The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
An osprey hovers 30 feet in the air over Lake Washington, virtually silent until it spots something beneath the water's surface. Quickly, it folds its wings and plunges into the water, emerging seconds later with a fish ripped firmly between its talons. Nearby, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' founder, Dan Henderson, floats by silently. This slice of the pristine outdoors happens to be his workplace, but none of it would have happened if his mother hadn't forced him to take a canoeing lesson in 1972. Despite his initial reluctance, Mr. Henderson took to the water like a robot to a magnet store. He went on to race whitewater canoes and flat-water Olympic-style canoes, eventually earning four medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Later, Mr. Henderson became a coach and set out to train a new crop of water athletes. To this end, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers serves as the natural continuation of Mr. Henderson's journey: a place to, in his words, "share paddling with the community in a manner that is fun and safe."
Under the leadership of expert guides—many of whom learned their trade directly under Dan Henderson's wing—visitors embark on day trips into inlets and bays, paddling in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains or tailgating orca whales. The staff also leads canoe and kayak classes that aim to take novices from beginner to expert. Their efforts have proved fruitful, as three of Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' students have made it to international-level competitions.
Back when it opened its first location, Crunch gym had no air conditioning or locker rooms, so staffers had to invent novel tactics to attract members, such as enlisting a live rapper to accompany hip-hop aerobics sessions. Bereft of fancy trimmings, the staff relied on imaginative classes that combined exercise with fun to build a base of loyal fandom and positive buzz. Their judgment-free attitudes and creativity eventually paid off, giving them enough steam to accrue new equipment, several franchise locations, and a reputation for turning boring workouts on their heads.
Today, Crunch locations have all the expected amenities. They boast brand-name machinery and certified trainers, as well as involvement with dotFIT, an online fitness and nutrition resource for members. They also host a range of group fitness classes, covering disciplines such as Zumba, yoga, Pilates, and TRX.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 25 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level (starting as young as 6 weeks) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. My Gym offers classes for all developmental degrees, from Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, to Champions, designed for kids 6–8 years old to master sports and gymnastics skills. Schedules and class options vary by location; see the Bellevue and Kent class lineups. Classes meet once per week and run for four consecutive weeks.
As avid golfers themselves, Pro Golf Discount’s staff members boast a wealth of experience and professional equipment advice. They are eager to direct shoppers through stores full of golfing merchandise from brands such as TaylorMade, Nike, and Callaway, pointing out the differences between the quality products. They lead lefties to their expansive selection of left-handed equipment, and discuss the advantages of their specialty women's gear with ladies. The master club fitters evaluate clients’ swings with advanced Launch Monitors and the Foresight Sports GC2 golf-simulation system, enabling them to recommend equipment that is suited to the customer's specific needs.
Most of the locations host golf lessons within their onsite golf theater hitting cages, where top golfers dish out expert tips and techniques. The Tacoma, Bellevue, Lynnwood and Bellingham locations feature repair centers, where technicians can spruce up clubs in preparation for upcoming tournaments or a golf vacation.