Starbucks: Bolsa & Edwards : Huntington Beach

We met at a Starbucks that we had never met at before, right off the freeway in Huntington Beach. We grabbed a coffee and grabbed the word for our inspiration: the.

That’s right, our word was “the”. We knew that a simple word like “the” would be bound to happen at some point. But, such a simple word didn’t turn out to be so simple. We started our timer and discussed our word. Eric immediately said, “I don’t even know what the word “the” means. It’s like trying to describe what milk tastes like. You can’t do it.” And you know, he was right – I found myself also stumped as to how to describe it. So we looked it up and found that it’s a definite article used before a noun to specify a particular thing. Not just any noun though, but something specific.

We thought that we could shoot anything and call it “the” shot of the day. Our first idea was to shoot something that is definite – something there’s only one of. The sun came to mind, so we shot it. But we wanted more. We started shooting everything around us. We even turned to Periscope for the first time to broadcast our shoot looking for help from viewers. We were hoping that we might find something in a photo we didn’t initially see.

After the shoot and in editing the photos, both Eric and I had a hard time deciding on one photo that symbolized the word “the”. So we sat on it and looked deeper into what each photo represented to see if we could draw out more meaning. We looked for photos that seemed to hold the letters T-H-E or any other meaning that tied it closer to the word “the”. There was one photo that kept coming back up in conversation:

The cup. It wasn’t any ordinary cup, but one that was cast aside as a piece of trash in the middle of the sidewalk – crushed, yet still standing. It was upside down and didn’t hold anything except for light which made it stand proudly in the shadows, giving it a life that one would not expect. The photo is about more than just a cup. It’s about the persistence and resilience of something that transforms it from the ordinary and into something unique and individual.

minute:72 : the


minute:72 : pull

Starbucks: PCH: Sunset Beach

We came back to where it all began: the Starbucks in Sunset Beach. But the deja vu kicked in when we retrieved our word for the next 72 minutes – in. What? We’ve done that before and loved the image we got from it. We never anticipated that this would happen, so we had to make a new rule right there on the spot – should we get a word we’ve already done, we have to move to the 7th page of the paper’s next section and get the 2nd word on that page. The new word for today – pull.

Eric and I sat and brainstormed about the word. We knew what it was but we knew we would have to see if there was anything to it that we weren’t seeing at first.

Exerting force on something typically by moving them toward the origin of the force. To cancel or withdraw. To damage a muscle by strain.

Well, nothing more than what we thought, so we talked a bit more and decided to take off up Pacific Coast Hwy to see what we could associate with the word pull in a unique way. As we headed north, there were 2 older people waking toward us and the man was pulling a wheeled suitcase. I told Eric he needed to shoot him. After all, we could actually get someone in the act of pulling. Eric sat down on the side of the walk and tried to act nonchalant about capturing the people without them noticing. He was able to get one shot, our second of the day.

We had over an hour and a couple hundred photos to go, so we searched some more. We headed toward the ocean in search of capturing the ocean coming toward and getting pulled back away from the shore. We captured plants getting pulled toward the sun. Signs telling people how to open the door. We pulled a cover to reveal a portion of an old car. Things said pull all around us but we knew we would have to edit things to figure out the best way we could show the word.

When editing, we saw something more in the photo of the pedestrians. Was the man doing the pulling or was he the one being pulled?


Starbucks: Katella & Los Alamitos Blvd.: Los Alamitos

Today the weather was not disappointing: Crisp air and not a cloud in the sky – the makings of another sunny California winter day. Eric arrived at Starbucks first and grabbed a cup of coffee while waiting for me. The moment I got there, we were ready to go. We grabbed the top paper in the rack and turned a few pages. Page 7, 2nd word: owned.

We knew what “owned” meant – it’s pretty simple, really. To possess something. But we looked it up really quick on our iPhones to see if there were any other meanings that we could extract from the word. Owned also means: to acknowledge full responsibility for something: to utterly defeat or humiliate.

