huge flock of pigeons, easily numbering over one thousand. Also not on the Guffey List, we labeled this spot number 32.
Back through Pioneer Square, taking time to photograph Pioneer Square Park and Pergola (which dates from 1905), we walked back to the waterfront, stopping again at number 3 for more shots from the top of Pier 66 (sans wedding reception). Then back over to the Marriott for liquid refreshment and relaxation.
Hunger called, so with our final photographic destination in mind, we piled in my car and headed to the base of Queen Anne Hill. There, we found another more liquid refreshments in yet another Irish pub and enjoyed a meal of buffalo wings (which Jim reports are not commonly found in England) and salad (okay, it was only celery sticks that came with the wings). The evening promised better light than the day before, and as the sunset approached, we drove up to Kerry Park, also known as number 10 on the Guffey List.
Kerry Park is halfway up Queen Anne Hill, just north of downtown Seattle. It has a fantastic view of the city, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier. The mountain was not visible that evening, but the sunset wasn’t bad, and as the lights of the city came on, we clicked away.
With that, and of course some more liquid refreshment at the Marriott lounge after the Kerry Park shoot, the TPN convention was over. I started the weekend apprehensive about meeting people I only knew from on-line. I ended with more good memories than pictures (that’s saying something considering number of compact flash cards I filled!).