Michael of Street Roots

street photography and portraits Portland Oregon
Michael, Street Roots newspaper vendor. Portland, Oregon. Photo by Paul Ottaviano. All rights reserved.

Street Roots is local newspaper in Portland, Oregon advocating for community interests. In particular, they’re a strong voice for homeless people and families.

From their website:

“Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change.”

Homeless people can work as street vendors. Each paper is $1. It’s more than a bargain, in my opinion, because I think it’s one of the best newspapers around here. I wouldn’t mind paying more for it.

During my March 29, 2016 photo walk around Downtown Portland I met Michael S., a Street Roots vendor. I bought a paper from him and he was kind enough to let me shoot his portrait. It’s photography such as this that I’m most proud of.

 

 

 

 

Rocky RAW

portrait by paul ottaviano

In this corner we have a super mini-mini-flyweight from Hillsboro, Oregon. He is the dance and prance bruiser, the tiger unleashed, and the next champion of the world!

Actually, he is one of the nicest five year old boys you would ever meet and was a rock star in front of the camera. Mr. Luke, as I call him, likes soccer and football best but was open minded enough to try on my boxing gloves. Mr. Luke is not a boxer, but he really didn’t need any direction from me. Once the gloves were on, he went right into his Rocky and Apollo Creed routine. Once the gloves came off, he posed with stuffed animals and his baby sister. Mr. Luke, for lack of a better word, was awesome.

Pretzels

pretzel merchant photo Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Beatrice Benedick.

Paul took many wonderful shots at the Oregon Renaissance Fair, as you may have seen on this blog this past week. Many of them exemplified his talent for using 55mm focal length to make colors vibrant and pop off the photo as if taken on Kodachrome. Those images are rich and immersive.

But my favorite image of the set doesn’t have that trademark color. The light is actually a bit hard, making the blues more elemental and muted. But if the blues of the photo had been very strong, they would have dominated the photo in great contrast with the almost severe look on his face. (And that face has so much subtext and complexity.) Unlike a fairy princess or the queen, neither his character nor his outfit is made to garner attention, and the color of the photo truthfully reflects that.

I think the framing is also critical here. Too close and the picture becomes too on-the-nose, like a dour portrait with overwrought emotion. Too far and the surrounding fair (and its patrons) could take the focus away from him, or, worse, make his emotion seem melodramatic or silly. Instead, just enough of him is exposed to honestly reveal a working man on the job.