I became aware of the NOH8 Campaign 2010 as I discovered Adam Bouska’s work, and became affiliated with the Campaign by volunteering when it was in Minneapolis for it’s open shoot in Feb. 2011.
In June of 2011, the campaign was in Des Moines,IA for the Matthew Shepard Scholarships Awards Dinner, which I was attending to photograph.
When I saw the campaign was having an Open Shoot in San Diego this weekend, it was a given with me being in Palm Springs, to travel over and volunteer again.
I left PS around 7:30, gased up and headed towards Palm Desert, as the route I choose into San Diego was CA 74, over to CA 79, into Temecula to I-15 into San Diego. CA 74 is a narrow two laner that rises up out of the desert into the Santa Rosa Mountains with a series of hairpin turns hugging the hillside with just a guard rail, at times just wire, between the road and a steep drop into the canyons below. Always a good way to accelerate the adrenaline
. Once out of the initial climb, the road is an easy drive thru the mountains, with better scenery than the freeway.
When I drove by the intersection of CA 371, I remembered that I could have taken that shorter route, but already had the route I was on logged into my brain’s GPS.
I made my way thru the mountains, into Hemet, then Temecula and on into Sa Diego. I-15 just seemed to zoom and into no time I was on CA 163 into Downtown San Diego, and with ease I was at my destination; the Hotel Solamar in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.
It was an odd mix of high end upscale restaurants to burger & taco joints; souvenir and clothing shops; bars and clubs, smartly dressed people, beach bums, the college crowd, homeless pushing towering shopping carts of ‘stuff’ and others just sleeping on the sidewalk.
A sampling of the architecture in the Gaslamp Quarter
It was an eclectic place and I felt right at home. I wandered around taking pictures and decided to eat at Bolillo Tortas, on 4th Avenue. I order a Huevo con Tocino which is scrambled eggs, bacon, asadero cheese, onion, avocado, tomato, lettuce, beans mayo and mustard on a whole wheat bun with a side of fresh staemed veggies and a bacon wrapped cheese-filled jalapeno. It was the best! Fresh, non greasy and tasted great!
I made my way over to Hotel Solamar to the NOH8 Shoot. There I met Chris Hayden, the NOH8 Volunteer coordinator. Since I have worked the registration table a couple of times before, he assigned me there again, which is cool, because I get to meet & greet everyone, but also have enough freedom to run around and take pictures behind the scenes of the event.
Chris organized the volunteers to the various post throughout the shoot: tattoo and duct applicators, merchandise table, event co-ordinators.
Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley were setting up the studio, while Byrce Ferguson set up the merch table and the payment table.
I was at the registration table getting the model release forms numbered and organized.
Participants were beginning to form line out side of the room where the studio was located an hour before the start of the shoot.
Jeff came up to the registration table and I chatted with him about the upcoming shoot in Duluth, MN in Aug. and his plan to incorporate more cities in Minnesota around that time.
I wandered around and took a few pictures of the event coming together.
20 minutes ahead of the start the line had formed all the way down the hall towards the lobby of the hotel, so Jeff and Adam decided to start the shoot early.
The first wave of participants filled the waiting/tat app room quickly and so it started, non stop for the next five and a half hours, over 700 people showed to have their photo taken in support of the NOH8 Campaign.
The crowd is always so much fun. They are polite, respectful…sometimes alittle zany and I love it.
Around 7:20, the last in the line had the picture taken and the volunteers group shot was taken.
I had to get my vehicle out of the parking lot by 7:40, so I bid adieu to Adam, Jeff, Chris, Byrce telling them I would see them in Duluth and then said goodbye to volunteers I worked with, then the group as a whole. I got to the SUV with just enough time to spare. The nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter was just starting to come alive, and I had what I thought would be a three hours drive ahead of me, so I opted to begin my trip back to Palm Springs and come back to San Diego when I had more time.
I took mostly the same route home only followed CA 79 North from Hemet into Beaumont and picked up the 10 back to CA 111 into Palm Springs.
The NOH8 photos from San Diego will be posted on Flickr later this week, and when they are,i will post the link here.