Thursday, July 24, 2014


Cancer is an unwelcomed visitor, a thief in the night if you will. It often robs people of their dreams and ambition. It rips through lives like a devastating tornado making the road to recovery long and hard, if recover is possible at all. Yet, there is a force out there that can rival cancer. An entity that helps empower the body and mind to fight back and confront the challenges of cancer head-on. However, like any war, there are never any real winners, only survivors – those who are fortunate enough to have the inner strength, health and luck to walk away from the battlefield and enjoy the dance of another day.
Country-Line dance instructor Denise Hebert came face to face with her own personal tornado and has been on the mend since 2012. Come learn of her battle with a cancerous tumor and how she refused to let the aftermath of it put a permanent halt on her passion for dance.    

For 17 years Ms. Hebert, under the name of D&D Line Dancers, taught a group of enthusiasts the complicated footwork of country line dancing. Her group grew and gained celebrity by performing in parades and local festivals in Twin Cities. They even visited nursing homes during the winter months to perform their Christmas program for residents and staff members. The D&D Line Dancers loved giving back to the community and the community loved their performances. All was perfect in Ms. Hebert’s world. Dancing had helped fill the void that was created when her children embarked into military life. Teaching her group gave her a sense of purpose and eased her empty nest syndrome.
However, that was all about to come to a screeching halt. During one of her regular swim sessions, Ms. Hebert badly injured her right arm. She said she still remembers the sound that her muscle made as it tore from her shoulder bone. She lived in agony for a few months in hopes the pain would subside but it refused to cease, forcing her to seek medical assistance.
An X-ray revealed that her glenoid bone had completely disintegrated due to a rare tumor that attached to her scapula and spread to her collar bone consuming the bones along the way. Her doctors then referred her to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to seek additional advice. Ms. Hebert said that after countless tests, scans and a biopsy, the results were still inconclusive. During this trying time she turned to her family and dancing group to help her keep a positive mindset.     
And it was a positive mindset that she brought with her when her team of doctors, led by Dr. Ian Dickey, suggested a surgery that could allow her the opportunity to save a part of her arm by removing the infected bone and inserting a titanium bar in its place. The bar would act as a humorous bone and would connect her collar bone to her elbow. If all was successful, her surgery would render her upper arm immobile, yet there was a strong possibility that she would retain use of her wrist and hand (P.S. Ms. Hebert is right handed.)
“I don’t need an arm to dance,” she said jokingly. And with that enthusiasm, she decided to go ahead with the surgery. There were many stages to the surgery and each step brought along with it a myriad of concerns and promises of hope.
In the end, the doctors successfully removed the tumor which they classified as an osteosarcoma. According to their records it currently holds the record for being the largest recorded case of osteosarcoma in the state of Maine.
The road to recovery was long and involved constant assistance from her daughter, mother and sister in order to help Ms. Hebert become increasingly independent. She was eager to heal and return back to her beloved dancing community, but first she had to learn how to relearn simple tasks like getting dressed, putting on socks with her left hand and peeling a potato for starters. Most take the ability of doing these tasks for granted, but every small feat she achieved was a monumental step forth. On December 5, 2012, two weeks after her last surgery, she returned to her doctor for a post-surgical follow-up in which most of the 94 staples were removed. She asked the doctor when he thought she could start dancing again. He said immediately.
She started dancing the next day and has not stopped to look back since. Despite her battle and the loss of 95 percent of her arm use, she continues to push herself every day while continuing to bring new dance routines to her group. Her spirit remains high and her friends say it would be a challenge to find her without a smile.
"I cannot express enough my heart-felt appreciation and thank you to my family and a treasure of friends for their support, love and prayers," she said. "Never doubt the power of prayer!" She also said she is relearning her skills little by little with her left hand and has learned the importance of asking for help.
Ms. Hebert continues to hold dance sessions every Wednesday with the D&D Line Dancers. Sessions run from 6:30 – 8pm and are held in the gorgeous Central Hall, three stories above Lisbon Street in Lewiston, overlooking the Bates Mill. Their next performance will be on August 15 at the D'Youville Pavilion for its Country Fair Hoe Down.

For more information on their dance group please contact DNA Photography.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


After having taught physics for some 25 years at Gorham High School and then winning top prize on the 17th installment of CBS’s Survivor, one would think Robert “Bob” Crowley of Durham would be ready to sit back and enjoy the winnings with his wife Peggy. Of course, if you knew Mr. Crowley, then you would know that such a behavior is not of his nature.
Come venture with us into his family’s 110 acre woods and learn how this humble man and his family have turned a chased dream of more than 30 years, into a family affair that continues to enrich their community and our state by finding ways to give back to those less fortunate. How do the Crowleys do this, you may ask?  To answer this question DNA Photography spent a weekend in Durham with Mr. Crowley on his family’s property. After just a few short hours with him, we gained a deeper appreciation for his family and a clearer understanding of the power of a yurt.

Bob Crowley sits outside of one of the two yurts at Maine Forest Yurts.
So, before we get too deep into this profile, let us discuss what a yurt is. Now you may have heard of a yurt in the past but perhaps you’re still not entirely sure if it is something you eat or if you need to ward it off with bug repellent?  Let us ease your inquisitive mind. Yurts are Mongolian designed huts used now and during the reign of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan as mobile living quarters that have met the demanding lifestyle of the Asian nomads.  “It’s a cross between a teepee and a child’s playpen,” Mr. Crowley explained. “It has circular lattice work on the inside and a teepee stuck on top of it. They are very well suited for winter’s high winds and low temperatures.”

