Week 2 | September 27th - October 3rd

This week I learnt all about time-lapse photography and I loved it.  I cannot wait to share it with my clients and to just have fun with my family.  We could time-lapse the kids brushing their teeth, eating breakfast and maybe sleeping...riveting!  We also talked about logos, business plans, marketing and I'm learning Indesign.  Gosh, so much to get my business all caught up on. This weekend was going to be the last weekend that Glacier National Park would have the road open so I jumped in my car and headed up to see this beautiful place.  It was amazing.  I experienced the rain, the sun and snow.  I'm excited to go back, I think we'll do a road trip with the family and that will be our destination.

I took some pictures and I'm going to show them to you.  Now although I've been taking this course for the last few months I just have to tell you that I am still not a landscape photographer and I am okay with that.  I'll show you what I took and I know it's not all that exciting but once you pass the large scenic stuff you get to see the stuff  I like to shoot, the details.

One Love!

Week 1 | September 21st - 25th

Yes folks I'm back in Missoula.  That's right I have 6 more weeks to go of Advanced Intensive. This week was all business and I mean it when I say business...that's all we talked about.  However, for our Visual Studies class, which would start in a week, we would have to go out and do a shoot for every class.  At first I was dreading it, but I'm so glad we were given this task.  I needed to step outside and get creative.  I decided to get some space for myself and I headed to a familiar place again to just help me get back into the groove of Missoula.  I spent a beautiful afternoon at Fort Missoula.


One Love!

Day Trip to the Sound House & the Washington State Fair

Because of the strike and no school we decide to do a couple extra things before I would leave again for Missoula (6 more weeks) and the kids would have to get back in the classroom. Aunties Dianne and Amanda were up from Eugene for the week and staying at the Sound House so we took a little day trip to visit with them.  When we got there they had gone to a meeting so we had a little R&R by throwing rocks, digging in the sand, checking out the crabs and a little bit of modeling.

The next day we headed to the Washington State Fair.  Boy am I a fair rookie - if you don't know what you're doing, and I didn't, you can spend way too much money at these places.  I think I'm just a little wiser from our experience and I now know how to handle this for the next time.  I also found out that I get sick on rides.  It wasn't like that a few years ago, must be something about getting older, or at least that's what I'm blaming it on.

One Love!

School or No School...That was the Question

The summer was coming to an end and both the kids and I were excited that they would be getting back to seeing friends and to being in a structured learning environment (well that part was probably mostly me).  Anyhow that didn't happen.  On Monday (labor Day) we found out that school would not be happening on Wednesday and the teachers would be going on strike.  Before all of that would take place we went in on Tuesday to see the classrooms, meet the teachers and find out who else would be in class with the kids.  On Wednesday, what would've been their first day, we went to support the people that take such amazing care of our kids during the school year.  Our teachers love what they do, the problem is they are overworked and under paid.  I could go on and on about what they deserve and although it was five days out of school I truly hope they continue to push an issue that needs to be addressed all over this country.  We support and love our teachers and I was proud to walk with them and to have my kids walk with them.

One Love!

Family Time

I've been home for about 4 weeks now and it's been wonderful getting to spend the last part of the summer with the kids.  Folks, this is going to be a long one.  I thought about breaking this post up but I think you can all get through it.  Don't skip to the end there are some fun moments to enjoy. The week after I got back from Missoula we went straight to The Sound House on Eld Inlet.  This is a very special place for us.  The house was purchased the year Tim was born, remodeled and lived in full-time the year he graduated from high school.  This house holds cherished memories and reminds us how important coming together as a family is.  But before we actually got there the kids and I decided to take Courtney and Daniel on one last tour of downtown Seattle.  They would be leaving during our week at the Sound so we thought it would be fun to experience a little of Seattle Center.

Can you find Malaika in the fountain?  She was all wet.

We did the usual while at the Sound.  We walked the beach, kayaked, picked blueberries, played board games, went on boat rides and this year we added a new activity - the kids learnt how to ski.  Malaika at 8 and Liam at 6 years old beat their dad who learnt at 9 - but who's counting.

Courtney skiing

Liam skiing

Malaika skiing

Tim skiing

Annual friends day at the Sound House

Getting back to Seattle it was time for everyone to get an end of summer clean up - including Tego (sorry no pictures).  I love going to Rudy's we love Alicia our stylist and the atmosphere is just fun.

We end our summer with our fourth annual camping trip.  This year with all of the fires we ended up canceling our campsite east of the mountains and went just 45-minutes south to Dash Point State Park.  We were not breaking tradition.  With 4 other families, there are usually 5 of us, we enjoyed a wet yet really fun time hiking, biking, wading, cooking s'mores, singing camp songs and again creating memories.

