PDX Squared / by Ben Blair

Have a plan, and other lessons from PDX Squared


When I first moved to Portland and started to immerse myself within the photography community here, there was one event that caught my eye as something in which I'd like to participate. Unfortunately, the first two years I lived here I worked for a company that always had an event the same weekend, and I could never participate, and the next couple of years I just happened to also have my own shoots going on. However, this year, when the registration opened up, I blocked off the weekend and committed to it. 

One of the things I love about this event, is that it brings together so many talented photographers, including several legends in the Portland photography community. I always get so inspired, not to mention flush with new ideas. 

Thanks to some great gear loaned from Pro Photo Supply (go here if you need anything photo related in Portland) and Sony, among many other companies, I got to play with some new toys and overall had a blast. 

72 Photographers, 72 Randomly assigned locations,
24 Hours of shooting time, 4 Geographical areas, 3 Hours of editing, 1 Catered dinner, 4 Judges, 7 Categories, 6 Craft categories, 1 Gallery Show Exhibit
— www.pdxsquared.com

Here's how it works. 

All registered photographers (about 70 in total), show up at the PDX Squared event space the afternoon of the first day.

You sign in and are randomly assigned a "square" of Portland. From there, the photographers can check out gear on loan from several camera companies if they want, or just start shooting. 

Then you have essentially the next 24 hours to do whatever you want. Some photographers have very planned out shoots with models and props, others just go scout their locations. Some just wing it. 

For me, even though I tried to not have anything else going on, I ended up having a photo booth event the same day. So despite wanting to get an early start, I wasn't able to start shooting until after 8:30 p.m. Luckily a couple of friends were on standby and we got the shoot going. 

Here are my official submissions to the competition.

1. Series: "Neat" - shots taken at the bar NEAT on Hawthorne. 

2. Real Portrait: A professional hockey player in a night time portrait.

3. Creative Storytelling: A woman sits on the bleachers at night with foggy glasses. 

4. Portlandia: "Celtics Fans" - a group of fans supporting the CELTICS F.C. outside of the 4-2-2 bar.