Well at this point you may now have started to ask yourself– what does a yurt have to do with Mr. Crowley? Well the same could be asked of Walt Disney’s connection with a certain cartoon mouse or Ansel Adam’s kindred relationship with his camera, or even perhaps, a freshly baked chocolate chips cookie’s pairing with a glass of milk. Clearly at this stage of Mr. Crowley’s life, and in regards to the solution of his family’s thirty-year-old dream, a yurt has everything to do with him.      
The Crowleys fell in love with the yurt concept – but not just for its nomadic benefits as you may have thought. No, the main draw was the structure’s ability to withstand the brutal winters of our Pine Tree State. This was and still is a big deal for the Crowleys, a family that has dealt with numerous red tape issues that previously slowed down their dream of owning and operating a campground. For thirty years Mr. Crowley and his wife slowly acquired land in Durham in hopes to one day use their property in a somewhat unique manner. And now after several years of hard work and determination, by all in the family (including their two dogs), the Crowleys have established Maine Forest Yurts (MFY).

What MFY offers to visitors is a unique camping experience that is unlike most campgrounds in the state. “Originally we were going to build a log cabin but due to heavy regulations we were not able to build (permanent structures) on the property,” Mr. Crowley said. This is where he said the non-permanent concept of the yurt helped open the door for his family to expand their vision. Their campground has obtained the town’s permission to put in a total of six yurts. The Crowleys plan on keeping four of the yurts isolated and placing two of them near each other, offering larger groups the chance to camp closer together.
Visitors of MFY can do a number of traditional outdoor Maine activities. “There are plenty of walking trails for people to check out and we also have two kayaks that people can use down on the pond,” he said. The pond he refers to is Roundabout Pond and MFY owns 1.4 miles of its shoreline. During the winter months the trails lend themselves to snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.

When DNA Photography visited MFY in early April we were greeted by Mr. Crowley and his four-wheeled Ranger. The hospitality was that of a multi-starred hotel with a unique forest-like twist. His smile was sincere and almost as large as the massive hands that engulfed ours during our handshake. We loaded the back of the gator and then headed up through the wintry trails, impassable at that time of the year by any four-door suburban. As we ventured deeper into the near-virgin woods it was quickly apparent why this campground was unique. There were no paved roads littered with 15x15 foot segregated sites off to the path’s shoulders. Traditional metal-rimmed fireplaces were not scattered about and we didn’t see one gray water dumping station. We remembered it feeling very tranquil as we continued to drive further and further away from the hustle of civilization. When we arrived at our isolated yurt, it was easy to see why people, coming from as far away as Boston, book with this outfit.
“If you Google-Earthed us you will see that we’re not that far removed from Portland,” he said as he hopped off the vehicle and into the slushy snow. “Being exposed to the natural environment has remained our biggest draw. Here you can get away in a heartbeat and be by yourself and relax in our Zen-spirited round buildings.”

We unloaded our gear into his 24-foot diameter yurt that sleeps six people comfortably. The structure was larger than we had envisioned and came furnished with two bunk beds in addition to a sofa bed, wood stove, oven, dining room table, and an environment-friendly outhouse. We were drawn to the rustic décor of the yurt’s interior and how Mr. Crowley had creatively made use of the natural resources found on his land. We were particularly fond of the unique rope system in which Mr. Crowley designed to raise and lower the few battery operated lanterns in the circular retreat. His handiwork had been seen by the world before when he gave fellow survivors a taste of his craftsmanship by creating, not one, but two, fake immunity idols which helped secure his spot in the reality show’s finale in 2008.

We unpacked and started saying what we thought were our goodbyes to Mr. Crowley, when he sat himself down on a wooden bench and made himself available for discussion. After he answered a few questions pertaining to his Survivor experience, he started telling us about the Durham Warrior Survival Challenge (DWSC)and what it did for veterans and other deserving groups.
The DWSC, which is held at MFY, molds itself closely after CBS’s Survivor – without the exotic location and million-dollar cash prize. This August marks the event’s second year. According to its website, 18 contestants from across the country competed last year in a four-day contest that ranged from physical obstacles, mental puzzles, and a fire building challenge.  The contestants were divided into three tribes and together shared reward along with the ill-fated tribal council meetings. Mr. Crowley said he is very proud of the involvement Peggy and he have had in a lot of fundraising events. Events that have raised money for veterans and other deserving groups, like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to stay in the yurt for a night. 

While Mr. Crowley has successfully brought a little bit of the Survivor spirit back to Maine he is often called upon by fundraising agents to help raise awareness and funds for various charities in need. “We just went to California to help raise money for breast cancer,” he said. “We, along with other people, have been involved in raising close to a million dollars for breast cancer, the American Red Cross and Portland’s Center for Grieving Children. Doing this has probably changed my life the most.”
If his Durham Warrior Survival Challenge and his participation in national fundraisers are not enough to convince people of his humanitarian ways, than perhaps his upcoming project with former Survivor members and Habitat for Humanity will change your mind.

It is refreshing to meet a person, who has dedicated so much of his time and effort on educating our youth, continuing to give back. Often when people become celebrities they lose their way. But if you ask those who know Mr. Crowley, they will say he is still the same person he has always been.  Despite winning more than $1 million dollars he has stayed his course and enjoys living a simple life.