This slide has been around for a very, very, very, very, very long time

One Love!

My Final Project | Self Portraits

We were told that every photo you take is a self portrait.  Then we were told that we had to create a photo series of 5-7 images and write an Artist Statement.  I decided that I needed to push myself with this project and photograph the one thing that does not like being in front of the camera and do the one thing that I had never truly attempted.  I'd take self portraits.  I was here to jump out of the box, well here we go. I decided that my Self Portraits would tell the story of my time in Missoula without my kids.  My Artist Statement is a letter to them.

Dear Malaika and Liam,

It was eleven weeks in the summer of 2015. Malaika you were eight years old and Liam you were six. It was a summer that I would probably never truly know or understand what your emotions, your frustrations or even your joys were towards me. I will always wonder what you would tell me if you were old enough to share your deepest thoughts. But here’s the thing. I can share with you what it was like for me, in words and photographs.

You stayed in Seattle and I went to Missoula. This was the hardest decision I had to make, but we had the support and I knew that you were two of the strongest kids out there, and that someday you would understand what this was going to mean for us all.

I was scared, excited and jumping for joy that I had the opportunity to finally attend RMSP. It had been my dream for over 9 years.

I was sad, depressed and lonely that I was not with you everyday. I just wanted my morning cuddles, my constant kisses and even the excited shrieks.

I was appreciative, thankful, and glad that you were safe. I was walking into an unknown but you had your dad, your cousins, your friends and most importantly each other.

I was angry, confused and holding onto the guilt of not being with you. I was missing you and all of the wonderful things that you were experiencing. I wasn’t there to help you though a tough situation.

I was happy, relieved and grateful. I would meet so many wonderful people, I would talk to you on FaceTime, write you letters every week and I would be learning.

I was me! I learnt more about photography, I played my guitar, and I grew as an individual. I would come home to you more in love with the art that I am constantly seeking and more in love with being your mother. I look forward to exploring and having adventures with you both.

Thank you for the summer of 2015 – thank you for being my biggest fans and for being the best of me.

I love you, Mummy

One Love

Week 11 | August 9th - 14th

I'm sorry it's taken me this long to talk about my last week in Missoula.  What a fun time I've had this summer and even more during my last week, my family visited, I had to present my final project (that will be in the next post), I got to go on a late night shoot with friends, there was a gallery showing of one piece of work from each student (so inspiring), we had a scavenger hunt that ended in a fun slideshow and then we celebrated our successes at graduation.  I came into this program with 65 strangers and I'm leaving with some lifelong friends.  The group picture below is of the A-Team, just 22 of the "weirdest people I know" said Brenna :).  One Love!

Week 10 | August 2nd - 8th

Crazy how time flies when you're having fun.  Truth is this summer has been a rollercoaster for me.  I've gone through more emotions that I honestly didn't even know I had.  Has this been worth it?  For my photography - yes, for my family....well that might be something we find out starting today.  They are all coming to Missoula and I get to show them my life here for the next week.  I cannot wait to see them! The past week I was finishing up my final (that's going to be next weeks post).  We did two fun night shoots at Garden of 1,000 Buddhas and Garnett Ghost Town.  I'm going to miss this place and most importantly the people.  I've met some really amazing and talented people that I plan on staying in touch with.  For many of them they are going back to "life as they know it"  and for others we get to continue for another 6 some another 10 weeks in Photo Studies and Advanced Intensive - I cannot wait.

My first starry night sky - do you see a bit of the Milky Way?.  Still have a lot to learn but I'll get there.

One Love!



Week 9 | July 26th - August 1st

Well, let's see, what I can tell you about my ninth week in Missoula.  First of all is was a short one, we had our second long weekend and I decided to rent a car to explore a little more of Montana.  However, before we talk about that let us talk about school. I was busy working on my final project (to be revealed very soon) and Marcy talked to us about how to frame and mount for our final.  I learnt about portrait retouching in Photoshop, we went to an amazing location in Bonner for our location shoot for lighting.  Plus we got to hang with Tony R. for a field help in portraits.

For my weekend I rented a car and headed to Bannack Ghost Town.  What a cool place.  It took about three hours to get there (I kept stoping in small towns to take pictures).  Then I spent about three hours in the ghost town and then another three hours driving home, with more stops.  On Sunday I tagged along with Wendy and Mike to check out Phillipsburg, Sapphire mining (found myself a couple small pieces) and then we went to taste testicles.  Although we didn't make it to Testy Festy in time to enjoy the fun they still had balls for us to try-  They weren't anything fantastic but they weren't terrible either.

