I’ve been chronicling street style in Portland for over three years and when I started doing it, I was shocked that no one else had yet. When I first heard that Laura Ker, owner of Find (one of my favorite shops in Portland), was starting a street style tumblr, I was thrilled. There’s definitely enough style in this city that requires more than just me trolling the streets. We’ve even bumped into each other street style spotting around town – which always gives me a chuckle. I wonder if the Sartorialist runs into that problem? Laura and I decided to have a chat about what it’s like to be Portland’s street style photographers. Here’s everything you’ve always wanted to know about what goes on “behind the scenes”.
LS: What made you decide to start taking photos of Portlanders on the street?
LK: Even before I moved to Portland (from Rockland) I was really impressed with Portlanders’ styles: confident, creative and skilled. I had been wanting to incorporate street style photography into what I do at Find right from the beginning. It just took a while to figure out how.
LS: Do you think ownest one of Portlands coolest boutiques gives you great insight into how people in town dress?
LK: Aww, thanks Laura! Yes, for sure running Find gives me access to a lot of Portland’s most stylish people. I’m really lucky in that a lot of my subjects come right to me!
LS: Do you find it hard to go up to random people and ask to take their photo?
LK: For the first week or so of doing Maine Streets, it was nerve-wracking, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Most people are so happy and flattered to be photographed that it’s a lot of fun.
It’s true. Though sometimes I can see someone from far away at this point and have a gut reaction that will tell me – ya know, they are NOT going to want their photo taken. I’m actually shocked how rarely we photograph the same people! I’ve only noticed it happen on a rare occasion (like Oscar photographed here
). Do you ever have people that don’t want your photo taken? Or that act freaked out?
LK: Occasionally people decline to have their picture taken, but it’s not too often. No one has freaked out yet!
LS: Yes. I think in my 3 years only 5 people tops have declined a photo op. Though I once had some Italian tourists point at me and shout, “Paparazzo!”
LS: Is there a particular person you’ve photographed that you tend to see all the time now? I feel like that always happens to me!
Hmm, it’s hard to say. Most people I already recognize from working at Find.
photo by Laura Ker / Maine Streets
LS: Do you also suffer from driving past people that you want to photograph all the time? Why does that always happen!
LK: Oh my gosh, always! It drives me nuts! Ha ha. Another thing that happens is I’ll be working at Find, and someone with a great outfit comes in but I’ll be too busy with my work to photograph them. Maddening!
LS: How do people generally react to you when you take their photo? Do they want to chat or do they tend to run off?
LK: People are usually really happy to be photographed. But I’m the one who runs off! When I’m out shooting, it’s usually on a quick coffee break from work. I just give them my card and go make the post.
LS: Since I tend to try and conduct an interview, I’m always afraid I’m holding people up. But I’ve actually made some really good friends from just meeting them in the street, taking their photos and then continuing to run into them. It’s pretty cool! What are your favorite blogs to read?