His humbleness, wit and ability to tell an endless amount of entertaining stories, paired with his hard work ethic is only a small handful of reasons  why Mr. Crowley won a game that forces people to outwit, outlast and outplay your competitors. We thank “Bowtie Bob” and his family for their unique campground and ongoing humanitarian efforts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Stephanie and I enjoy a good read. She loves her fictional fun and I enjoy my nonfiction. We are modest readers that read before bed, on long trips and during rainy Sundays. Now let me introduce you to a man who reads close to - if not more - than 100 books a year and who has been providing people with book service for more than a decade. On top of all that he has just helped open Portland's second bookstore and authored a book on Maine beer.

We invite you to snuggle up in your comfy clothes and learn a little more about the independent book industry and of our dear friend Josh Christie who helps provide readers with a place to mingle and escape the busy world around us. Scroll down to read our Q&A session.

DNA Photography: Tell us a little bit about your passion for books and why you have decided to work in book stores?

Mr. Christie: "I grew up as a passionate reader, the child of two readers (one an English major, in fact) who encouraged the habit while I was growing up. I’ve always enjoyed books for all the reasons, cliché and otherwise, that people talk about when they talk about reading; entertainment, education, escape, empathy, you name it. I even met my wife, another passionate reader, at a bookstore.

I started as a bookseller simply because I needed a summer job, and it seemed like a good fit. Over the years, it turned from a summer job into a career, both a vocation and an avocation. I’ve been lucky to work for Sherman’s (Books and Stationery), where the owner, general manager, and buyers have taught me about every aspect of the bookselling world. I do believe in the importance and viability of independent bookstores (I’m currently serving my third term on the board of directors of the New England Independent Booksellers Association), and it’s a job where I get to interact with books, authors, and readers every day."

DNA Photography: How many books would you say you read yearly?
Mr. Christie: "I read a couple books a week, so probably somewhere north of a hundred books a year."

DNA Photography: How long have you work at Sherman's Books and why did the company decide to epand to the Old Port?
Mr. Christie: "I’ve worked for Sherman’s on and off for about a decade. I started with the company when I was a college student in 2004, and worked in the Camden store that summer when it opened. I worked at that location during summers until 2006. After moving to Portland and working a few different jobs after college, I joined Sherman’s in Freeport as a full-time bookseller in mid-2008. I worked there for the last five years, and then started the process of helping to plan the new Portland store in late 2013.

The idea of opening a Portland store started with Tori Curtis, the daughter of Sherman’s owner and CEO Jeff Curtis. Tori had worked in Boston in marketing after college, but caught her father’s entrepreneurial bug and started thinking of opening a store. When Tori looked at a location in Portland, Jeff thought it really had potential as a Sherman’s location."

DNA Photography: What is your current role at Sherman's Books?
Mr. Christie: "I’m the manager of Sherman’s Books and Stationery in Portland, ME, and I assist with the book buying for all five Sherman’s stores."

DNA Photography: Do you feel as though there is still a spot for bookstores despite the growth of the internet and online companies? Can small book stores like Sherman's Books compete with large box stores?
Mr. Christie: "Well, geez, I wouldn’t work at a bookstore if I didn’t think they had a place in the modern age. Yes, I think bookstores have a home as a place for events, for brick-and-mortar business, and as a avenue for both local and travelling customers.
Despite the narrative of recent years that the bookstore is a thing of the past, the media seems a bit behind the story – bookstores can certainly survive and thrive. In the last five years, the number of independent bookstores in the U.S., hasn't shrank, but has actually grown about 19 percent. A national retail review for spring identified independent booksellers as the strongest sector within the bookstore category. Where large chains like Barnes and Noble and the now-defunct Borders have struggled to find a place (less personal and unique than smaller shops, but unable to compete on price or selection with Amazon), indies have proven agile and creative in the face of the challenges. And, of course, Sherman's is expanding rather than contracting. Indies can compete by focusing on their strengths - curation, expertise, creativity, and a connection to community (be it local partnerships, donations, or events) - and fulfilling the wants and needs of their customers, rather than fretting about the behemoth companies. Things like the 'buy local movement' have also helped lift bookstores alongside other independent businesses."

DNA Photography: In your opinion what do you believe small bookstores bring to a community?
Mr. Christie: "In his 1989 book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg talks about the idea of the "third place" - a place separate from home and work that essential to community, public life, and community vitality. I think that often bookstores fill this role as the heart of a community. (Or, as Neil Gaiman put it, 'What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul.') It's a place where people meet and talk and get to know one another.
In the less ephemeral and more practical sense, bookstores (and other local businesses) bring jobs and tax dollars to communities that big-box and online retailers don't, while straining local infrastructure less. Sherman's stores also run book fairs and community events, work with schools and libraries, and donate to local causes."
DNA Photography: Does Sherman's Books have a Maine featured section and if so how does it go about keeping that section current with new material?

Mr. Christie: "We do! Since the stores’ beginnings over a century ago, supporting Maine authors and books about Maine has been very important. In Portland, for example, one wall of the store is devoted to Maine books. We work with local and national publishers when buying for the store to make sure Maine is well represented. We also carry self-published books by Mainers at all of our stores."

DNA Photography: Does Sherman's Books offer Q&A sessions with authors - and if so what are a few well known authors that have taken part of the program?

