Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Portland Graffiti Task Force Rules!

I was out watering my garden last night and heard some commotion coming from down the street by the railroad bridge down the street. Since things happen there all the time I figured I'd go check it out and see what was going on. I walked down the street in time to see two undercover police cars pulled up and officers putting two teenage boys in handcuffs. I looked over and saw fresh and really crappy tagging covering the entire side of the metal building by the tracks that has been hit pretty bad lately. They were busting the kids whose crew the task force had been tracking around the area. They happened to get a tip from one of my neighbors and were able to catch these 14 year olds in the act.

The officers were very professional, and handled the situation really well. I saw the guy pictured above talking to one of the kids, and heard him explain how stupid this was for them to do, and they were going to be punished. He never raised his voice or yelled, but he definitely was getting his point across.

After they got the kids in the cars I asked Officer Matt some questions about the taggers. He said they were tracking quite a few crews and were using tips to bust these guys who ranged in age from 12 to 30. They were keeping busy this summer and trying to get the word out that they were going to be punished for what they were doing. Officer Matt was really cool, and even gave me his number in case I had more questions or noticed other tagging going up. I guess they keep records of the various tags, and can tell which ones are gang related, which is kind of scary. There's definitely a difference between some of the really good graffiti that I've seen over by the train tracks, and the stupid taggers who are basically just pissing on people's walls. They usually tag over the good stuff, which sucks.

It was nice to know that there are some really good police out there and that they are trying to crack down on the growing problem, which seems to be hitting SE pretty bad.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SCRAP Iron Artist Competition

Saturday I went to the SCRAP Iron Artist competition over in North Portland. I had planned on going to the Adult Soapbox Derby up on Mt. Tabor beforehand, but realized I would have to hoof it to the top of the hill in four inch heels to get the pictures I wanted. I decided to skip that and headed over to the SCRAP event directly. It had just started when I got there, so there was plenty of time to hang out and have a beer before taking photos. The teams really did a great job of getting into the competition with loads of costumes, heckling, and a sense of humor regarding the whole thing. They had tents set up, and bleachers out in the sun for those who were being spectators. The only sucky thing was the beer garden was stuck behind the bleachers, so it was hard to see what was going on if you wanted to have a beer. I loved the Tchotke girls walking around with cigarette girl type carriers selling handmade odds and ends of stuff. I bought a decopaged Altoids container with a plastic baby and lace inside, and a couple of buttons.
I spent most of the time wandering around and checking out what people were up to. I don't know how crowded the event has been in the past, but this year they had a really good turnout. I'm sure it helped that the weather was super nice and not too hot. After the competition, and I couldn't hear who the winning team was, there was a drum corps playing out in the street. They were awesome. I always get goosebumps. People were out dancing in the street and having a blast. Overall it was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many people get excited about the event. I think I might need to join a team next year. I think it would be a blast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Getting The Right Picture

I'm fairly new to photography, having waited until digital cameras became affordable before even trying it. I'm very ADD, so I want instant gratification when I take a photo. I also want to have the option of eliminating the bad shots instead of paying for the development of a roll of film and finding out I got one decent shot out of the bunch, which is usually the case.

I'm always trying to find opportunities that will provide good subjects. One of my favorite things about Portland is that there is always something interesting to photograph. I like to take "walkabouts" at various times of the year and bring my camera with me in case I run across something interesting.

The picture above isn't mine but it's been a huge influence on my subject matter. It completely captures the essence of who these people were at one point in their lives. I have no idea where I found this, it was years ago, so my apologies to whoever posted the original image.

This picture I did take, and it really captures his personality. My friend G works graveyard shift on the weekends, so afterwork drinks are usually around 8:30am if I meet up with him. We were at Holmans, and sat next to this guy who's name was Dustin. He was a little loaded but really interesting and fun to talk to. Holmans is one of those places where if you hit it right you can meet some interesting people who aren't the posers that show up after 12:00pm and take over the place.

If you've been there you know exactly what I mean.

One thing I like about photography as a medium is you are always going to get better at it. You don't have a small window of opportunity to excel and then you're past your prime. I also like the fact that you're recording pieces of your life. It's cool to look at photos and be able to say, "that's right I was there." My brain gets so overloaded at times that it seems like pieces of it are being written over and potentially lost at some point, so it's nice to have visual post-its I can pull up when I feel like it.

I started posting stuff to my Flickr sight a while back. Part of it was to have an easy place for people to access what I've done. The other probably more selfish reason is to see what people are interested in. This picture has had the most hits of any of the others. I don't know if it's because of the subject, or if it's a good picture. I would tend to think it's the subject. The party I went to had a lot of people in costumes, and I took a ton of pictures, but most of them came out blurry. I think it was a combination of too many cocktails and four inch heels on grass that probably hindered my ability to get a decent shot, but I'm glad I managed to get this one right.