Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And the winner of the Perseverance Award is....

In September 2009, more than eight months ago, long enough to gestate almost a whole baby for crying out loud, Aerica sent me a note about doing a session together. We met in a coffee shop sometime in the fall and I liked her immediately. She is a melange of quirks, shy and charming, creative and self-effacing, quick to smile but her laugh is very quiet. I was ready to run straight to the studio, but it was not to go that easy path. Eight months passed, while boyfriends came and went, while hair was trimmed and grew back out, while winter clouded over and broke back into spring, while camera lenses fell from my fragile fingers and splayed out on the floor. Finally, we found the right day. She lugged a box of clothes that almost dislocated her shoulders and I spread out Cotswald cheese, fresh strawberries, croissants and mango juice. This is Aerica. The set can be viewed here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I meet the nicest people!

I was out for my usual camera stroll and met Allison, a poet, who was kind enough to sit and visit for a while. As I observed to her in a subsequent email, it is amazing how a stranger can suddenly feel like a friend. Though she confided that she "doesn't photograph well," she indulged me that day. Hopefully her displeasure with the resulting image will compel her to let me try again. And again. This is her gift:

Playing Dead

They had decided—only three. So if the second
hadn't refused, hadn't come undone and bled
its way out of my mother, I wouldn't be alive.
I suppose I should be thankful.
My brother was the third, the charmed one,
born with a slip of beauty as if in compensation
for having followed through. Since I was the last,
I got the hand-me-downs—a few good bones,
the lanky shadow—the makings
of a shabby reproduction. His eyes were dark,
kohl-black; mine were ash-gray, evidence
of something scorched, burnt down—but what
my brother had been given didn't matter:
it seemed he couldn't get enough
of death—after all, he'd followed just behind it,
he knew its raw, wet scent, how cold it was,
how perfect. As children we took baths together;
sitting in the lukewarm water, he'd lean his head
against the tub's cool porcelain, slide down
until the water rinsed his ears, his bottom lip
between his teeth, eyes closed. I pressed my hand
against his chest, held still and waited for the heart
to pause, the churn of blood to turn to silence.
He was playing dead. He called it practicing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Studio 303 is BORN!

Studio 303, the creation of seven mad photographers of Portland, is a collective studio space in the old Town Storage warehouse just off the Burnside Bridge in east Portland. The space is just lovely, with huge southern windows and old wood floors. Images to follow very soon!

Thanks to Dan Davis for the image. There is more about the building at his blog,


Friday, April 2, 2010

Big Day

The book is officially released today! Have a look and see what you see. If you like, all proceeds go to support autism research. The details are here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sidewalk Management Plan? No Thanks.

The mayor's office here in Portland is hell-bent of cleaning the panhandlers off the sidewalks of the city. Last year their "sit-lie" law, which made it illegal to sit or lay down on the sidewalk, was tossed out of court as unconstitutional. This year, under the guise of making the sidewalks usable for the disabled, the mayor has introduced his new Sidewalk Management Plan, which proposes a "sidewalk usage framework based on the Americans With Disabilities Act". I submitted the following letter to the mayor's team:

I use a wheelchair almost every day in downtown Portland. Though I have to steer around many obstacles in the course of my day (people, cafe tables, MANY roots and holes, etc) I am not troubled by that. It is part of living in a vibrant city.

I think this initiative is a way to push back the homeless under the guise of concern for the wheelchair users, and to that I say no thank you. My path is obstructed FAR more often by your "permitted" cafe tables (which spill out almost to the curb sometimes and are combined with padlocked bicycles and sandwich board advertisements to make an impassable mess) than by any homeless folks or panhandlers.

If you allow cafes to block my path if they get a permit, will you also allow a permit for a homeless person to sit in the shade and hold a sign. If it's raining, would he need a permit to huddle against the wall to keep his sleeping bag dry? Would that permit be administratively and financially accessible to a person with that functional and financial capacity?

I do not want my city to be a tourist/shopper monoculture. I do not want you behaving in unjust ways in my name. If a homeless man is in my way, I am fine asking him to move. I don't need your new initiative to shove him into the river for me.

I have recently been working on a series of photographs based on a conversation I had with a panhandler during which he described the experience. "The worst part is that nobody looks you in the eye. Even when they give you something they won't look at you. It's like I'm a hole in the sidewalk." This is a sample shot but the whole series can be seen here.

In the spirit of support for my brothers and sisters on the street, I am offering for sale the series of photographs for $300. I will also sell individual prints for $50. All proceeds will be donated to the Sisters of the Road to support their advocacy on behalf of the homeless.