Mr. Christie: "We have a variety of events with authors, ranging from book signings and one-on-one interactions with customers to book talks, presentation, and launches of new titles. Among the stores, Linda Greenlaw, Paul Doiron, Richard Russo, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Kristen Britain, Lea Wait, and many others have taken part in events. We keep a busy events schedule at all five stores, especially during the summer when there are often multiple events a week."

DNA Photography: Does Sherman's Books offer anything unique to its audience?
Mr. Christie: "Since opening in 1886, the Sherman's stores have always offered a mix of book and non-book products, based on the wants and needs of customers. This remains true in Portland, where there are lots of local and hand-made prints, toys, and other gift items.

Sherman's has a 'Frequent Buyer' customer loyalty program, and orders books five days a week - which means that if a book is in print we can often get it to customers faster than Amazon. We also host author and authorless events."
DNA Photography: How long have you been on Exchange Street and how have you been greeted by the surrounding stores and general public?

Mr. Christie: "We opened on Exchange Street on April 1, 2014. We’ve been greeted warmly by both our neighbors and our customers. I think that many locals both miss and fondly remember Books Etc, which was located on Exchange Street and closed a few years ago. It’s been an encouraging sign that Portland as a whole, and the Old Port in particular, can support another independent bookstore."

DNA Photography: Are there any upcoming projects or events that you would like to share.

Mr. Christie: "We’re still building our events schedule for the next few months in Portland, but we are already have some events on the calendar for May, including a book signing with Maine author Jeff Foltz (May 24, 11:30 – 3:00), a presentation from wine expert and author of Wine Maniacs Layne Witherell (May 30, 6:00 PM), and the book launch of Portland Food (May 31, 1:00 to 3:00).

We’re also planning multiple bookstore-based clubs, including a book club that meets at local breweries, and a “correspondence club” focused on letter-writing and stationery. We’ll be announcing more about these and other upcoming projects on our expanding social media presence on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( – those accounts are all largely run from the Portland store."

DNA Photography: In addition to working in a bookstore you also have authored a book as well. Tell us about the process of writing your book and on what topic you covered? What type or research was done for your book and what kind of feedback have you received from it?

Mr. Christie: "My first book, Maine Beer, was published by The History Press in May 2014. It’s a history of the brewing industry in Maine, from the earliest European settlement in the region through statewide prohibition, national prohibition, and the boom of the 'craft' brewing movement that began in the state in the mid-80s and continues to today. It also functions as a bit of a guide book, with a chapter devoted to the history, personality, and beers of each brewery in the state.

I was lucky as far as authors go – I was commissioned to write the book by the publisher, so they came to me with a proposal rather than the other way around. I spent a lot of time on the road visiting breweries and talking with brewers and owners in terms of original research, and also spent a great deal of time at historical societies and libraries looking into the earlier history of Maine brewing, as well as newspaper and magazines articles from the early 80s and 90s covering the birth of modern craft brewing.

Feedback has been very positive. The book has received lots of press and many positive reviews, and has sold through two printings. It was also, coincidentally, one of the best-selling books of the year among the (then-)four Sherman’s locations in 2013."

DNA Photography: Are you working on any other authored projects?

Mr. Christie: "This fall, Down East Books is publishing a book collecting the best of my and my father’s “Worth the Trip” columns, outdoor activity features that originally appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram. I’m currently working on a beer book, focused on stouts and porters."

DNA NOTE: When Mr. Christie's book comes out we will be sure to post a link to it here. We always encourage people to visit their local independent bookstore. There is so much to be gained from just a short visit.

Monday, April 28, 2014


This next profile rounds out our first ten members of our 52. It is a special one - one that was not planned yet we could not be happier to have it as part of our project. At the time of the photo I was not aware of who she was, in fact I was drawn to her simply by the neighborly deed she was providing to the residents of her street as I walked up to her. Only after talking with her and shooting the photo did I realize that it is people like her and her good-natured offerings that inspired DNA Photography to start this project in the first place. With that said we would like to introduce you to Anne (Kendell) White of Auburn, Maine.


I met Mrs. White while she was walking on the Auburn street she resides on. She had a few garbage bags filled with loose trash flung over her nearly 60-year-old shoulders. When I approached her to ask what she was doing she paused only for a moment and said "It's Earth Day" in a chipper response before continuing on with her task.

It was brisk on that Earth Day morning which explains why her cheeks are rosy in the photo. She moved swiftly along the side of the street. On some occasions even venturing deep on to people's properties to retrieve bottles and fast food bags that were most likely discarded from vehicles that had driven by.

Mrs. White has done this for the last few Earth Days and she often grabs a few loose pieces of trash during her regular walks with her mother. She said doing this simple task makes her feel good and she enjoys seeing the improved aesthetics of the neighborhood. On Earth Day she typically cleans for two-hour durations and when needed, recruits her husband to help with more challenging trash removals.

Born and raised in Maine, Mrs. White has become a wife, mother and grandmother. She has always enjoyed outdoor activities including horseback riding, skiing and bicycling.

White's passion for bicycling allows her the chance to give back to the community in another way as well. She is an active participant in the Dempsey Challenge. "My involvement in the Dempsey Challenge is one that is dear to my heart," she said. "Both my husband and one of my daughters are cancer survivors." She bikes for her family and for the many loved ones she has lost due to cancer.

