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A cause for increased exposure

“Lee,” pictured in a yoga pose for the month of January.  - Courtesy of Pete Saloutos
“Lee,” pictured in a yoga pose for the month of January.
— image credit: Courtesy of Pete Saloutos

The ‘Lisa and Friends’ breast cancer benefit calendar hits stores.

Ask Lisa Lund what she thinks about seeing six months worth of legwork on a cancer benefit project finally come to fruition, and she’ll tell you she thinks it’s amazing.

With a caveat.

“It’s still weird to see myself nude on the counter at Island Fitness,” she said.

Lund is far from alone in her exposure. The Lisa and Friends 2008 calendar, a collaborative effort among herself, 11 other active local women and island photographer Pete Saloutos to benefit cancer research, is now on display at Island Fitness and other area venues.

Six years ago, a close friend of Saloutos, Cathy Doubleday, died of breast cancer. When in early 2007 his friend Lund told him she, too, had been diagnosed with the disease, he said he fell into “kind of a haze and a daze...thinking, ‘oh, here we go again.’”

By early March, the veteran photographer made a plan of action. He and Lund, who had by then begun treatment, started organizing the calendar effort – spreading the word, gathering models and setting up the non-profit Lisa Lund Fund as a conduit for funds distribution to breast cancer charities.

Lund said it took a little finessing to get the models, many of whom she and Saloutos knew through the island’s fitness community, on board. But having a few initial photographs, including the cover shot of herself cycling, reassured prospective participants that the pictures would be artful and tasteful.

“It’s definitely outside most of our comfort zones,” Lund said. “We don’t take off our clothes for everyone every day. Which is probably a good thing. But you’ve got to keep in mind the cause.”

Shoots took place over roughly three months in locales region-wide including the Hoh River Valley, the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades. The December shot of “Louise” playing piano is the only one that doesn’t depict an athlete. It’s Saloutos’ homage to his original inspiration for the project, the 2003 film “Calendar Girls.”

Saloutos found that whereas under typical circumstances he might encounter bureaucracy when staging certain shoots, doors opened for “Lisa and Friends.”

One example was the November picture of “Diane,” swimming with the sharks at the Seattle Aquarium. This proved the most technically challenging shot, and the one with the most built-in administrative hurdles.

“There’s no way they’re going to let me photograph a naked babe with sharks,” Saloutos thought.

But nearly without exception, each of the aquarium honchos got fully behind the project.

“One of the things I found here is that there’s only one degree of separation in America between people with breast cancer,” Saloutos said. “Everybody knows somebody.”

The calendar was released early this week, just about the same day Lund finished her cancer treatments. Given the late release date, Saloutos said the print run is small and local, and that he opted for quality over quantity.

But he’s already starting to get emails, calls and “rumblings” about doing a wider-spread re-release for 2009.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how much leg this has,” he said. “I do believe that because it ties into breast cancer, and it’s edgy, it’ll really be interesting to see how far it can go.”

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Calendar girls

Find “Lisa and Friends” on sale for $20 at Island Fitness, Eagle Harbor Book Co. and Roby King Galleries. The tax-deductible purchase goes to the non-profit Lisa Lund Fund to support breast cancer charities. A launch celebration will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at Island Fitness. See www.petesaloutos.com for more information.

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