We knew instantly we might be able to take this different ways. But just like our first thought, we figured it would be easy to show ownership of something. After all, everything around us is owned by someone. But how do we show something or someone actively owning something else, and in an interesting way? That’s what we were on the lookout for.

We found a lady and her dog and we knew that was an easy way to show owned. We captured it, but knew we wanted more. We came across some graffiti which could be someone’s way to show they own that area. We felt that was just ok. There were also weathered, stamped metal plates in the street proclaiming they belonged to the city’s utility department. We found many things which showed “owned”. But nothing really stood out the way we were looking for.

Switching up and down the streets in the area revealed places of residence as well as small businesses and even a small church. There was a lone statue in front of the church greeting us, but something about it was totally unexpected – someone had stepped over the short iron fence surrounding the statue and placed a shovel against the statue’s outstretched arm. A small act of defaming the statue not quite at the level of graffiti, but whoever did that definitely took over the original intent of the statue and owned it in their own way. I’m sure if it could express itself, it would feel totally humiliated.

We knew we would have something to show for this 72 minutes, but kept going with the 25 minutes we had left. Nothing quite said owned as well as that statue until we rounded a corner on a more industrial block and looked up. There above us were a pair of shoes tied at the laces and hurled onto the power lines leaving them hanging out of reach. I remember hearing different explanations for the hanging shoes, one being that they represent a gang-owned territory, which definitely could support the “owned” idea.

I looked it up on my phone to make sure that’s what it meant while Eric shot the dangling shoes. I found many explanations for what the shoes could mean. But probably the most fitting was that shoes tied together could be a symbol of bullying, where a bully would steal someone’s shoes and toss them somewhere they are unlikely to be retrieved. That, to us, showed “owned” the best so far.

We captured other images of people working, clearly being owned by someone else at that moment. There were other signs of graffiti that we captured along with lots of things that were owned by someone. But at the end of the 72 minutes, we felt that the shoes represented the word “owned” the best.

minute:72 : owned


Starbucks: Willow & Cherry: Signal Hill

The morning started out brisk, yet sunny. We met at the Starbucks in Signal Hill, a small city completely surrounded by Long Beach, known for its hill which was used by local indians to signal other tribes far away. It’s also known for its oil fields which dot the landscape and could potentially make for some interesting photos. On the way there, Eric, being hopeful, said he thought our word today would be “oil”. I accused him of peeking at the word a little too early!

We arrived and ordered up a couple coffees and took the Wall Street Journal, being the top paper in the rack. We opened to page 7 and noticed that the second word on the page was the last name of someone we had never heard of. This is the first time where we actually had to make a new rule on the fly. We quickly decided that our word couldn’t be someone’s name and we treated this situation like we do when an ad appears on the 7th page – we move to the next section of the paper, look at its 7th page, and grab our inspiration word from there.

Today it was: states.

State is the particular condition that something is in. It’s a territory or the act of expressing something clearly in writing or speech. But our word is plural: states. Immediately our instincts turned us toward the conditions of something. We tasked ourselves with finding something that we could show its multiple states of age. People age. Metal deteriorates. Paint peels. These were all things that immediately came to mind from past experiences with what we’ve found. But this time, we knew that we had to capture multiple states of the same thing and not just one state.

states: behind the scenesWe were off to the oil fields to see what we could capture. There were lots of things to shoot in an old used state, but practically nothing was in a new state in the old oil fields – some of them even abandoned.

One of the used, discarded items we found was an old tire tossed into some bushes. The tread completely worn with the only texture left being the frayed steel belts coming out of its edges. It was pretty interesting and we felt that we could easily find another tire that was in a lot better condition to represent its early state of life.

We talked about this concept more and more as we walked but weren’t totally sold on just showing another tire – it almost seemed too easy and not deep enough. So we kept looking and shooting and hoping that we find something else that could represent multiple states.

More than halfway through our 72 minutes, we came across another oil field that still had some muddy ground from a recent rain. It was interesting how its top layer was cracking and peeling similar to some paint we found earlier on an abandoned building. Perhaps we could show 2 totally different things going through the same state in their life. It definitely was an option so we captured this as well.