"I have done the 25 mile bike (challenge) three times and volunteered in 2012," she said. "Last year I was unable to participate due to a back ailment and family responsibilities."

White is a retired nurse. She served our community for 40 years.

DNA NOTES - We just want to reiterate our opening. People like Mrs. White are exactly the reason we started this project in the first place. Along our project's journey we have encountered a few amazing celebrities and public figures that give back to the community - and our state is stronger for it. However, what really motivated us to launch this project was to find people who do amazing and sometimes even simple acts of service that really makes our world and environment a more livable place. We currently live in a land of convenience - an era of instant gratifications. Yet we sometimes forget that we have an obligation that can at times be bigger than our selves and our families. Imagine what our community would be like if we all lived by a stronger code of self value and appreciation. If we lived not just for right now but for the future as well. We want to thank all the unsung heroes out there that do our community a service and do it without recognition.

It is sad to think we live in a world where people easily litter and dispose of their unwanted items without care or consideration of the environmental consequence. On the flipside we also live in an amazing world where people like Mrs. White care enough to pick up the slack of others!

Monday, April 14, 2014


There is something nostalgic about ice cream. It personally brings me back to when I was a child and we would make a slight detour on our way back from Reid State Park. We would pull over to this farm that served ice cream and homemade treats. It was always the highlight of the trip. As I grew older my love for ice cream did too. When I was old enough my parents would throw me a few dollars to chase down the ice cream truck. Some push pop or ice cream sandwich for me. Always a snow cone for my mother. I never understood what she saw in those things...what is so special about just flavored ice. Why go for the snow cone when there were so many other option to choose from?

Now some 25 years later I'm still chasing down ice cream. I have tried Beal's, the Dairy Joys, Gifford's and even that famous Vermont ice cream that helped me get through those long night of college cramming. But nowadays its a little place in Auburn called Sundae's Ice Cream Shoppe that I find myself returning to weekly for my ice cream fix. When you walk into Sundae's on Center Street you are putting yourself in the near presence of some of the best ice cream in the state. But what it offers that is even richer than the ice cream, is the unmatchable service the crew there delivers time and time again. Always with a smile, always with a glowing hello. At the helm of this establishment is Alison Bennett. The more we learn about her...the more amazing she becomes. Bellow is our interview.

DNA: Why and when did you decide to get into the ice cream business?

Mrs. Bennett: "Stan and I had talked for a long time about opening an ice cream business. He grew up on Round Top ice cream and knew that he would want to sell it. Our idea started as a
small walk-up shop and quickly morphed into the shop it is today!"


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Ever walk by a mirror at night and swear that you've seen something a little extra in your reflection? How about one of those late night walk to the fridge for a drink and as you brought that glass to your lips a tingling sensation shot up the back of your neck and instantly you felt as though you were no longer standing alone. Then there are always the odd movements and shadows you catch out of the corner of your eye. Some experts believe that these occurrences are simply mental manifestations – your imagination getting the best of you. Then there are the believers like the cast of Haunt ME who have accepted that we are not alone and have decided to do something about it. We caught up with Haunt ME’s Ty Gowen and decided a perfect place to learn of his service and conduct our photo shoot would be in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery.

Growing up Gowen had a few paranormal experiences which confused him a great deal. “I didn’t have the tools to cope or explain what had happened,” he shared. “No one I knew talked about the paranormal back then – it was a huge taboo.” Unable to share his events Gowen felt guilty for retelling his unique moments. “This wasn’t anyone’s fault,” he said. “Ghosts just weren’t something anyone ever talked about.”

This started to change as television shows like Ghost Hunters grew in popularity. “Shows like that showed me that other people had unexplained stories as well,” he said. “I devoured these shows for information and pairing this with my lifelong drive to explore the unknown - I grabbed my flashlight and headed out into the dark.

While on his journey to flush out the answers he so desired, Gowen met up Ashley Brooks who had also experiencing paranormal encounters. They teamed up with a group of friends and formed Haunt ME. The group was drawn together with a common desire to record their adventures of haunting activity and share it with the world. They wanted to do it right so they brought on friend and NYU graduate Nick Nordfors to handle their video editing needs.

After the team was assembled they turned to to help air their program. Since then the team has not looked back and have just aired their second season. During their first two season they visited 12 locations in Maine.

Reading the above one may ask – how does one determine if a place is haunted and in what ways does this crew determine if paranormal activity is or has happened at a certain location? Gowen took some time and explained a few of the tools his team uses to track energy in the areas they investigate. The team uses their findings from the investigation, mixed with the accounts of third-party encounters, and then determine whether the energy of an area seems to be a residual or intelligent behavior. From there they rank the venue on a scale of 1-10.

When asked what he does on the team he said that he is an “audio evidence analyst.” His specialty is reviewing the audio captured during haunts he records all night. He then tries to isolate any possible EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) that he might have captured. “However, nothing about ghost hunting is an exact science, and no matter how confident you are, every once and awhile you can get sidelined,” he said. “This happened to all of us in Season 1, Episode 6 (Two of Swords). We had no warning of what was waiting for us there, and we got rocked.”

DNA Photography looked into how many ghost services are actually offered in the state and we  were unable to find many listed. which would lead one to believe that such a rare service could get bogged down with requests to inspect supposedly haunted locations. “We get contacted by people with haunted locations that they want featured more so now than when we first started. A lot of our favorite cases are the ones we hadn’t heard of, or are less notable in the press,” Gowen said. “We screen our locations based on filming requirements, history and claims before we investigate. We want to make sure our viewers enjoy watching us investigate as much as we do performing them.”  

