Same-Side Seating or Opposite Preferred

I came across this couple at Reuben’s Burger Bistro in Boulder, sharing a dessert from the same side of the table. I told them I once saw a 70-year-old couple at a restaurant seated together. (The older couple told me they’ve done it their whole life.)

Yet, I know other couples that feel odd, or embarrassed, to sit on one side.  Wondering which side most fall on.

[Kenneth Wajda Photographer]

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weddingbooth260Hollywood Wedding Photo Booth – Glamorous Portraits at your Wedding

5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

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Every Picture Tells a Story

With street photography, while the goal is to find storytelling photos in public, sometimes it’s not clear what the story is.  As this photograph attests.  (See more street photographs.)

Photography by Kenneth Wajda.

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weddingbooth260Hollywood Wedding Photo Booth – Glamorous Portraits at your Wedding

5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

Startup Meetup, VR Edition

I Am Boulder Business | StartUp Meetup | 1724 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado

Photography by Kenneth Wajda.

A room full of entrepreneurs.  Dreamers.  Visionaries.  And open to ideas on how to bring those ideas to fruition.  That’s the purpose of the StartUp Meetup.

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Bob Ottinger, owner of Reality Garage, speaks at the StartUp Meetup.

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The February StartUp Meetup, which happened on Wednesday night in Boulder, featured two pitch presentations, the first one by Bob Ottinger, who opened the Reality Garage last month at  1320 Pearl Street, downstairs off the Pearl Street Mall. Meaning you can go and experience virtual reality.  Like anytime (well, that they’re open.)

The business model has a three pronged approach of related activities and goals:

• VR Lounge / Experience Space: walk-in or by appointment, individuals or groups (e.g. team building, parties)

• VR Maker Space with equipment, software, workshops / boot camps, open collaboration.

• VR Production: Content and Applications: Documentaries, mixed computer model generated with 360+180 / 3d videos.

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GRAND OPENING THIS WEEKEND

The Reality Garage is open to the public and you can go visit and try out the VR experience, and there’s a Grand Opening Friday and Saturday, February 10 and 11. More information: 720.598.2888 – Hours


The second presenter was Romain Vakilitabar, a filmmaker with a virtual reality film, My Beautiful Home, which will be screening during the Boulder International Film Festival, inside the VR Pavillion, March 2-5.

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Romain Vakilitabar introduces MY BEAUTIFUL HOME during his presentation.

Synopsis:  Kenya’s Kibera is Africa’s biggest slum, and one of the world’s poorest neighborhoods. Most of those living in Kibera live in absolute poverty – making less than a dollar a day. But they are not asking for sympathy, they are asking for admiration.

His company Pathos VR‘s goal is to create empathy based virtual reality experiences to accelerate global understanding.

Vakilitabar explained how we often see news photos of strife and suffering in other countries, but while we can imagine it, we haven’t experienced it, and we need both imagination and experience to create empathy for those faraway people.  His intention is to bring an experience via Virtual Reality, and to use it to work to solve world problems.

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5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

SimBLISSity, The Tiny Home Company

I AM BOULDER BUSINESS | SimBLISSity Tiny Homes on Wheels | Lyons CO | 303.885.5991

Byron Fears and his wife, Dot, just moved their tiny house construction business two weeks ago into the building where a boat company used to be, out on Highway 66, just east of the town of Lyons.  And already you can see the tiny houses are going up.

His crew is working on six houses at the moment, and Bryon said on average it takes about three months to complete a home, though one could be built in six weeks if they were only working on a single construction.

They are high-quality construction, and bigger than most of the tiny houses you see.  Byron said their 24-foot option sells for $65-85k, and they are comfortable for a couple, not just someone living alone.

“They’re movable, but they’re not RVs.  Most folks put them on a piece of land and stay put for a while,” Bryon said.  “I know someone who lived in one in Nova Scotia, Alaska and here in Colorado.”

The company has been featured on TV on Tiny House Hunters, and Tiny House, Big Living.  Perhaps they’re working on your next dream house that’s both comfortable (they have tiled bathrooms and propane fireplaces) and transportable.

Photography by Kenneth Wajda.

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Carpenters work on sheathing a house.

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Byron Fears, owner of SimBLISSity.

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Detail of the tile work in a tiny home bathroom.

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Construction materials still take up considerable space.

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Bryon working with an electrical engineer on a home.

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5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

Agile Little (and Big) Dogs!

Hoops, tunnels, barriers, ramps, and vertical posts to pass through.  And it’s all set up for the dogs.

The Front Range Agility Club is holding a dog agility event this weekend at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, and what a treat to see these speedy dogs (and their equally speedy handlers) running the course.  Want to check it out?  The competition continues Sunday, 1/19, from 8:00-5:00 at the fairgrounds in Longmont, and admission is free for spectators.

