Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Published 8:53 AM by with 4 comments

The Wonderful People of Portland

Portland, Oregon is a hive of activity so it's a treat as a photographer to wander the streets and capture photos of not only the things that give it character but the people themselves. During my time there, my friend Glenn and I decided to go to an event called "Last Thursday" which is basically a street fair with artists, musicians and everything in between. It's held every week during the summer months.

I don't always feel comfortable photographing people while they going about their lives because it feels like I am violating their privacy. Only if I find someone really compelling will I do that. I'm a little shy about approaching people to ask if I can take their photograph but Glenn, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He boldly approaches people, disarms them with his charm and big kid smile and usually gets their consent for a picture.

With an event like "Last Thursday", people are there to be seen. They dress up and show off so it's a much more comfortable environment to snap photos. Frankly, I think people assume I am with some kind of publication when they see my big ass camera so they tend to be quite accommodating. When I can, I get their contact information and send the photographs or a link to where I have published them. It's mutually beneficial that way.

We encountered this colorful character on the streets of Portland earlier in the day. "She" was a very confident, seen-it-all, don't-fuck-with-me kinda gal but was quite charming at the same time and gladly allowed us to capture her likeness.

This artist had just finished the mural on the wall behind him. He was pretty pumped up and we had fun with him.

When I walk through a sea of people, there are always a few that stand out above the rest. This woman was one of them. I loved her free spirit and joyful demeanor. We asked if she had a business card so we could send the photos and she asked us if we would mind watching her stuff while she ran to get them. I love how trusting some people are :)

It was a hot day and after walking up and down the entire length of the fair a few times, Glenn and I ducked into a cool little bar for a beer. The bartender gladly posed for a picture (okay, maybe she just tolerated us).

There were many musicians playing on the street. I really liked the whole vibe of this guy. So many stories in his expression and body art.

I passed by this woman when we arrived first and made a mental note to come back and ask if I could take her picture. When we circled around again, she actually asked if we would shoot her! I think she is mesmerizing and beautiful.

Another woman I saw when I arrived that I just knew I had to shoot. I can't describe why I find some people so compelling but she is one of them. She had a wonderfully peaceful aura about her.

Loved the hat. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she would mind if I took her photograph. She said fine and turned turned away. It was funny because usually when I ask, the person will then engage with me. She just went about her business like I wasn't there. It was fine with me because I got more natural candid shots of her instead. I really liked the atmosphere in this shot, kinda like it was shot at Woodstock back in the day.

Okay, this is obviously not a person but I couldn't pass the shot up. The dog just sat there like it was no big thing that he was wearing the coolest mask on the planet.

The monkey suit teeshirt and this man's amazing face made for an unusual pairing. He was part of a group of drummers playing what sounded to me like Native American music.

This is my friend Glenn. I saw a storefront with some pretty strong fluorescent bulbs and wanted to use their glow for this portrait.

As the night drew in, this guy was off in the distance serving some kind of barbecued meat. The single strong light and dark background made it look like he could have been on a stage. 

It's rare when a street fair has so much interest for me. Mostly it's just regular vendors selling the same old stuff over and over again and the people are pretty ordinary. Not so with Portland, it truly is a boiling pot of many very interesting personality types.

Glenn and I started the day at 5:30am and finished up around 10pm. We wracked up 12 miles of walking  in our quest to find the perfect photograph. It was truly a great day and I'll miss him when we move to our next destination.


Glenn Lacey said...

Yes, this is a day I will always remember. Having all of these beautiful pictures is a great way to relive the experience. As for the 12 miles of walking, my blisters will fade, but the memories will always be with me.

Fred Wishnie said...

I still feel portraiture is one of your special talents. There's not a ho hum pic in the group. Fantastic!

dreamjosie said...

Again....you're killing me here. I love all your photos, but I think Fred is right. Portraiture is your strongest suit.

Steven Dempsey said...

Glenn, we will do this again next year. Thank you for making it all happen with transport, etc.

Thank you Fred and Jo. Portraiture remains one of my favorite things about photography.