For their second season the crew invested more into their filming gear so to help produce a more professional show. “There are stationary infrared cameras that record all night, we also have the crew follow us around with handheld infrared cameras,” Gowen said. “Each investigator is now individually mic’d so we can capture every gasp and scream too.”

A pair of Gowen’s most memorable investigations were when his crew received permission to “delve into the Biddeford Textile Mills and traveling north to Fort Knox,” he said. “Both places are venues that I never dreamt of having after-hour access too.” Gowen truly enjoys the rich histories of some of the locations they have visited and is often found awestruck standing on the grounds where so many have passed before him.  

Being familiar with reality shows DNA asked Gowen how much embellishment is performed by the crew as a means to "play up" to the camera. Gowen insists that no such thing occurs with his team. “What you see is what you get,” he said. “We need to have a real trusting relationship with our viewers. We’re asking a lot of them to believe us and what we encounter so embellishing at all or faking evidence would absolutely break that bond.”

Gowen’s duty is to capture experiences and deliver some kind of tangible evidence for those who are curious about such things. “The reasons spirits try to contact us varies widely from reassurance to guidance and even sometimes for malice,” he said.

Before we close this profile DNA Photography wants to help explain the difference between a residual and intelligent spirit.

A residual haunt is when there is left over energy in a place that moves and acts as though it is going through a repetitive motion. “It’s like if you listen to a song on a record too long and you wear a grove in the vinyl,” Gowen explained. “An entity has engrained itself in the fabric of reality playing out the action over and over again. You can’t interact with these hauntings as they are just left over energy.” Gowen’s best example of this kind of haunt is when a bone-chilling scream continues to reoccurs at 3am in horror movies.

The second type of haunt is an intelligent haunt. These are Gowen’s favorite for it gives him the chance to actually interact with a spirit in some way or another. “We are lucky enough to have been able to do this a few times (on the show).”

For more information on Haunt ME’s internet broadcast visit If you have questions about the paranormal and/or want the team to consider a location to investigate, you can email They will see if a visit is possible during the filming of their upcoming third season. The crew doesn’t get paid for its services but welcomes donations to help pay for needed upgrades to their technology.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


For some people losing is winning and that was not only the goal but an adopted lifestyle of one individual who set out to win her body back by losing the weight that was keeping her from attaining happiness. Megan Skilling has worked hard to regain control of her weight situation and has become and inspiration to all around her. So how did she do it - how did she lose over 100lbs and continues to keep off the pounds? Let's find out!

Skilling said she had tried several times to lose and found that nothing was really working for her. "I joined a gym and hated every minute of it," she said. "We even have a treadmill and elliptical in the basement" but that too just wasn't enough to get her going. Unable to find the power within herself she found the strength in a higher power.

"My pasture gave a sermon on why resolutions fail. He said 'its easy to make a promise to yourself and let yourself down. Instead, why not make a promise to God. It's much harder to let him down.

Doing it for a cause bigger than her self provided her with the drive to get back to the gym. This time she thought it was going to be different. Sadly a few months later her visits to the gym decreased. "I was losing interest because I wasn't seeing results as fast as I wanted."

Then everything changed when a friend had invited her to attend a Zumba® class. She attended her first class on April 25, 2011. She remembers at first struggling physically and mentally. "At 330-plus pounds just standing for an hour was hard, never mind dancing," she said

Despite the difficulty, she continued to return to class. Fast forward three years and Skilling is not only still doing Zumba® but has been a certified instructor for over two years.

April marks the anniversary of her journey with Zumba® and she is constantly reminded of how far she has come with an annual photo. However, this also reminds her of the psychological struggle put herself through. "When you are over weight it takes courage to go to a gym or go to a class. I already felt self conscious about my body and now others were going to be looking at me, making judgments," she remembered. I had to get passed the that and be proud of the fact that I was taking the steps to becoming a healthier and happier person."

Having lost so much weight has changed her life and now allows her to do things she has always wanted and dreamed of doing. In the last year alone she has completed two 5K runs and plans on running another one this fall. But more importantly, she is now able to do some of the simpler things that we sometimes take for granted like just sitting on the floor - something that she truly has grown to love doing with her students in her classroom.

Flying in planes is now easier and more comfortable without the need of an extension pieces for her seat belts. Skilling's life changing experience has also lead her to an active life of exciting activities which have included zip lining and skiing for the first time ever.

For her the door has been opened. Less of saying no to things that she would like to try and a lot more of saying yes. "I would love to get down to 165lbs," she said. That is what she weighed in sixth grade.

So what advice does she have for others trying to regain control of their body weight? "Don't look at the big goal - you will only get discouraged," she urges people. "Set small goals." Every time she hit one of her benchmarks she would take a photo and place it in her scrapbook.

Another piece of advice she wants people to walk away from her story is to find a family - a group that makes you feel good and gets you motivated to keep coming back for more. "Going to class gave me friends - something I lacked, and these friends kept me coming back.," she said. "It provided socialness. We would laugh and have fun. The working out part - well that was just a bonus."

