What better way to celebrate the new decade than seeing our city through the eyes of our readers?
We asked them to send us photos of their own private takes on Portland. Not the coolest angle on Big Pink but the parts of Portland that rarely make the cover of a newspaper.
Our panel of judges, made up of former WW photographers and art directors, selected the winners, including our student winner, a senior at Milwaukie High School.
Judges' Favorite: Corbin C
Photographer's description: Taken with a disposable camera March 3, 2019, at the Fraternal Order of Eagles East Portland Aerie & Auxiliary 3256. Photo includes Briley, Shana, Sam and Kirra.
Judges' comments: This photo felt very Portland, or at least what we think of as Portland. Full of these sort of hidden little crazy worlds.
Photographer's description: Summer, Northwest Irving Street: They love their uncle.
Judges' comments: Liked how the photographer was able to simplify the image. The van became the background, the black-and-white, too. It has a lovely innocence and creepy quality at the same time. This photo shows the subjective nature of photography and what's so great about it.
Photographer's description: The mostly deserted Southeast Industrial District
on a Sunday afternoon is a reliably moody and peculiar place where the invisible holds sway.
Judges' comments: The perfect urban landscape. Everything is in its own lane: the composition, the framing, the color palette. And it speaks to what's going on in Portland with lots of car break-ins.
Photographer's description: Pedestrian under Interstate 405, Northwest Lovejoy and 16th Avenue.
Judges' comments: The timing and placement of the person walking with the lines and scale made this really work.
Photographer's description: I cross the Broadway Bridge every day riding my bike to go to work. Winter or summer, rain or sun. The light, the energy, the Willamette surrounded by other bridges make this red steel bridge one of my favorite places in Portland, Oregon.
Judges' comments: Like the movement, intrigue with the blurriness, and the very Portland landscape. It is everyone but not one person. Interesting lines, framed nicely. Mysterious but not mysterious. More of a feeling photo.
Photographer's description: This is breastfeeding at 33 months. Many mothers feel like they need to hide the practice of breastfeeding older children. As a woman, I feel like I'm constantly apologizing for myself, my feelings, my choices as a mother. It's time to stop apologizing and work together to normalize different ways of parenting and caring for our children.
Judges' comments: The light on the daughter's face, her unflinching gaze, the girl is almost staring us down. The two touches are also nice. Mom's hand is framing the girl, and the girl's hand touching the breast, circles the image nicely.
Photographer's description: An example of how blatantly Portland is becoming
Judges' comments: This photo spoke to consumerism, but it also captured a moment in time. Showing this cop as a person, window shopping. The reflection of the Apple logo on his back is a nice element.
Photographer's description: A rainy day on 82nd Avenue, Sept. 9, 2019.
Judges' comments: Nine sets of lines and so typically Portland. This photo speaks to the comic in the everyday. Even the couch on the angle adds to the comic value. Nice neutral color palette. Speaks to the city of people without people in the image.
Student Winner: Kristen Wesson, senior at Milwaukie High School
Photographer's description: Protest sign on the Hawthorne Bridge during the Portland climate strike Sept. 20, 2019.
Judges' comments: Photography is hard. It requires you to interact with subjects. The most important thing is to put yourself out there. We really like how this photographer did that.
As the student winner of our photo contest, Kristen wesson receives a free class at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Congratulations, Kristen, and thank you to PNCA for your ongoing support of the student and artist community.
Behind the Scenes
The judges for this year's photo contest all once played a major role in what you see in the pages of Willamette Week. They are photographers and art directors, the people who shoot the images that draw you in, and those who decide which photos make it into the paper.
They shared their favorite assignments for WW.
WW Art Director: 2004-09
Currently Associate Creative Director at Engin Creative
Too many to count, for sure. One that stands out, however, was about a promising young pianist who just happened to live right around the corner from me ("Untapped Waters," WW, Sept. 21, 2005). I remember standing in his home, watching the genius of this quiet but confident teenager and thinking: "This job, which not only gives me a front-row seat to some of the biggest political and cultural events in our city, is also going to introduce me to my very own neighbor?! How amazing, and what a privilege to share space and time and stories with so many people."
WW Photographer: 2017-present
My favorite [WW project] was documenting the Aug. 4 riots in downtown Portland. Between Patriot Prayer and Antifa counterprotesters. It was interesting being able to observe and photograph both sides so intimately. I got hit with rocks, tear-gassed and chased by police, but it was the most exhilarating, crazy experience I've had with WW.
WW Photographer: 1994-97
Currently freelance photographer
Working with Chris Lydgate on "Imagine You're a Paranoid Schizophrenic. Now Imagine You're His Father," WW, Aug. 2, 1995.
WW Photographer: 2005-10
Currently freelance photographer
A cover story about strippers in Portland called "Naked Ambition," WW, June 6, 2007.
WW Intern to Art Director: 1997-2004
Currently Design Director at SagaCity Media
There were so many! From running all over the city taking photos for a holiday gift guide (as an intern) with what was probably a first-generation digital camera, to art directing Darcelle and his partner in a fashion shoot, to waking up the morning of 9/11, after having put the issue to bed the night before (the cover of which was about chemtrails and had a plane on it), and working frantically with our incredible staff to cover the day's news and put out an entirely new issue in less than 24 hours.
After the judging was over, Anne Reeser asked the photographers how often art directors choose a photo they don't like. Charles Gullung: "Every time. I don't even look anymore."