As we finished shooting the drying mud, we turned and saw the shot and we both knew we hit the concept on its head. There, in front of us, were the deep treaded tire tracks leading across the oil field – we knew instantly this was a much better way to show a tire’s youthful, useful state to contrast against its lifeless, worn state we captured earlier. We shot the tracks and decided to keep moving along to see if we could capture something even better, since on the last shoot we found something else to shoot in the final minutes we had left.

We walked further and talked about what we found and searched for something else. Today, we were only finding more of the same, so we decided we’d revisit some of the peeling paint we found earlier to offset the peeling mud. And then we’d revisit the old tire to capture other angles to make sure we were covered. It was a lot of ground to cover with only 12 minutes left, but we hit both of the locations a second time and got enough to work with.

At the end of it all, we knew that we had to decide on one idea that represented states to us the best. The tire’s states won out today:

 minute:72 : states



Starbucks: Bolsa Chica & Heil: Huntington Beach

It’s been a while and Eric and I have decided to make a comeback. We actually never really left – we just took some time off due to family and work. But we both realized that after a break, we really missed the unexpected challenges and situations we put ourselves in.

We met at a different Starbucks from any time before and grabbed the top paper in the paper stand. The weather was just clearing from an overnight rain, with the sun just starting to peek out from behind the clouds. It looks like we will be working with the lighting coming and going. Page 7, 2nd word: some. The clock starts.

some: is one of those words that has to be interpreted. An unspecified amount or a number of; at least a small amount. We were in search of a grouping of things. The rain drops served as an easy way to show a grouping. Rain drops were assembled on unbrellas, plant leaves, table tops, cars. All were options, but none was visually captivating.

As we surveyed the area some more, there was a shopping cart in an open parking lot. At first the lone cart in the empty lot presented an interesting photo opportunity, but it was only one and definitely not “some”. But it still seemed to beckon us. When we got closer we noticed that it was covered with rain drops clinging to maze of steel. The hiding sun poking out from behind a cloud was captured a countless number of times in each glistening raindrop. Eric and I both knew instantly that we hit the motherload.

some: minute:72

Only 30 minutes had passed. We talked and both thought it would be pretty hard to beat what we just shot. But there was still another 40 minutes that we had to dedicate to the word “some”. So we walked. But nothing.

We forced ourselves to think again about the word and in some twist of conversation, we found ourselves talking about looking at “some”thing. But that seemed too vague and almost a stretch. But then it hit us: we could show “all” of something… or through cropping, we could show “some” of something. So we were off. Time to crop and show some of something.

Cropping was interesting, but not really showing a whole image didn’t seem like enough. Until we came across an interesting puddle which showed some of the raised bumps at the end of the sidewalk. The reflections were captivating – almost like a window into another place. As time passed we captured some of what that window presented. Pedestrians, cars, and time passed until we hit 72 minutes. Time up. In the end there was one image of a passing car, but only some of it, that seemed to also represent the word to us.

In the spirit of the word, we couldn’t only show 1: instead we will present 2: some of what we got from the shoot.

some: minute:72


Starbucks: Marina Pacifica: Long Beach

The day started out clear and brisk with a slight breeze in the air. Eric and I met at Starbucks in Marina Pacifica, right on the edge of the water near some boat docks. It really couldn’t have been a better day to be outside. We grabbed a coffee and the top paper in the stand and got our inspiration word for the day: seized.

To take possession of. To become stuck or jammed, as in a machine. To have possession of.

Inspired by “seized” we knew what we had to do. Off we went in search of something that has taken possession of something else. Or we could stop something in motion, seizing it in time through photograph. We had to search the area around us to see what we had to work with. We found some bushes with leaves unable to move, being caught in a spider’s web. We captured this a few different ways with the sun glistening in the webs.

Down to the docks we went where we were actually greeted by exactly what you would expect: water and boats. Not much else. No action on a Tuesday morning. Nothing moving except the breeze which is hard to see, much less photograph. We had to figure out something so we went around a corner to see what other docks would hold for us.