Skilling has been so successful in her weight loss endeavors that she had lost 40% of her original body weight faster than her skin could recover. Which translates to loose skin hanging off her body that was once filled with fat. After a long internal debate she finally decided to get surgery done to remove the loose skin which was causing pain and discomfort when she worked out. "I wanted to fix it on my own," she said but then remembered that she was never really on her own. "I had my family, friends and God all backing me up."

Throughout the course of the last three years she has learned that there is really no right way or one way to lose weight. She also has come to understand that there are ups and downs along the way and that "you will slip up - you will get that flat tire."

The challenge is to all yourself the forgiveness of your slip up and continue on to your destination. Skilling remembers when her doctor used to inform her yearly that her tests came back fine but his only concern was her weight. An issue that he said would only change once she was ready to make a change - once she really wanted it. "And three years ago, I decided that I wanted it, she said.

Nowadays one could say Skilling has caught the workout bug. In addition to Zumba® she now does a variety of workout routines that include Bokwa®, P90X, Butts and Guts, and even running.

Want to know more about Skilling's workout check out her instructor page -

Monday, March 24, 2014


Now that the Sochi Winter Olympics are over we may all have a better understanding of some of the winter sports we enjoyed following. In our little corner of the world, our family fell in love with the Skeleton event. The luge is impressive, the bobsled amazing...but going headfirst down a sheet of ice on nothing more than a small sled at upwards of 80 mph...well that is crazy...and has earned our respect!

This is why when we found a young woman from New Glouctier who is on the National Skeleton Development Program...we jumped at the chance to profile her. We traveled down to Sherri Emery's neck of the woods and had an amazing time trying out her sled and really getting to know this incredible woman who sports not only an ear to ear smile...but also a first-class attitude.

Here is our interview with Miss Emery:

DNA: Where are you from what are you currently doing with your life?

Miss Emery: "I am from New Gloucester, Maine and I am a skeleton athlete, coach, trainer, and student."

DNA: What made you get into skeleton and do you normally look for thrill-seeking activities?

Miss Emery: "I was introduced to skeleton in Lake Placid, NY. In 2006, I watched the Torino Olympics and decided that was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t till 2008 that I became interested in skeleton. I would say that I like some thrill-seeking activities and some activities that are pretty calm. I really enjoy activities like reading, tennis, and golf. I also jump at the opportunity to go exploring new places and try new things. I would like to become a pilot and a business owner."

DNA: What drew you to this sport the most?

Miss Emery: "What drew me to the sport was the ice. I’ve always loved the Winter Olympics more than the summer Olympics... maybe its because I grew up in Maine. I have always admired bobsled too. When I went to Lake Placid in 2008, it was to take a bobsled ride. I saw skeleton and wanted to be in an individual sport, so I tried it and like it. 

DNA: How long have you been into the sport and how long have you bee associated with the National team?

Miss Emery: "I’ve been involved in the sport for 5 years but have only been competitive for two seasons. I am not on the national team, I am part of the development program. The top six athletes ranked in US Team Trials are named to the National Team."

DNA: How does one get on to such a team?

Miss Emery: "In order to be on the National Team I have to place within the top six athletes at US Team Trials in October."

DNA: Does this sport allow for you to travel a lot and how often do you get to travel for it? In addition to that what country has been your favorite so far?

Miss Emery: "The sport is all travel. There are only two places in the USA where I can train on a track. Lake Placid, NY and Park City, UT. So I can’t even train at home in Maine. All the other tracks are in Canada and Europe. So in order to get better, I have to travel to all of the 14 tracks. I’ve been to Lake PLacid, Park City, Calgary, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland all because of my sports travel. I just happened to stop in Ireland on the way home from one of my races.

Out of all those countries I would say Austria has been my favorite with Germany a close second. I am learning German and find their culture to be particularly interesting."

DNA: Where do you train for the sport and explain the facility for us?

Miss Emery: "I spend most of my training in Lake Placid, New York mainly because it is closest to home. Luckily in Lake Placid there is an Olympic Training Center where I stay. They have a gymnasium, cafeteria, housing, sports medicine, weight room, and lounges. It is perfect for an athlete to get stronger. The bobsled track in Lake Placid is a long tube of ice and concrete that twists and turns. I ride down it on my sled."

DNA: Have you ever competed nationally and how have you finished?

Miss Emery: "I have competed in national competitions and international competitions. I have recently claimed a bronze medal in US Championships and my best international placements was 6th in Lake Placid North American Cup Race."

DNA: How much control do you really have over the sled?

Miss Emery: "The control over my sled varies. It is made to bend around turns- so I press my shoulders or knees into it to steer it. I can change multiple variables to give me more grip on the ice by adjusting my runners (steel tubes that touch the ice) and the amount of arch in them."

DNA: Have you ever thought about the bobsled or the luge?

Miss Emery: "I thought about bobsled but wanted to be in an individual sport instead of a team sport. Luge was not an option to me, I really had no interest in it. I like the luge, but I do not want to be a luge athlete."

DNA: Where from here do you hope to go - what are your skeleton goals...and how close are you from reaching some of them?

Miss Emery: "My ultimate goal in skeleton is to make it to the highest level, which is the Olympics. But it is also much more than that. I want to get to that level because I’ve mastered the skills to be there. So in order to make it, I have to determine what my strengths and weaknesses are. Then I must develop my weaknesses, keep my strengths strong, and work some more on my weaknesses. This requires me to constantly question my thinking patterns, abilities, and goals to make them as efficient as possible. Right now I feel like I am in the middle. I am past just learning the basics but have not yet developed the advanced skills needed to consistently be on top. This is why training is so important."