I wish I had more picture from my Sunday outing with Mike and Wendy.

One Love!

Week 8 | July 19 - 25

So Jamaica made history this week by making it to the finals of the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup.  I will be very busy on Sunday watching them play Mexico.  I'm sending nuff blessings to the Reggae Boyz. Now onto the reason why you all join me here on my blog.  School is only 3 weeks away from ending, can you believe it I'm 3 weeks away from ending the first part of the program.  I've met some really special people and I'd like you to meet just some of the members of group A - some AMAZING people that I will be friends with for a long time.

This week I had the opportunity to work on photographing food in the studio, I loved it!  We were busy in photoshop, learning more about photojournalism, flash, I've thrown in an image from last weeks macro class, a sunrise from Lee Metcalfe, my HDR assignment (the guitar) and of course everyone has been working on or coming up with a plan for their final.  The work never ends.

This weekend I also get to enjoy the company of my sister-in-law, Marie.  She's from Missoula and came back for her high school reunion.  It's nice to have the company of family around.

One Love!


Week 7 | July 12th - 18th

At the end of this week we had to show our mid-term slideshows to the entire school.  Everyone had a little over two weeks to have a slideshow of 10 images put together with music.  Your images had to have some sort of a connection (theme, color, portraits, studio, landscapes), you could choose anything.  I decided that I wanted to photograph RMSP staff, outside of their work environment.  As for the rest of the class of 2015, there was some really, really good work.  I wish you could see them all.  I was so proud of everyone but really proud of Group A and the great work that was shown.  I was having trouble loading my slideshow with the music so this is the best I could do for you. This is "Beyond The Green" and the music was "Take Us Out" by Jerry Goldsmith (instrumental) from the movie Rudy

Meet Melanie - Front desk by day, food photographer and blogger by night.

Mike - Lighting/Studio instructor.  Photojournalism is his passion and this guy is all heart.

Tony - Computer everything for RMSP.  Probably one of the nicest, quietest guys I know.  The gym, hikes, the outdoors are all his thing...we're just hoping he gets a puppy ;).

Bob - Administrator and one of the reasons why I am here this summer.  This guy is like the "Mayor" of Missoula.  He'll pour and drink beer with you any day of the week.

Marcy - Visual Studies Instructor.  This woman has the coolest studio , she's so encouraging and can inspire anyone.

These are just a few of the people that make up the school, I wish I could've done this shoot on everyone that works there.  Some of the coolest people you'd meet.  Thanks to all of you this will be a summer I will not forget.

I also got a quick pass through visit from the Howards on Saturday, they are on their way back to Seattle.  Look out 18th Avenue.  And that was a great surprise.

One Love!

Week 6 | July 5th - 11th

I cannot believe it's taken me this long to tell you about my surprise weekend home.  I had another good week in Missoula and I continued to learn a ton in studio, more about hyperfocal focusing and so much more but I was excited because I would be going home for the weekend and I was like a giddy little girl. Malaika was going to be in her first swim meet and I realized that I had never missed my kids "important firsts" and to me this was an important one.  Plus, I just needed some hugs and kisses from the two people that see me for who I am and who love me unconditionally.

When I first saw them their mouths dropped open, they couldn't believe it.  The first thing Liam says to me is "Mummy, we can get our cuddles".  Yes buddy, we can.  We spent my first day home watching Malaika perform in her first swim meet.  Two 1st for her IM Relay and Freestyle Relay, 5th for her Breast and 6th for her Free.  I couldn't be more proud of her.  She supported her team mates, she swam like a champ and she had fun doing it.

The next day we got to enjoy a little Paulapalooza (an annual party that my neighbour throws) with many live bands, good food and friends.  On Sunday we rode our bikes to the Ballard Seafood Fest with some of my best friends.  Thanks for a fun weekend Seattle.  I miss you all so much but getting back to Missoula at mid-night on Sunday and having a hard time staying awake on Monday was all worth it.

One Love!

Week #4 | June 21st - 27th

We've been busy in the lab, busy in the studio, busy hearing talks from respected Sports Illustrated Photographer Peter Read Miller and busy at the rodeo.  Not sure I'm a big fan of the rodeo, I've decided it's like a wedding for me, I have no real interest in photographing it unless it's the details.  I have put some pictures in for you to experience it a little. We were given our mid-term assignment a week ago and although I came up with my concept very soon after the assignment was announced, I have shot maybe one image for this project.  I've got one more week and additional assignments to complete...oy vey!  I'm not even half-way through this program (11-weeks) yet it feels like I've been here for ever.  I'm ready to see some family!