We came across an older gentleman washing his boat. Water drops were getting blown from the spray of his hose. Time to seize those drops.

seizing the dayAfter spending some time capturing the spraying water, we knew we needed other options so we went down the docks to see what else we could find. The sun’s reflections on the water yielded some interesting shots but nothing was saying “seized” just yet.
Until: one leaf floated down in front of us. The surface of the water immediately stopped its downward motion and held it on its surface. It was interesting to us how the surface tension just stopped it from sinking or moving from the wind: it seemed like it just stopped in time.

minute:72 : seized


Starbucks: Inside Pavilions: Seal Beach

We met up at the mini Starbucks inside Pavilions for a second time. Learning from our first time there that they don’t have papers, we immediately headed over to CVS where they do have papers to grab our inspiration word for the day. While we’ve done this before, one first for our minute:72 today was that Eric’s son joined us – the first time we’ve had someone along to watch our creative forces at work 🙂

We got our word: has

This was one of those words that we figured we could take in different directions. The act of someone or something possessing something. All we had to do was find things or people that fit that description. As we weaved up and down the streets around Seal Beach, we took many photos, but none of them seemed to represent our word well. So we headed toward the beach and went up on the pier. Looking down below was a surf school in session. Surfboards were scattered all over the beach and kids were wiping out left and right, so you couldn’t say that any one kid has a wave or even a surfboard. And then we saw a girl who actually had a surfboard, carrying it back up the beach at the end of her session. And then she was joined by a friend. We definitely could say each girl “has” a surfboard. We captured that moment.

We went on looking for more. As we searched, we came across a most-interesting telephone pole. We didn’t find it interesting until we came up really close to it. From afar it was just a telephone pole, but as we moved closer it was much more. It displayed a skin of rusty staples, nails and screws that once held signs, advertisements, and other notices over the years. We thought to ourselves that if this pole could talk, then it has many stories to tell.

minute:72 : has


Starbucks: 7th & Park: Long Beach

Once again we meet at Starbucks to exercise our creativity. It’s a typical June morning in Long Beach. The sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds and it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a nice day. We grab a coffee and the top paper in the rack and get our word. The second word on the seventh page today is “spar”.

spar: to make the motions of attack as in boxing, especially as a part of training. to box, especially with light blows. a dispute.

This is going to be interesting – so unexpected. We brainstormed to see if we could take this in another direction or if we could reinterpret the word spar using what we had around us. We noticed the way cars in the street seemed to attack each other from different directions but never colliding – another possible take on “spar”. Some of the angles and compositions were interesting, but it seemed too much of a stretch to us. We had to figure out another approach that just worked at first glance for this word.

I remembered that there was a small boxing gym, DG Boxing,  up the street from where we were, so I checked my GPS and found it was only a little more than a mile. We’ve walked that far on past shoots, so we figured we’d call and see if they’d let us shoot there. We tried to call but there was no answer. We hope they’re open, because that’s probably going to be our best bet for this shoot, and if they’re not maybe we’ll find something along the way that might work.

As we walked, we kept brainstorming and looking for another option that represented spar. But it wasn’t looking too good. We got closer to DG Boxing and had already eaten up  about a half hour of our 72 minutes. Fingers crossed, we turned the corner into the small center in which it was located. They’re open! We knew there was hope. We went in and looked around, but there was only one person working out. We couldn’t have a spar with only 1 person. So we talked to DG himself and told him what we were up to and he said that he had another guy who just went out for a run and would be back in 5-10 minutes. It was going to have to work. About 30 minutes for a photo shoot… no problem. We work best under pressure any way.

The second sparring partner returned and got all geared up. Let the sparring begin! We had never shot boxers before so we had to figure out the best angles given the tight quarters. We got right in the ring and followed the boxers around as they sparred. Even shot them from outside the ropes from multiple angles. Feeling really comfortable with our boxers, Eric got brave and had them punch into the camera. Because of the intensity of their workout, one of the boxers even got a little too close and punched Eric in the lens. Who says he’s not dedicated to his craft.

