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Click images for full 2000-pixel wide view. 

Kirk Jones is, like many, a photographer with a wandering path. Jones has worked with newspapers, assisted at a large commercial studios, and custom printed Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly‘s photographs.

Between 1994 and 1999, Jones freelanced in South East Asia, mainly in Vietnam and Cambodia. Upon returning to the U.S., he concentrated on web design and now manipulates Gigapixel imagery as a Senior Computer Scientist at Adobe. Three years ago, he made a return as a practicing photographer.

“I have slowly been easing myself back into the photographic world,” says Jones. His independent work has been published on CNN.com and NYTimes.com, his images featured in a documentary on Jesse Bernstein. He exhibits locally.

Over the past year, Jones has photographed clearcut logging, the urban growth boundaries that exists near Portland, OR, and the migrant work force that caters to the Oregon wine industry.

Black & White images from Jones’ Clearcut series and colour images from his Farm To Table series.

Prison Photography (PP): You’ve photographed a lot of different places, but I picked these because they were recent, close to our city of Portland and about economics, industry, nature, and the region’s culture. Why the interest in clearcut logging?

Kirk Jones (KJ): Witnessing the clearcuts along the Western Oregon highways recently, I experienced the same emotions as it did when I was young and gazing from the car window. Most of us that live here, and those that visit, at some point witness these open landscapes – often behind the veil of trees left standing along the roadside.

Photography is a medium to express what I observe happening close to home. Logging is an multi-faceted issue and something that contributes to our economy here in Oregon.

I have a long history of considering nature and my place within it. I grew up in the Midwest and lived in Northern Minnesota until my junior year of high school. The area is known for lakes and forests and natural beauty, but it is also an area known for timber and for massive strip mining.

Attending college at Evergreen in Olympia, WA – around the time of the spotted owl movement – sparked my affinity with the environment. Evergreen College was, and remains, a magnet for environmentalists and environmental theory.

I recall during trips to the coast that the lumber companies left a thick row of trees along the highway to mask the reality of what was going on behind; I felt like they were trying to hide something.

Click images for full 2000-pixel wide view.

PP: This work is in the legacy of Robert Adams, Eirik Johnson, Christopher Lamarca and many others who look at the Pacific Northwest landscape with wry, open eyes. How should we be relating to our natural resources, in life and in photography?

KJ: Without a connection to your natural surroundings it is difficult to connect to feelings of being alive. We are fortunate to live not only in an area of amazing natural beauty, but in a country that (hopefully) will continue to pursue the protection and respect for nature. It’s a fight.

I’m not advocating that natural resources shouldn’t be consumed around us, but I believe there are right ways to do this and wrong ways. I don’t think strip mining and clear cutting are responsible short or long term.

If photography can help illustrate, change or illuminate crisis, then I have faith that imagery can be a catalyst for crisis management.

PP: How do you characterize the Portland photography scene?

KJ: It has been quite a while since I was more entrenched in the photo scene. During the early 1990’s I worked at a large commercial studio in Portland as well as at The Film Lab located on the NW Park (gone now).

At that time there was a lot going on and you could feel Portland growing. I traveled and worked abroad before returning to the region a few years ago so I am just now reconnecting with photography in Portland.

I’ve gone to strobist shoots, stay active on a few mailing lists for local photographers, and test equipment for the teams at Gigapan. I look at local work when I can. The Portland photography scene appears to be healthy and there are a ton of cool things happening. I’ve been working on individual projects over the last few years and look forward to connecting with others.

Doug Lowell, from the series Seated

Eye On PDX is spreading its wings. It’s not migrating and flying the coop, but rather subdividing itself and doubling the product.

From beside a fire pit last month, I asked Blake Andrews if he wanted join the meandering inquiry into photographers here in Portland, OR. Blake hopped on board. The fact Blake lives in Eugene, two hours south, does not effect his credentials. He’s up here every other week to shoot, talk and gallery-hop. Besides, he knows everyone here that needs to be known; he lived in Portland years ago before it was post-Cool.

Eye On PDX is an ongoing series of profiles that feature a brief interview with a PDX photographer accompanied by a handful of photos.

Blake’s profile of Douglas Lowell expands Eye on PDX to B. And Blake is delivering awesome content that I simple can not. “Has a photograph ever made you cry?” Blake asks Doug. C’mon! Awesome.

Doug and Blake’s to-and-fro is lively and considered – the photobook as poetry and the importance of ideas over place. Read the full interview with Doug Lowell.

One point of clarification. When Blake says, “Pete will handle all of the photographers who are imprisoned felons and I will handle the rest,” he is having a lark. Any photographers I interview who work in Portland and happen to be felons will not be imprisoned.

Continuing Eye on PDX, my weekly series about Portland-based photographers, I speak with Lisa Gidley. Featured here are photographs from across her many portfolios.

Prison Photography: How do you characterise the PDX photo scene?

Lisa Gidley: I only know some of the people doing photography in Portland. I know the folks in the photo groups Lightleak and the Portland Grid Project. Even in these groups, we all have different aesthetics and approaches – analog/digital, B&W/color, portraits/other scenes. What we have got in common is that we usually capture recognizable pieces of the real world.

