Pacific Northwest Heat Dome 2021 for The New York Times

On Blogging: Ten years ago, (when I was in college!) blogging was the thing to do. I was almost more excited to come back home from an assignment and make an edit for my blog than I was to actually go make the photographs. It was fun to self-publish, see your work in some sort of final context. As I’ve gotten older, the blog has fallen away. It could be the rise of Instagram (more thoughts on that another day) or just aging out of spending time with the similar assignment work again and again. 

Regardless, I think it’s an important thing to revisit, self-critique, and put work into a context that makes sense for your goals for it. I’m hoping to get in the habit again.

Heat Dome:  Last year in June Seattle was so, so, so hot, like much of the PNW. I basically stood ankle deep in the Puget Sound for several days, hung reflectors in my windows and a big 12x12 heat blanket in front of my house, and coped. It was miserable. We were just starting to get some reprieve on the western side of the Cascades, and I was laying my head down for a nap, when Jennifer Mosbrucker of The New York Times called. She wanted to know if I could leave that moment to go to Moses Lake, Washington, 3 hours away, where it was hotter than it had been in Seattle the last three, three-digit temperature days. Great! Who doesn’t want to extend their heatwave and go from 105 degrees to 114! I spent the next 36 or something hours with 2 hours of sleep following my nose to visualize the oppressive heat. 

In all honesty, I absolutely love this type of assignment. It’s both fast and slow. It feels like hunting serendipity, hoping to meet the right people at the right time. It’s work related to human geography/climate change and takes me out of the city. I feel at home rolling around and problem solving. Here’s the article on The New York Times.

Day 1 was spent rolling plugging into Moses Lake. I started off at a park with some clear swimming areas, and talked to a few locals there who told me about better swimming holes in irrigation canals that had cooler water people would for sure be swimming in. 

After the park I headed to the drainage ditches and plugged in with a big family and some young guys who were kind enough to offer me a beer and we hung out as the sun set. I got invited to a late night barbecue to photograph as everyone enjoyed the cool night air after. 

Day 2 Photos in the next post!

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