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    • I just returned from a 10-photography gig in Alaska. My client is an industrial scales distributor of commercial scales; truck scales, fish scales, warehouse scales and much more. The average person would maybe not find that all that interesting but the variety of industrial businesses that depend on accurate weight measurement for overall company profitability and State of Alaska compliance makes a person realize how important scales are. In ten days, I probably drove over 1500 miles (barely scratching the overall distances available in Alaska) and 20 different business locations.

      What makes this type of shoot possible is that I used to live in Alaska and the client is a good friend. Thus, I use a company truck and when visiting the bulk of businesses in the Southcentral area of Alaska (Anchorage and the Mat-Su) I am able to bunk at my friend plush home in Wasilla. During the summer months, if you have not made hotel reservations months in advance, even the most ghetto room in Anchorage might run $350/night versus $49 in the off-season. Rental cars are not available as well.

      He is an animal hunter. So, his home decorum is much different than mine. LOL

    • I flew on a Saturday, so Sunday we headed up to Hatcher Pass which is literally picture perfect this time of year.

    • Fireweed is the unofficial flower in Alaska and you see it in many images. This shows the tiny cabins for rent toward Independance Mine at Hatchers.

    • These were true-blue Alaska kids with young parents. Not shy, they peeled down to their skivvies and jumped in the glacier lake. Brrrrrrrrrrr...

    • Monday it was time to hit the road with one of their salesman in a 5-speed bench seat Tacoma. Summer has been hot throughout Alaska but as we headed up to Healy for our first shoot at a brewery, it was wet and rainy. All good. This location uses "bench" scales to measure their ingredients and their kegs. If the scales are not calibrated, it directly effects the taste of their brew and their bottom-line.

    • Alaska became a legal state for cannabis a few years back and I got my customer registered in one of the first ever cannabis trade shows. All the vendors were more retail customer oriented but my customer was the only vendor selling the most critical component of bringing cannabis from the grow house to retail. In Fairbanks we visited Grass Station 49 and witnessed their retail location receive weighed product from a grow house. It has to be precisely measured leaving the grow house and then measured again upon receipt. Besides managing your costs, this is HIGHLY regulated with the state of Alaska.

    • I am not a user or either is my customer but I was impressed how friendly EVERYONE is/was in all these facilities. And, very professional. Non-cannabis retail operations could learn from these guys.

    • Staying on the cannabis topic, as we completed our roundtrip to Fairbanks and were heading back to Anchorage, we stopped by the Houston Grass Station and met with Ron Bass. This was so funny. He was happy to show us his grow facility.

      When I am doing normal portrait shots, I can tell when people tense up and typically their eyes squint...so, it is common for me to tell the subject "open your eyes, open your eyes". I was saying that to Ron and my colleague was laughing at me later because Ron could NOT open his eyes as he was pretty baked. hahahah

    • Back when I lived in Wasilla, I had heard of a marijuana strain called "matanuska thunder f*ck" aka MTF. Ron is very proud of this MTF strain and that is the gold nugget he had done. Perfect advertising fodder for my client and his scale. hahahahah

    • I had never been in a grow house and even though I had my camera bag it was a crapshoot which lens to use and how to compose. I had a tripod but we did not have time to setup.

    • Even as a kid when I was smoking pot, my mom would also say how marijuana is a pretty plant. LOL Just so much more potent now and you had to be careful not to get it on your skin or clothes. I sort of felt "dirty" afterwards. hahahah

    • Ok, another interesting experience was on Tuesday night we had visited all our customers so with darkness setting in around 1am, we decided to put three guys in the bench seat stickship Toyo and drive 70 miles to Chena Hot Springs. I had never gone when I had worked in Fairbanks or living in Wasilla. Not really into touristy stuff but this was great. I mean really great. I would go again. Saw plenty of ADV motorcycles staying there. A winter visit would be awesome! This photo was taken around 10pm.

    • The next day we visited several customers including a supermarket as their automatic meat wrapper with scale was malfunctioning. Then we headed out toward to Salcha to shoot some images of an explosives manufacturing facility. It reminded my of my visit to the Santa Claus house in North Pole.

      Did you know you can compose the rudest message possible and have Santa Clause sign it and send it from the North Pole. TOTALLY ON MY list this year! hahahah

    • This location we were tasked with was a remote explosives manufacturer and distributor that sell a complete line of packaged and bulk explosives, detoniating systems and blasting accessories. The mining industry is their primary target market.

      Photographically, I was tasked with capturing the load cells that weigh product in the silos. We were required to complete a safety seminar and we were escorted throughout. Bottom line – If you hear a buzzer….jump in your rig and haul ass! Very interesting facility and the staff were super friendly and also accommodating.

    • Founded in 1943 by Emil Usibelli, Usibelli Coal Mine is located in the mountains of the Alaska Range, near the town of Healy, Alaska. UCM is 115 miles south of Fairbanks and 250 miles north of Anchorage adjacent to the Parks Highway and Alaska Railroad.

      We were tasked with only delivering a few replacement parts for their scale but it was an adventure getting out to the facility.

      You are required to drive on the left side of the dirt road because the earth haulers (carrying over 300,000 lbs) are driven from the left side of the compartment (similar to a car) but they have zero visibility that high up and to the right. Your car would be crushed instantly. And, due to security, photography was not allowed. Internet photo below

    • Back in Anchorage, there is alot of activity going on at both military bases outside Eagle River. My customer was in the midst of new installations of “truck” scales at secure locations. Another location on the base allowed me to shoot and share this portable truck scale. What was unique was that heavy duty forklifts could load pods from the side but also trucks could drive on it. The real benefit was that for the space this took, it could be removed quickly and stored until it was required again.

    • I did not have really any time to visit friends but my customer let me setup a couple of photoshoots with my customers. These guys I have had as customers for almost 20 years. They have these huge "vacuums" they clean ducts with. They got some new rigs so we did a series of shots for their website and social media.

    • Lastly, I am networked in with a group of people that have become the new owners of a restaurant in Wasilla. I am building a new website for them but we needed new images. This was an 8 hour shoot and almost 1500 images.

    • Food photography is harder than most people imagine, especially in a non-studio environment. But, we ended up with some nice shots I think.

    • It was a very productive trip but I am not used to being on the "fly" like that for so long. But, got 'er done.

      Nobody is accidentally in Alaska. The people who are in Alaska are there because they choose to be, so they’ve sort of got a real frontier ethic. The people are incredibly friendly, interesting, smart people – but they also stay out of each other’s business.