Hawthorne Blvd, a photographic stroll

Posted in Photography, Portraiture, Travel by daybf on March 16, 2011

Portland is divided north to south by Burnside St and the Willamette river divides east and west. I primarily stayed on the west side, since my hotel was in the northwest and the transportation via the streetcar and the MAX get you everywhere on the west side. You have to take buses to get over the river (except for the airport and IKEA where the MAX goes). I knew I had to make my way over to the Hawthorne District in the southeast where all the hipsters hangout (supposedly). Kind of like the Mission District in San Francisco. I also heard Hawthorne Blvd. in particular be called the Haight-Ashbury of Portland. In any case, I took a bus over and got off at 30th and Hawthorne and walked down to about 41st where there seemed to be less to walk to and see.

The vibe was instantly different. A little grungier (in a normal city kind of way) and reminded me of my hometown Santa Cruz’s downtown.  Neat old buildings housed coffee shops, diners, boutiques. Unique privately owned stores promised one-of-a-kind finds, such as vintage clothing and vinyls. On this day I decided I would conquer my fear of photographing strangers. So, I made a promise to myself that I would ask at least one stranger if I could take their picture. It turns out I asked many  more and none of them said no! However, I also carefully chose who to ask.

I initially wanted to photograph some hipsters, since Shannon’s mom Sarah was still unsure of what a hipster was. But, it was 38 degrees and I think the hipsters were hiding (indoors). Or, were not simply roaming the streets on a Sunday like I was. I got to photograph super nice and interesting people, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting more over-the-top hipsters. In any case, I’ll let my pictures speak for themselves now.

My first subjects were these teenagers in ghillie suits hiding in bushes and scaring pedestrians.

This violinist was super talented and taken aback when I asked if I could take his picture. He thanked me and said that most people don’t ask.
Doesn’t he have a great smile?
Another musician, who was very serious for someone who seemed to be a young teenager. But I’m bad with ages…

This man had a booth for PGE (Portland General Electric, too similar to PG&E) and I stopped and talked to him for awhile about this new thing you could sign up for to save energy, etc. Then he graciously let me take his photograph. Love the hat and beard, and check out those eyes of his!
I went into this herb shop to buy some loose leaf tea, and photographed the employee who had impressively long dreads. She was sweet and timid, but didn’t even flinch at the idea of having her photograph taken.

Most of the dogs I saw wore little coats to keep them warm, but this little guy had a furry parka!
I stopped at The Fresh Pot coffee shop inside of Powell’s Books on Hawthorne. When I asked this woman for her picture and gave her my spiel she just said “I used to do that.”

Caught a Powell’s Books employee on a smoke break. “Uh, sure you can take my picture…what should I do?” “Oh, you can just keep smoking.” But then he continued to look right at me, which was what I really wanted.
It was a nerve-racking day full of firsts and I was constantly amazed at how kind everyone I ran into was. I gave all of my subjects my business card and told them to contact me if they wanted to see/have their photographs. About 4 of them got back to me, which I was pleased with.

Nina at Blackberry Farm

Posted in Photography, Portraiture by daybf on September 25, 2010

Last Thursday I had a fun freelance portrait job! I was pleased when Yelena called me and asked if I would mind taking photos of her mother’s friend. I was more than happy to have a new subject! It turns out the next day I talked to the friend in question (Nina), and then a day later I was on her door step having no idea what to expect. In a perfect world I would have scoped out locations and met her for coffee before the shoot to have a better idea of what she was looking for. In reality I finished my normal school photography work day, looked up Nina’s home address on my GPS, and headed over to Cupertino to shoot at a park called the Balckberry Farm near her home.

Nina was so prepared I could hardly believe it. She had chosen 4 outfits–which were neatly draped over her couch–along with matching shoes and jewelery for each option. I chose 2 and we were off! Despite the casual preparation, I got a lot of great shots. Nina was surprisingly comfortable in front of the camera and has these beautiful striking eyes that I’m totally jealous of. Now I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

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