One Love!


Week 2 | June 7th - 13th

Another week of school and another weekend of outdoor fun.  Over the weekend I went to Mule Days in Hamilton, MT which was this small showing and fun races of mules and donkeys.  The people there were so nice and because it wasn't a huge crowd we were able to go up close to the action.  Do you know the difference between a mule and a donkey?  When I was younger I would sing the song "A mule is an animal with long fuzzy ears...", anyone (apart from my sisters) know that song?  Well it's been stuck in my head since the weekend and I really want to get it out.  Anyhow, not sure you want to know the difference but here you go, a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. At this same venue they were having a festival on yarn and you could meet all of these wonderful people that explained the process of how we get yarn, from sheering to spinning to knitting with a few other steps in between.  While talking to one of the ladies, she finds out I'm Jamaican, and bam the lady beside her lived in Jamaica for 4 years, she taught at my old high school (ICHS) in the 70's and she's still good friends with Jamaican artist Kay Sullivan.  Small town, small world!

In other exciting news this week on my run I had a squirrel chase me, well I've never.  Since then I've been a little skeptical about the squirrels in this town what can I tell you they have urban deer here the wild life is abundant.

Missing you my little ones, I love talking to you both and seeing you're beautiful faces on FaceTime (this is when I love modern technology).  Yesterday was their last day of school - can you believe I now have a third grader and a first grader.  So proud of you both and I hope you have a fantastic summer!

Here are a few pictures from my weekend trip along with a few images I'm working on.

 One Love!

First Week | June 1st - 5th

Wow it was a big week.  I moved into my little pad and met my landlady.  On Monday and Tuesday it was all about getting to know the school, getting to know Missoula, taking our ID pictures.  Then we began the task of getting to know 65 other people, they split us up into three groups of twenty-two.  At that time we met with  a few instructors and assistances as a group...I'm in group A2, then we learnt how to react if approached by a bear on the trails...yup true, true.   The next day we talked a little more about Missoula and photography and then got our computers set up for the next 11 weeks of learning. On Wednesday the work began and it has not stopped.  Our classes include:  Photo Studies, Visual Studies, Edit/Edit Lab, Lighting, Field Help, Output and then a whole bunch of talks from sponsors and guest speakers.  I'm sure I'll be breaking down the classes for you with images so stay tuned.

Saturday morning I went to the market (which I'm sure I will photograph) and then hitched a ride with two other students, Will and Linda (they are a lovely couple from Wisconsin), to check out the Bison Range, St. Ignatius Missions and Nine-pipe National Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped in at a little bakery on the way up, it was probably the best donut I have ever tasted.  I will be taking Liam there because that kid loves a donut.  This day I was out of my element and excited to stretch myself.

RMSP Entrance (taken with iPhone)

My room is the left door

View from the bakery

Her mom's recipe





One Love

Saying Goodbye

Leaving was not easy but saying goodbye that was really hard for me.  My family had to leave before I was heading out so as I hugged each of my children I would weep.  I told them how much I loved them, how much I would miss them and to always remember that even though I was far away I was always in their hearts.  It was the tightest hug I'd ever gotten from both of my babies, they cried and told me too how much they loved me and wanted me to stay.  As crazy as this sounds this was one of the first times I think I truly understood our relationship. Once my car was all packed and I was walking out of my door my neighbor Jenny came over to see how I was doing and to say her goodbye.  We walked to the car and then one of the most special things would happen, I would just see people popping up out of their houses walking towards me...they all came to say goodbye.  I cried a little more, hugged them all and realized at that moment I was lucky to have these people in my life.

It took me 7.5hours to get to Missoula and there was no shortage of tears on that drive.

all of the above images were taken with an iPhone

One Love!

Cooking with Ameen

Happy New Year friends.  I hope flipping that calendar page over or putting up that new calendar wasn't too much work for you.  A new year brings new blessings, new beginnings and much more adventure. It was back in November that my dear friend Evan got a group of 12 women together to learn how to cook Indian food.  I was excited not only to learn how to cook one of my favorite foods but to learn from Ameen.  I met Ameen my first year at North Beach Elementary while volunteering on the schools auction committee.  When I first started talking to her I knew I wanted to be her friend.  She is a very talented woman, from teaching you how to cook to teaching kids art at Studio-Kids.  Her art is also something to behold, check out this great article I found on herself and Deep (her husband).  Also someone I knew I wanted to be friends with.

This was the BEST indian food I had ever eaten and I'm not just saying that.  It really was something wicked.

 One Love!

