Everybody has a story.
As humans, sharing our story to one another has the capacity to connect us in an intimate and profound manner. It can help us acquire greater understanding and insight into our own story and life experiences. This is what my book aims to do – connect us, through story, in a deeper and more intimate way.
For the past two years, I have photographed and interviewed a diverse range of people currently working in wine country. These are hardworking folk who show up every day, aiming to contribute to and serve their community. We explored the personal challenges they have had to overcome throughout their life, rediscovered meaningful relationships from their past, and discussed pivotal turning points that shaped the way they view the world.
This book is about the journey of being human.
My hope is that you will find solace in their stories, share a few laughs, and allow them to connect to your own story in a personal and more meaningful way.
Read an Excerpt!
Click on the cover photo to read an excerpt (desktop only). I have highlighted three people that will be featured in my book and shared a brief part from their story. The final book will be over 200 pages, include beautiful portraiture, and feature stories from thirty-eight people. This book was written for the wine country community and those who love this region.
You can also scroll down the page to meet a handful of the people who will be featured in this book. I’m excited to share their stories with you.
“In 1972, my wife told all of the family that we were going to live together. About 20 min. later, my soon-to-be mother-in-law pulled me aside and said, ‘So…do you think you can keep my daughter in the style of life that she is accustomed to?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been working since I was 15, but I haven’t worked in 6 months, I guess I better go out and get a job’. And that’s what I did. Sarah is the reason that we first moved to Napa Valley, her folks live here. I was a foreman in a chemical company before the wine industry.”
Napa Valley is filled with performers, broadcasters, showmen, hucksters, and barkers. Some have even mastered the fine art of storytelling. A few of those have honed the most compelling skill a storyteller can acquire; the ability to know when not to speak and when to listen.
This is what makes Paul Lange so intriguing – he has that ability. Originally from Tallahassee in Florida, Paul joined the Navy, then discovered he loved performing and spent twelve years in the acting profession in New York. After getting married, he and his wife Danielle decided to head out west and in time they landed in Napa Valley. He is Assistant Tasting Room Manager at ZD Wines.
Two years ago he decided to launch a project called ‘People of Wine Country.’ He puts his performer hat to one side and becomes a compassionate listener. Soft-spoken and intent, he draws out his subject’s most intimate stories with casual precision. His project participants reflect the diversity of Napa Valley and come from all walks of life. Paul’s stories are honest but forgiving. He intends to use this project to publish a book of the same name in 2021. Paul also takes very creative and professional photographs after the interviews. This helps him “see” his story subjects in a more complete way. In return for their participation, Paul gifts these photos to his subjects to use as they wish.
To be a powerful storyteller you don’t need to acquire outlandish experiences like traveling to a foreign land or climbing an inaccessible mountain peak. Like Paul, all you have to do is look at your world a little closer and listen a little harder. He discovered his stories all around him, because as he has said, “The heart of every region is the people.”
Written By: Colin McPhail
“As a Mexican man, you don’t share your feelings, you are supposed to be strong. This is how I was taught to be. I can be defensive and standoffish because of this. I want to share my feelings, but it’s hard. Letting someone inside is not easy. It goes against everything I learned growing up.”
“Firing my first chef was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. At the time, I was on the fence. I had no idea how to cook any of our dishes. What was I going to do without a chef? There would be no direction and I thought everything would fall apart…”
“We are being evacuated; the fire is in our back yard.” Grant’s mom said, trying to be strong for her son. “I went blank for a minute. I stopped in the middle of the street and a car had to suddenly swerve around me. I was completely unaware of my surroundings. I was focused on what was happening and felt terrible that I was not there.” Grant said.
“I never really knew what my purpose in life was outside of raising my children. They have been my whole focus and now that they’re gone, it’s a little bit scary…”