 DNA: When did you first fall in love with the sport and what did your family first think? 14 What has the sport brought to your life?

Miss Emery: "I first fell in love with the sport, probably this year. I think before this year I was involved just to go to the Olympics. Now I have a whole different relationship with the sport. I have more respect for skeleton and the challenges it shows. In order to be the best, I’ve realized (through many mistakes mentally, physically, and emotionally) that I can’t hide or ignore my weaknesses. Somehow they will show up and it will hurt my performance if I do nothing about it. That’s why I really love the sport, because it forces me to develop myself even if I don’t really want to see things for what they really are. It’s a great wake-up call."

DNA: What do you enjoy most of the sport and is there a skeleton community?

Miss Emery: "The skeleton community is very different from most communities because we are all competing for ourselves and our team. Sounds counterintuitive? Well it seems like it sometimes. I’ve come across people who try to intimidate me to see how it affects me. I don’t really think that’s good sportsmanship but some people may not see it that way. Also it’s hard to help your competitors, but it needs to be done. I believe in karma and if the person beating me needs help with something and I am the only one that can help them, so be it I will help, may the better athlete win. Withholding helps me only, but when I need the help-will they help me? I just hope other athletes have the same view, and I have been fortunate enough to find some. I would say the best part about the sport is finding out all the little things about me that I can improve. I am sort of a reserved person most of the time and like to find ways to make things better including myself."

***To find out more about Sherri or follow her adventures visit*** 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Spirit is something that can be discovered but not taught. And there can be something said about the crazy spirits who battle the brisk February air in hopes to claim Camden Bowl's annual US National Toboggan Championship. DNA Photography ventured out to Hosmer Pond in February in hopes to catch the last few runs of the tournament and to see if reigning champions (Tim Flick and his crew) could repeat another clean sweep of all the major events as they did in 2013. The boys faired well and managed to repeat as the 2-man champions. Below find a current photo of Flick from this year's event in addition to a feature story we covered on him in the Lewiston/Auburn Magazine in December of 2012 (please not that we have added a few updates where we felt it was needed). 

Waking up to a fresh mound of virgin snow is a dream come true for many young Mainers. Grabbing a thin plastic sled and heading to the largest hill in the area becomes a priority. A strenuous trek through knee-high snow to the crest of the hill is the price that must be paid for an exhilarating journey down the slope. And after the adrenaline rush is over, it’s back up the hill again. Most of those who enjoy careening down hills on sleds are young, but not all. Timothy Flick, 48 (now 49), of Turner is one who refuses to let his inner child die and not only does he continue to slide down icy slopes, he is one of four teammates who have held the title of national toboggan champion.

Every February Camden’s Snow Bowl on Ragged Mountain is transformed into a national competition that draws in thousands of spectators and competitors. “This year marks its 23rd year,” Flick said. “I’ve been competing since 1993 and will keep competing until my body stops me from doing it.”

This national competition is rare and according to organizers it may be the only wooden toboggan race of its kind in the world. “There are teams that come from all over, some from Canada and one from as far down as Virginia,” Flick said. He started competing back when he lived in New York. His brother-in-law, Doug Pope of Warren, asked him if he would like to race in a toboggan competition that Pope’s employer, Bohndell Sails (owned by Bob and Susan Chase of Camden), was sponsoring at the time.

“I was familiar with Maine because my mother was from Farmington and we spent most of our summers here,” he said. “I figured tobogganing was something fun and different to try.” Flick helped Pope form teams and together they crafted their own toboggans to race.

The competition plays out as a fun-filled weekend for the whole family and comes complete with vendors, costume and food contests and a flurry of possible awards ranging from fastest kid’s run to the oldest team.

The original chute was built back in 1936 and then rebuilt again in 1954 by the local Coast Guardsmen. Rot forced the shutdown of the chute in 1964 and it was not resurrected until 1990. “It’s 400 feet long and empties onto a frozen Hosmer Pond,” he said. “You get going pretty fast and before you know it, you’re at the bottom quickly looking to make your way back up for another run.” Every team gets two runs in each contest they enter. “You want to try and get your first run in as early as possible before it warms up,” he said. “The colder it is the better your run will be.”

Records indicate that toboggans have reached speeds up to 40 mph on the chute. According to Flick several variables help or hurt the speed of a sled. “It has to be made of the right material,” he said, revealing that his team’s wood choice is ash. “It also helps to get as aerodynamic as possible; this means you need to be comfortable getting quite friendly with your teammates,” he said, elaborating on his team’s centipede-like formation they use in order to get all of the riders on their sleds. Sleds are inspected for length and weight amongst other strict requirements.

So what does it take to be a national toboggan champion? “Good craftsmanship, an understanding of the elements and the chute, and of course luck,” he said. Flick believes he has had his share of that seeing as last year was the first time he worked primarily alone on crafting one of his team’s sleds and it happened to be the one that his team used to secure and win their first four-person victory.

In 2013 Flick and company did what he believe to be the first true sweep by winning the 4-person-, three-person- and two person events.

So what draws this born-and-raised upstate New Yorker with a bachelor’s in biology to such a unique sport? “It has to be the overall fun of the event and the unique characters you get to meet that really makes the event enjoyable,” he said. “That and it is something different for people to experience and is a sure cure for cabin fever.”

(To read the complete unabridged story visit