Sifting Through the Drift

street photography portrait portland oregon
Portland, OR. March, 2016.

Thousands of images saved, going back years. Rather than go on another camera spree, it’s time to look back with fresh eyes and give “old” images a renewal.

Prints, eBooks, giving a photo its due here, or nothing at all. I’m going to spend my near term viewing and thinking on what I’ve done, before doing a lot more.

Small Town Mayor. Big Integrity.

portrait of forest grove oregon mayor pete truax
Forest Grove, Oregon Mayor Pete Truax. 2015 MLK Jr Day March. Forest Grove, OR.

It would be nice if more small town city councils had guts now. Mayor Pete Truax of Forest Grove, OR does. Unfortunately others on his city council do not, in regards to sanctuary cities and immigration.

Forest Grove, OR is 25% Latino. It also has a small university. On MLK Jr Day in 2015, I photographed a march in Forest Grove done in the spirit of Dr. King’s march on Washington D.C. in 1963.

Unfortunately, for a majority on Forest Grove’s city council, all of that is worth ignoring now.

Working Man

Portland Oregon black and white film street photography by Paul Ottaviano
Andrew, assistant for Baseline Surveying. Nikon FE2, TriX 400 Film. Portland, OR.

 

Andrew came across as one really good person. We met shortly before I snapped this street portrait of him, working as a surveyor assistant in NW Portland.

He found my old Nikon FE2 camera fascinating. I was delighted by his surveying equipment. There are many different photographies, a lot of ways to use light to make a picture. So, in a way, we were two comrades in photography outside working for the day.

Andrew is new in town. He moved to PDX from Austin, TX. He likes it a lot better here. The pace suits him and he thinks people are friendlier. Interestingly, he had no problem finding a job.

“There are A LOT of jobs here (in comparison to Austin),” said Andrew. “The south is just getting too damn hard to find work.”

Contextually, his statement was a curiosity to me. We hear a lot about how Oregon is allegedly a bad place for business and jobs.

In PDX, so many people relocate here for either a tech job in the Silicon Forest or to pursue something creative. The pickings for the creatives is often slim. Portland is a tough job market, in some respects, particularly for professional endeavors. Like most everywhere, we do have an underemployment and homeless problem.

Gentrification is also an issue in Portland. Andrew surveying – presumably for an architecture firm – in NW Portland, a place he unlikely can afford to live in, was irony not lost on me.

But, Andrew is right. There are jobs around, if a person is willing to work a trade. It might not pay the most or lead to a swanky downtown apartment. But, for something like surveying, it’s an honest living and for Andrew this is more than okay. I was reminded of honor in labor. It was refreshing to meet someone like him.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Precious

photo of Precious the cat

When Precious arrived at the Oregon Humane Society, she was known as Monkey. Her current owners had kept her in the garage full time, never groomed her, and had a healthy disdain for her. Her beautiful hair had become so matted that it had to be shaved off entirely, and the description by the owners listed a slew of negative adjectives.

But like all animals – people and cats alike – companionship and environment matter. Precious needed a home that fit her; she needed an owner that met her strong personality with love and understanding. And she found just that five minutes after being placed out on the floor, so-to-speak, when Micki Naito immediately asked to see her. They’ve been happy roommates ever since.

Precious the cat now
Remind you of a comic strip character? Too cute.

Precious does not like to be touched, but other than that, she is very personable and curious. Most cats don’t take kindly to orders, so I just tried to make her comfortable with me and my camera. For example, I sat on the couch and let her come to me. Micki’s house has huge windows, bathing the room in natural light, so I thought it best to use that for Precious’ portraits.

The two photos you see of her were shot at f/1.8. This was for shallow depth-of-field and to use Micki’s couch as an easy backdrop. My goal was to focus on Precious’ incredible eyes and hopefully to have catch lights reflecting in them. Shooting at this aperture gave me the opportunity to use fast shutter speeds with just window light and a silver reflector.

How did Precious hold still for the camera? Well, she really didn’t. I used my auto-focus beep to get her attention and have her look towards the light. At that moment I was ready to press the shutter button. As you know, cats are unlike dogs and don’t respond to calls, so if the auto-focus beep worked then I went with it. Flexibility in your approach is important with pets, and for cats in particular.

I had a wonderful time with Micki and Precious and their story is, from what I experience, very typical when good people adopt animals. Pets are great to have and if you’re a photographer please consider volunteering your photo skills for a local animal shelter.