Photography by Kenneth Wajda.

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A Glamorous Photo Studio at your Wedding

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5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

Cuba Taxi Roulette – Tales from a Boulder Family’s Trip

By Denise Milligan
Photography by Al Milligan

Al Milligan is a professional photographer based in Boulder.  This is is first story for Boulder Viewfinder.  He joins us as one of our staff photographers and we look forward to more photo stories from him. Thanks, Denise Milligan, for the story.

Cuba is famous for its cars – 1950s (and older) American cars are everywhere. A few have been lovingly restored. But most have been “lovingly” patched together with bubble gum, tape, and bits of other vehicles. And because of the increasing tourist trade in Cuba, everybody and their brother is cashing in on the lucrative taxi business – even if it is, strictly speaking, a bit shady.

Havana Cuba

My family and I spent 5 days in Havana over the Christmas holiday. With Frontier, American, United, Southwest, and other US-based airlines flying to Cuba, a lot of people from Colorado are headed there. In fact, we met a couple from Denver in the El Floridita bar (famous for being one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangouts) in Old Havana.

Havana Cuba

Although we were told that renting a car isn’t as complicated as it was just a few months ago, there were no rental cars available during the holiday. No matter, though, we learned that parking in Havana is nearly impossible. So we were quickly immersed in the intriguing world of the Cuban Taxi.

Havana Cuba

Taxis are the way to get around Havana unless you’re staying in or near Old Havana, in which case you can easily walk to all the main sites in that area. But you’ll need a taxi to get to some of the more distant sites, like Ernest Hemingway’s home.

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When you’re ready to hail a taxi, brace yourself. You’re in for an adventure. Well, that is unless you choose to only go with the “legal” taxis – the traditional yellow version that is metered – and much more expensive than the unofficial taxis.

This is where it gets interesting.

It would appear that anybody and everybody can stick a handmade “Taxi” sign in the window of their old beater car – or truck – or bicycle – or horse carriage – or motorized mini-car. Normally I’d wave you off of jumping in one of those jalopies. But in Havana, they’re everywhere, and you can get a cheaper ride if you know a few little tips.

Havana Cuba

These unofficial taxis don’t have meters. So ALWAYS negotiate the price before you get in. The prices will vary depending on how far you want to go, the time of day, if the taxi has a meter (which 99% don’t), if it’s a communal, a private, or illegal taxi. Don’t expect to be able to pay for the taxi with a credit card because they’re all cash only. In fact, we didn’t see any taxis, restaurants, or stores in Havana that took credit cards.

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Note: When traveling in Cuba make sure that you bring plenty of cash, and convert it to CUCs (Cuban Convertible Peso – worth about $1 US, with about a 12% exchange fee). Don’t bother getting any CUPs (Moneda Nacional that only the Cubans use).

Not only do businesses not take credit cards but I didn’t see any ATM’s. Cuba is a cash only country. I can’t tell you about the hotels and how they operate because we stayed in a house we rented from AirBnb. But we were told that most of the modern hotels take credit cards, and also have a money exchange.

Havana Cuba

The first full day in Havana the six of us piled into a rickety taxi and headed to the outskirts of town. Suddenly the driver gestured wildly for 2 people to duck. Turns out that it’s illegal to have more than 4 people in a regular-sized car, and 6 of us were crammed in the taxi. That scene was repeated multiple times during the trip, with 2 kids hiding in the back seat. Now we have a family joke about smuggling the kids in and out of Havana.

We rode in taxis that:

  • Had little to no upholstery – springs poking you in the knees
  • Looked and felt like they were held together with bailing wire and bubble gum
  • Several that you could smell the car’s oil and gas ( I guess that’s why the driver avoided tunnels)
  • A Chevrolet that had a Dodge steering wheel, a Toyota diesel dash and engine and sounded like it was going to come apart with every bump we hit
  • One that we felt like getting out of and pushing it so we could get up the hill
  • Had no seatbelts (none of them had seatbelts)
  • You couldn’t open the back door from inside the car; it could only be opened from the outside

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The man who managed the house where we stayed was awesome at arranging taxis for us, but even he, as a native Cuban, could never guarantee what would show up. Two days in advance we arranged for a van to take all 6 of us to Viñales, which is about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Havana (depending on traffic, and whether or not you had to take turns walking up hills).

We were very clear that the vehicle HAD to accommodate 6, and have air conditioning. The driver showed up, we piled in, and 2 blocks later our son-in-law said, “Errrrr…. I don’t see any air conditioning.” So I asked the driver (he didn’t speak English), “I thought this car had air conditioning?” To which he gestured toward a vent and said “Yes, of course it has air conditioning! The air comes in through the front, and it blows out this vent – it works great!”