Remembering the Ranchhouse

We recently got some sad news that the house in Toledo, WA where Tim grew up had a fire.  It's brought up a lot of emotion for him and his siblings.  Truth be told, I've only seen the house from the road but when I heard the news, it made me tear up.  The place where we grow up is always going to be special.  It's always going to be the thing that starts new and old conversations,  it's the place that has helped to mold you into the person you are today- the good, the bad, the ugly - but most of all the LOVE.  Tim was heading to college when they sold this house.  The new owners did not live in it the way the Dugaws did.  Read on, this is a little something Dianne, Tim's oldest sister, wrote on her last visit, see what it is they have experienced from living in this place they use to call home.  Lewis County Sirens 


           A long time later—years and years and years.  Looking across the big field from the churchyard, you see the ranch house nestled on the brow of the hill.  Apple and pear trees surround it in a gnarly herd like they have from the beginning when the house went up.  Mom’s dream house in the open space in the middle of an orchard planted by the mission fathers a century before.

Before the house was there, after Daddy bought the orchard land and the field below with the creek running down to the giant oak at the bottom, you all looked forward to the building of the ranchhouse and visited the orchard and the hill and the fields.  You rode bikes there when the road went in; flew kites in the big field; picked the wrinkled little apples that seemed to come on old every year like apple-ancestors.  The grasses were tall for tramping through with the dogs and the kites that Daddy folded from pages of newspaper comics.  Sometimes you rode Sheba there, under the trees in the late summer where she found apples to eat; you coaxed her down to the lower field and loped around in the waving grass, then gave her her head to munch the stalks, nuzzle and sniff around for the green and goldish bits that interested her.

The pheasants liked it there in the flatland below, especially the field that stretches over to the church, with its scattering of piney brush here and there going across the way and up the hill toward the red barn.  Mornings and evenings were grouse and pheasant times.  Walk through slowly and quietly.  See if they bustle away in a throng or whizz off across the sprig tops and tassels of grass.

Now you drive up the roadway that is still there but growing over with grass more and more every day.  Past the graceful birches leaning together as the hill takes its shape up ahead.  The white bark angles up the trunks as they cluster together, then wing out.  Leafy branches droop and sweep down—rustle, rustle, rustle in the wind.

Go all the way up to the top.  The house is there, but shabby and broken and silent in the grey light.  The buyers lived there a while, let it fall to pieces, went off and left.  Now brambles and blackberries cover the second-floor deck that extends around two sides and the whole front.  It’s all caving in now, falling down, leaning over, parts of it lost in the covering brush.

The wind whistles—comes in sharp angles over the house as it makes its way through the old apple trees that surround.  You look in.   Recognize cupboards, windows, shelves, the colors of carpet tatters, the stones of the fireplace.  Hear conversations and dishes, picture a sofa with pillows, a rocking chair long gone.

The poor house is empty except for random scraps of trash.  Is the house thinking  back with you?  Listening for the voices and laughter of children screaming and arguing and playing?  And busy grownups?  Sounds of a sewing machine or a refrigerator door or “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” on a record player or a piano?

Momma died thinking that the house was about to be reclaimed and rebuilt and reloved and renewed.  It made her so happy.  But the deal fell through.  No way it could pass the codes, they said.

Maybe something will happen yet—some sweet, house-merciful miracle.

Meanwhile, pheasant families may still live there in the fields below.  Apples still fall for someone to eat.  Maybe the deer.

Written by | Dianne Dugaw

3rd Annual Camping Trip | Hanging with Friends

We returned to Lake Wenatchee State Park for the second year in a row.  Why not?  This place has got so much to offer, you're always planning what to do next.  On the first morning the "city kids" woke up a grumpy man in the really early hours of 7:30am (insert sarcasm here)...give it a rest buddy.  Let's just say they moved on very quickly and it did not stop us from having a good time. On the first morning we went on a hike with all of the kids and ended up at the amphitheater where the kids performed for us, The Three Little Bears and Little Red Riding Hood.  They were awesome.  The weather wasn't the best so we didn't swim as much or boat at all.  We did ride our bikes a ton and the kids were even doing tricks.  The ladies went on a beautiful hike (thought we heard a bear or something that growls) and two of the guys took a long mountain bike ride up a very steep hill.  We ate well, slept ok and every evening, by the campfire, we would enjoy the stars, sing songs and listen to stories.

Our last day, for the last two years, has not been about packing up and just leaving.  We pack up the campsite and then we just head to the beach for a swim and some lunch.  When we do eventually leave we stop at a little pizza place in Gold Bar called Rico's (we just can't get enough of each other).  This is also the time that we start the conversation about where we should go next year and that equals one successful camping trip.  Date set, location TBD...see you next year!