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bryan wolf-M9-eclipse watchers copy
Bryan Wolf, “Eclipse watchers” (Grid M9).

On Saturday, my article The Grid Project: A Photo-Survey of Portland was published in The Oregonian. It was my first ever piece for The Oregonian, a paper which was founded in 1850 and predates official Oregon statehood which came about in 1859.

I wrote: “In 1995, Christopher Rauschenberg assembled a team of a dozen photography enthusiasts. Together, they sliced up a AAA map of Portland into square mile segments and resolved to hit the streets of each corresponding square and photograph, once a month, until no more squares remained. By 2004, they had documented all 89 squares within the city limits. At that time, the only thing to do was to start over. In September of this year, the Grid Project will complete its second full photo-survey of the Rose City.”

I wrote the article because The Grid Project is raising Kickstarter cash to replace its old, limited-function website with a new-spangly site with full on search, more images and happy-wide-eyed-users. With four days to go, just over $600 more is needed, so it looks like it’s going to make it.

When I arrived in Portland 18 months ago, folks at the Grid Project were some of the first I wanted to meet. Even though I don’t shoot photographs they let me join them for a meeting and look over images. Many of the Gridders are now friends.

The Grid Project is amazing. Here’s why:

1. It’s all about community.

2. It’s done for the love of photography; no one’s getting paid.

3 It’s a simple premise, but collectively 20 or so photographers have documented a changing Portland over nearly two decades. The estimated 40,000 images they’ve made is an incredible resource.

4. The Portland Grid Project invented the formula. The methodology has since been repeated around the globe in towns and cities such as Bradford, England; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, WA; Victoria, BC; Rome, Italy; Providence, RI; Eugene, OR; Central Oregon; Napa Valley, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Forest Grove OR and Santa Fe, NM.

If you fancy a fancy print you should throw some money in the pot. Here’s some fine Grid Project images to stroke your eyeballs

Ann Kendellen, Pendleton Park, SW 53rd and Iowa, January 2011 (Grid N6) copy
Ann Kendellen, Pendleton Park, SW 53rd and Iowa, January 2011 (Grid N6).
BlakeAndrews, 2007, (Grid J12) copy
BlakeAndrews, 2007, (Grid J12).
Bruce Hall, Kid on the Sandy Blvd overpass for the 205 freeway, (Grid J12) copy
Bruce Hall, Kid on the Sandy Blvd overpass for the 205 freeway, (Grid J12).
CaroleGlauber FrankiesFranks copy
Carole Glauber. “Frankie’s Franks” SE 82nd, 2011.
ChristopherRaushenbergL9 copy
Christopher Rauschenberg, SE 15th Avenue, 2008 (Grid L9).
David Potter. %22Inside of Marci MacFarlane's car%22 North Interstate Avenue and Going Street, May 29th, 2005 (Grid J8) copy
David Potter. “Inside of Marci MacFarlane’s car” North Interstate Avenue and Going Street, May 29th, 2005 (Grid J8).
Lisa Gidley. NE 42nd Avenue near Sumner Street, September 2011 copy
Lisa Gidley. NE 42nd Avenue near Sumner Street, September 2011.
Nancy Butler (Grid N9) copy
Nancy Butler, “Untitled” (Grid N9).

Bruce Hall, Off of NE Fremont, (Grid K11) copy

Bruce Hall, Off NE Fremont, (Grid K11).
Mark Barnes Jessie
Mark Barnes, “Jessie”
Mark Barnes Foster Rd copy
Mark Barnes, “Foster Rd”
Rich Rollins
Rich Rollins
Lisa Gidley
Lisa Gidley
Ann Kendellen
Ann Kendellen
Ann Kendellen
Ann Kendellen
Faulkner Short
Faulkner Short
Barbara Gilson
Barbara Gilson
Alexis Pike
Alexis Pike
Patrick Stearns
Patrick Stearns (one image in a set of three) (Grid K8, 04/99).
David Potter
David Potter, (M14, August 2000).
George Kelly
George Kelly
Patrick Stearns
Patrick Stearns (one image in a set of three) (Grid G4, 04/00)
Faulkner Short
Faulkner Short

Eye On PDX is an ongoing series of profiles of photographers based in Portland, Oregon. See past Eye On PDX profiles here and here.

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.


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

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