Although I love lots of postmodern art, photography that’s been obviously Photoshopped isn’t my thing. I feel a pretty strong allegiance to the more realistic and unfiltered style of photography, and I’ve got excellent company in Lightleak and Grid. Plus, they’re all cool people and talented photographers who keep me on my toes. Our regular photo meetings motivate me to make some decent work each month, since I know they’ll all be bringing some terrific prints. It’s great to have a photo community that spurs you to keep shooting. Like sharks with cameras: shoot or die.

PP: An Instax photograph of yours was featured atop Joerg Colberg’s recent piece The Single Photograph. You’ve been using this “Polaroid equivalent” for some time and I’ve witnessed the joy of Faulkner Short, Blake Andrews, yourself and others when using this instant-film camera. You’re involved with instaxgratification, a Tumblr of Instax photos by Blake, Faulkner, yourself and others. What’s with the Instax Camera craze?

LG: I think the appeal is similar to that of genuine old Polaroids. Especially in this digital age, there’s a thrill to immediately having a cool little physical object that doesn’t exist anywhere else (at least until you scan it). Once you’ve taken a shot, that’s it: no cropping or color balancing or special effects added after the fact. That finality is nice. The prints are compelling to look at and to handle — they’re proportioned well and have a satisfying heft. Plus, the Fuji lenses are sharp, the color saturation’s good, and from what I can tell, the prints are fairly long-lasting. It’s a fun system.

PP: Why do you make photos?

LG: It’s a compulsion! I love looking at all sorts of photographs, and I love the challenge of trying to make photos I’d like to look at myself. With the type of photography I usually do — where I rove around different places and shoot whatever interesting scenes I come across — the main appeal is the thrill of the hunt. It’s fun to wander with a camera with no idea of what I’ll find, if anything. I typically shoot on film so it’s a few days of anticipation before I know if I’ve captured anything decent. Getting the developed film back is the best thing. After that, it’s also satisfying to make prints and share the images online and otherwise try to get my photos out into the world, but those activities are secondary to the process of shooting. I’m usually antsy to get back out again. There’s always something else to photograph.

On September 1, 1987, while engaged in a protest against the shipping of U.S. weapons to Central America in the context of the Contra wars, S. Brian Willson and other members of a Veterans Peace Action Team blocked railroad tracks at the Concord, California Naval Weapons Station. An approaching train did not stop, and struck the veterans. Willson was hit, ultimately losing both legs below the knee while suffering a severe skull fracture with loss of his right frontal lobe. Subsequently, he discovered that he had been identified for more than a year as an FBI domestic “terrorist” suspect under President Reagan’s anti-terrorist task force provisions and that the train crew that day had been advised not to stop the train.

Mark Colman has lived in Portland, Oregon for five years. In the past 12 months, he has been working on a portrait project called Faces of Occupy. Each portrait is accompanied by words from the sitter; many of them thoughtful, loving and persuasive statements.

In addition to many original Portland Occupiers, Colman has photographed international figures including Ralph Nader, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Chris Hedges.

Please spend some time with each of the individuals upon whom he has trained his lens. As we know, Occupy touches upon many complex issues, and these are issues that deserve time. Any summary from me would be reductive. I did just have one question for Mark though. I asked what Occupy meant to him.

“Occupy is a way to spread awareness of many things that are wrong for 99% of Americans,” says Colman. “Whether it’s corporate personhood, Wall Street bailouts, illegal bank foreclosures, the government’s increasing attempts to take away our freedoms and constitutional rights with legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), police brutality, lack of a livable minimum wage. The list is long, but the sooner people wake up, the sooner we will begin to solve these problems.”

So far, Colman has made 43 portraits.

“I plan on having 99 people by year’s end,” he says.

Chris Hedges: “The Authorization to Use Military Force Act, the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendment Act, you know it’s just one piece of legislation after another to strip Americans of their most cherished constitutional rights. I mean even the Obama Administration has not found it within itself to restore habeas corpus. All of this was put in place by Bush, but it was codified by the Democrats. In some ways Obama is worse because he’s used the Espionage Act now six times to go after whistle blowers and leakers.”

“A united educated public is the biggest threat to those that seek to exploit us for power and profit. We are learning and evolving. Where Occupy is headed is up to those who take a stand and get involved. We can take care of each other and work together to improve our quality of life.”

“My first civics lesson came at five years old: I couldn’t watch any cartoons – the Watergate Hearings were on every channel.”

“We the people of Cascadia are learning – some slowly, some quickly – what it takes to live in harmony with the land; the principles of permaculture permeate. The blue, white and green stripes and symbolic doug fir of our flag acknowledge what is true wealth. Clean water, clean air, healthy ecosystems – that is what makes healthy, loving people. We say enough with greed, corruption, and exploitation.”

“Label us socialist, communist, trouble-makers, even Al Qaeda, just rest assured that we, The 99-percenters, will go away only when you, The Monopoly Capitalists, become content with being only millionaires instead of multimillionaires and when you allow some viable form of Democratic Socialism to become America’s form of government.”

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