Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Todd Palin. Alaska. Esquire.

Todd Palin. Alaska. Esquire. Words I heard through the phone from Michael Norseng over at Esquire. He wanted to know if I wanted to go to Alaska to hang out with Todd Palin for a feature for Esquire’s “American male “ issue (out now). Ridiculous. Like I or anyone else could possibly say no to an assignment like that. He laid it out like this: you and your assistant will fly to Alaska and hang out with Todd for a few days and show the world what it’s like to be him. This kind of assignment is why I take pictures for a living, hanging out with Todd Palin in Alaska. If there is one name that was as dividing as it was uniting last year, it was Palin. Michael wanted a slice of life look at Todd. Get intimate. The story was this; here’s this guy, a mans man, hunter, fisher, snowmobile racer, oil field worker. But also a father and a stay at home dad. Truly a renaissance man for the 21st century. Oh yea, his wife is pretty interesting too. This is the new American male. I really wanted to look at not so much what it’s like to be him, but look at what it means to be him. We spent a few days there in Wasilla, just checking into his world every day and seeing what its like. Snowmobile stuff, hanging out at home with the kids (Sarah was off in Juneau for the week), doing some snowmobiling. Just cool stuff. One connection I did have with him was fishing. We both are pretty serious fisherman and our families have both relied on commercial fishing for a living. My brother is a commercial fisherman in Florida and I fished with him commercially way back when and still do on occasion now when I’m home in Florida and time permits. Todd and I are pretty passionate about our finned friends. He showed me pics of his fishing exploits and we talked about the common bond all fisherman have. I showed him a few pics I keep on my iphone of big fish I’ve caught, he dug it. I never get bored talking fish. We talked fish conservation. We both really want our kids to be able to go out and catch and eat wild caught fish. (sidebar: don’t eat farmed fish. very bad for the environment, you, and most importantly wild fish. go here: http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/salfarprob.html) It was a really cool week hanging with and getting to know him. After a few days of taking pictures I talked to Michael and basically told him “getting great stuff, lots of cool pictures, but he looks like a single dad as Sarah hasn’t been home all week.” She was getting home Sunday, but I was supposed to leave Sunday morning, so we scheduled one more day so we could get a shot of the fam at home. Unfortunately she’s has been lying kinda low after the whole VP thing, and it was touchy getting that scheduled and shot. She did it grudgingly but we got a shot, kinda. They thought the story was going to be focused on her, they even hinted at that. Todd even said to me “the only reason you guys are doing this on me is because of her.” Yea, that true, I agreed with him. She is the draw initially, but the story really was about him. It’s funny because all my friends want to know about her. My liberal and conservative friends all want to know what she’s like. It’s a strange phenom, she’s really a polarizing figure. From the most die-hard conservative to my totally left liberal friends, they all want to know about her. Is she nice? Is she dumb? Did you like her? Is she pretty? Yes, no, yes, yes. I did like them. I like all Alaskans though. Something about that place. I get it. Been there several times and I understand why they try and keep it a secret. Flew home on Monday morning and had a nice look at the cold white snowscape while listening to mick and the boys on exile on main street…tumbling dice will always remind me of this gig now… My favorite picture by far is the last one in this post, the shot of "i love you daddy" on the toolbox. Todd told me Piper wrote that one day. Just hanging in the garage one day with him, saw it and new it was a great shot, summed up the whole story. The one thing I will never forget is watching Todd and Trigg. Besides fishing, the thing we talked about a lot was our babies. My little Henry and his Trigg. Our universes are parallel on those two things, fishing and our babies. He adored that baby so much, and Trigg really lit up for him. It was the only time Todd was totally calm and not uncomfortable or antsy, when he was holding Trigg.

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