People & Portraits


Tacoma Cobbler

Mihael Blikshteyn Photography | Trade

Gary Aitchison has been repairing shoes around Tacoma, Washington since he was 15 years old. That’s 45 years of being a cobbler. His father opened the repair shop, Syd’s Shoe Repair, and got Gary interested in the business.

The store moved locations several times over the past decades. It’s now located at 4605 Pacific Avenue. Walking into the shop is like traveling back in time. Heavy, antique, shoe-repair machinery crowd the narrow walkways behind the counter. Made many, many decades ago, these machines have the aura of the ancient redwoods and will continue to do their work while the operator is around.

I watched Gary do his craft. He knows his trade. He can do magic on your dress shoes or mountaineering boots, giving them a facelift or bringing them back to life. He’ll repair your belt or a leather jacket or a bag.

He welcomed me into his shop with open arms and let me disrupt his work for hours. He was excited to tell me about his trade, the trade now done by so few, the old machines, the people he’s worked with.

Stop by Gary’s shop. Check it out. You don’t even need to have anything fixed.

Mihael Blikshteyn Photography | Tacoma

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Mihael Blikshteyn Photography | Washington

Mihael Blikshteyn Photography | Olympia

Mihael Blikshteyn Photography | Small Business


It’s the 1970s

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The spring was in the air and I was feeling nostalgic. Airy, sunny, light-hearted images were on my mind. I decided to do a photoshoot that would be a throwback to the 1970s – youth activism, wild colors and patterns in what we wore. When I met the model Kelly Sue, I knew I had the right person for this shoot. She provided her own wardrobe, borrowing the period clothing from her mom as well as her mom’s 1972 yearbooks.

The Meany Building on the University of Washington campus in Seattle provided the perfect backdrop. Light breeze played with Kelly’s hair just at the right moments. As an additional bonus, the breeze was light enough not to topple my light stands.

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Rochelle

Young woman in white dress and white boots holding white balloons on a snow-covered white meadow

I can’t think of a more beautiful backdrop to an outdoors photo shoot than snow-covered Mendenhall Wetlands in Juneau, Alaska.  With golden dried grass poking through, blue-green tree-covered mountains in the back and the expanse of the wetlands, it’s hard not to be enchanted by this place.

My original idea was to have the elegant model Rochelle wear a red polka-dot dress. I wanted to mimic the pattern of red and white on the dress with the red and white helium balloons geometrically placed around her. However, soon the idea evolved to an all-white scene, which accentuated the juxtaposition of Rochelle’s bare skin and matching dried grass, her red hair and red lipstick on an otherwise white landscape.

Young woman in white dress holding white balloons on a white snow-covered meadow

Young woman in white dress holding white balloons on a white snow-covered meadow

Young woman in white dress and white boots holding white balloons on a snow-covered white meadow

The flash light from two softboxes blended nicely with the ambient cloud-wrapped light of the dissapearing sun, creating a pleasing subtle tonality. Usually it’s easy for me to pick one favorite photo from a shoot, but I have hard time deciding on just one here.

I also brought yellow and purple tulips to the shoot as a prop. Rochelle wanted to explore the contrast of the whiteness of the scene with a burst of color from the flowers.

Closeup of a young woman's hands holding a bouquet of flowers ou

Young woman in white dress hiding bouquet of tulip flowers behin

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The evolved photo shoot was even better than the original polka dot dress idea. On any shoot, it is really important to keep an open mind to new ideas, as they can be better than the ones originally envisioned. As in this case, a lot of good ideas can come from creative models wanting to experiment and add their own style, which breathes in life to photos.

Here’s a photo from the original polka dot dress idea.

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More photos from this photo shoot: http://archive.mihaelblikshteyn.com/Shoots/Rochelle