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We got out.

The moral of the story? Don’t be shy. But don’t be foolish either. The taxi experience can be one of the most memorable parts of your visit to this beautiful Caribbean island.

Havana Cuba

Havana Cuba

5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

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  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

Bringing Gifts to Children in the Hospital

Amy Francis, of Lyons, and her quartet brought a special gift to children last night at a holiday event at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.

The hospital hosts an annual Holiday Extravaganza where they fill tables with items for all ages and the children who are in the hospital can go to “shop” and take gifts for their families–essentially free holiday shopping for kids in the hospital.

And a crew of volunteers wrap their gifts for them, too.  It’s a beautiful night, and it was made all the more beautiful by Clark Hodge’s Chase The Music bringing Amy and her bandmates to the hospital to fill the place with holiday music, including her original song, “Christmas is You“.

Photography by Kenneth Wajda

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5 ways you can support Boulder Viewfinder

And help create more photojournalism coverage of local happenings and people:

  1. A Small Monthly Donation as a Patron – A few bucks helps!

  2. A One-Time Contribution – Thank you!

  3. Advertise your Business on our Site + Support Our Advertisers

  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photograph (Delivered To Your Door)

  5. Share the Site with Friends – Copy the link

A Viewfinder for Boulder Photo Stories, Created by Professional Photojournalists

I love being a photojournalist. When people hear I live in Colorado, the first thing they often say is, “You must love it out there being a photographer.” To which I reply, “Yes, there are a lot of people here, and so many great stories to cover.”

As many of you know, from the mid-80’s to early 2000, I worked as a staff photographer for a daily newspaper in New Jersey, shooting everything from the NY Giants, NY Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles, to covering Presidential visits, NJ Governor news, and protests at the NJ State House. I photographed food stories, house fires, car accidents, and plenty of business portraits.

With more and more newspapers closing their doors or laying off their staffs—the newspaper I worked for, The Trenton Times, is down to one staff photographer—it’s difficult to make a living as a photojournalist. Newspapers editors who have laid off their photography staffs now expect their reporters to shoot pictures with their phones, or rely on the public to send them photos to use for free.

And the ones who don’t get to cover the stories are the real photographers, the seasoned photojournalists.

And the stories that are missed are the ones like Don’s, a 99-year-old from Lyons, sharing Thanksgiving morning with friends.  [Order Reprints]

I still long to photograph and document local moments and events like I did when I was a press photographer.  These stories continue to this day, but they are not getting documented like they used to by working photojournalists.

screenSo, that being the case, I am excited for 2017 to create a venue to shoot and publish more photo stories. Those are the stories I live for—real human stories with great emotional qualities.

Only they won’t be seen on Facebook, but rather on Boulder Viewfinder, where we will have multiple photographers documenting life in Boulder County.

With a team of top quality photographers, I want to create more amazing stories on people and events in our local community, but there has to be a model to make a few dollars and pay bills to keep it going, cover equipment costs, and pay the studio rent.

So, I’m building a group of professional photojournalists to cover local Boulder stories—Lyons, Longmont, Boulder, Louisville, Lafayette, Nederland, Niwot, Erie—and will be regularly posting them on the BoulderViewfinder.com Web site.  And there will be a place for viewers to support the photographers of each story with contributions or subscriptions, and a way to purchase reprints of the photographs seen in the galleries.

That way, the stories will grow, the coverage will increase, and photojournalists will have the ability to get paid for their work, which will encourage more stories being made.

Will you please consider supporting local photojournalists?

The five ways to support Boulder Viewfinder:

  1. a Small Monthly Donation as a Patron
  2. a One-Time Contribution
  3. Advertise your Business on our Site
  4. Buy a Reprint of a Photo
  5. Share the Site with Friends

Are you a local news agency–newspaper, magazine, Web site–that would like to license some of the photos for your publication? They will be available to you.

Are you an advertiser who could support our photographers by placing an ad on our Boulder Viewfinder site? We want to hear from you.

Do you have any STORY LEADS?  We want to document the happy to the bittersweet, if it will work for a photo package.  Send story leads to info@boulderviewfinder.com.

Think of this as LIFE MAGAZINE for Boulder, a picture publication.

Are you or do you know a photojournalist who would like to photograph for Boulder Viewfinder? I am seeking experienced professional photographers with photojournalism experience who can seek out and deliver timely photo stories.  Send an email to the editor of Boulder Viewfinder, to schedule a portfolio review.

The goal is to create Viewfinder sites for towns and cities across the world, with photographers creating quality photo stories of the people and happenings in their town, and being able to make a living doing so.  And it starts in Boulder, Colorado.