We shot right up until the final bell, going many rounds with the boxers. And even got some great stills that captured the fatigue that comes with their workout. But after all was said and done, one photo captured the word spar to us. It was only a split second, but it captured this training the best. The moment of impact:

spar: minute:72


in : minute:7206:07:13
08:55 am
Starbucks: 5th & Long Beach Blvd: Downtown Long Beach

Eric and I decided to meet in a totally different location today. Away from the beach,  away from the suburban homes and right in the middle of downtown Long Beach. We headed to the Starbucks at 5th and Long Beach Blvd. near the speeding blueline train and across from a shopping area where a street fair was happening. We knew right away that this was going to offer us something different from all our other shoots.

We felt pretty charged to be in a new place and eager to get the 72 minutes started so we headed into the Starbucks and went straight to the newspaper stand. We decided to forego the caffeine and not stand in the long line of people waiting for their morning pick-me-up. The excitement we felt was going to be our fuel this morning. Our word today is “in”.

in: a word that we use many times every day without even thinking about it. I know I probably even see it more than I’d like when my iPhone suggests it every single time I try and type the word “on” with my stubby fingers. But when you stop and think about it, it’s typically used with other words and is used to indicate inclusion.

Eric and I looked for things that were included within something else. We immediately saw so many things – pipes in a wall, sign posts in the sidewalk, a bottlecap embedded in the street from when the asphalt was originally poured, words scrawled in the concrete from when it was fresh. All these things said “in” to us in one way or another. But we knew that there had to be more.

We headed toward the action of the street fair, saw a few things that caught our attention, but felt right away that it just wasn’t right. We moved beyond the active street and on toward the next few blocks with apartments and more urban housing to see what else caught or eyes. After walking about a block we were met by a local asking us why we were shooting some of the housing. He expressed how he was paranoid about the authorities staking out the local properties and he felt reassured when we told him about our project. He wished us well and let us continue our shoot.

We shot plenty of photos looking in all directions. From billboards in the sky above our heads to discarded objects in the dirt below – from advertising containing the letters “i” and “n” to looking in on things behind windows. Of all the images we captured, there was one that stood out more than the rest. We came across one barred window on a stark white wall. But what said “in” to us the most about this was a vine crawling across the wall seeming as if its only mission was to get in that locked up window. As the window tried its best to keep everything out, the vine squeezed behind the metal bars searching every inch of the window desperate to get in. While all the other images that we captured showed the result of “in”, this was the only one that showed “in” in action.


09:30 am
Starbucks: Main St.: Huntington Beach

Eric and I decided to hit the same Starbucks in Huntington Beach as last time. But to switch it up from the crowded lunch hour, we figured we’d try a morning to see if it would offer a different experience. And that it did. The morning started out overcast and dreary instead of the sun blasting down. Here is Southern California, we call it June gloom. And the scene was pretty void of people, except for those crowded inside the Starbucks.

We received our inspiration for the day’s shoot: members. A distinct part of a whole. An individual belonging to a group. A limb of a body. We knew instantly that we were going to have to think outside the box on this one. Although we were familiar with what members were, we knew that it needed more than a literal representation.

We set out on a different path than last time. Instead of hitting the main street, we went through the back alleys and side streets to see what new things we would encounter. We didn’t come across many people, but instead passed repair shops, random beach houses, storefronts in both exquisite and run-down condition, and plenty of interesting reflections and textures.

However, none of these things said “members” until we saw a lineup of trashcans in an alley. As one of our minute:72 fans put it on our Facebook page, they looked like a little group of members huddled behind a fence. This was exactly what we thought when we first saw them and it sent us in search of other subjects that could be looked at as a group of members. We captured many images, but only 4 made the short list of potential winners.

To help us decide, we figured that we’d enlist the members of the minute:72 Facebook and Twitter communities to give their feedback on their favorite “members” photo. The results are currently coming in and voting wraps up soon. It looks like we will have a winner.


We do have a winner – and there’s no question. One photo won with the second place photo far behind. The members have chosen their favorite representation of the word “members”. Thanks for your participation over the past week. We had fun watching the votes come in and we enjoyed all of your feedback. Here is our newest member to our minute:72 project:

members: minute:72