32 – PDX Photography Tips

These interviews were conducted for and published on Frugal Portland in 2017.

We all want that fabulous Instagram photo. The snap that speaks volumes about our good taste and creative sensibility. Two of Portland’s most photogenic facets are the landscape and its diverse food scene. Because picture perfection requires more than luck, we asked two local photographers how to capture the best of Portland outdoors and dining.

Jess Selig: Landscape

Photo: Jess Selig

Web: www.jesspdx.com IG: jess_pdx

FP: What’s your favorite thing about shooting landscapes? 

JS: Taking landscape photos helps me to slow down and really see what’s in front of me. Sometimes I sit for quite a while pondering the landscape in front of me before I shoot. It’s a very meditative exercise.

FP: What is the best time of day or setting? 

JS: I like low light, so mornings and evenings are best for me. If it’s cloudy, and especially if it’s foggy, I go into the forests. I love a good foggy forest so you’ll see a lot of those scenes in my work.

FP: What makes a great landscape photograph?

JS: Shoot what is pleasing to you, even if it doesn’t follow certain “rules”. Your own artistic touch or edit is what will set your photo apart. Be curious, not rigid, and most importantly, have fun.

FP: What’s one app or filter everyone should try?

JS: Snapseed is by far the one I use the most. 

FP: What’s the secret to getting that perfect Instagram-blowing-up shot?

Taking photos of what you love, engaging with other accounts by leaving likes and meaningful comments, and engaging with your followers helps keep people interested. If you do what you love, you will get recognized for your work and opportunities will follow.

FP: What’s an iconic Portland scene or location you love to shoot?

JS: The Wildwood Trail in Forest Park any time it’s foggy. Get me up there in October during a heavy fog, when the autumn colors are peaking, and I’m in heaven!

Top tip: When shooting landscapes always take in the view from several angles and never forget extra batteries!

Aubre LeGault: Food

Photo: Audrie LeGault

Web: www.aubrielegaultphotography.com & www.portlandoregonfoodphotographer.com 
IG: @aubrie.legault

FP: What’s your favorite thing about shooting food? 

AL: Food is a lot of fun to photograph because it’s full of different colors and textures and you have complete control over your composition. The subject always sits still and does as it’s told. Well, usually. Ice cream tends to melt even though I tell it not to.  

FP: What’s the best time of day or setting? 

AL: Beautiful soft light is best for food so think “side light” or “diffused light.” If you’re outside this means sunrise or sunset time. Those two times of the day will have nice side light with a softer warmer glow. If you’re inside, shoot your food by a window. 

FP: What makes a great food photograph?

AL: It makes the viewer want to eat that dish right then and there. The goal is to make them salivate. A great image has interesting light, strong composition and accurate color. Filters and funky presets are fun but I don’t think they add to food images. 

FP: What’s one app or filter everyone should try?

AL: Snapseed is my go to app for quick editing.  

FP: What’s the secret to getting that perfect Instagram-blowing-up shot?

AL: I wish I knew! I have an image of some waffles that’s decent but nothing spectacular and it has the most “likes”. My guess is people really like waffles! So if it’s a cherished item, like pizza, and a cool image you’ll probably receive a lot of love.

FP: What’s an iconic Portland food, dish or restaurant you love to shoot?

AL: I have to give a shout out to one of my clients, Quaintrelle. Camille is the head bartender. Her cocktails are amazing and a lot of fun to photograph. Their food is wonderful too.

Top tip: When shooting food always choose the perfect angle and never post a photo that is out of focus. 

Sarah Willey: Family & friends

Photo: Sarah Willey

Web: www.sarahlynnphotographypdx.com 

FP: What’s your favorite thing about shooting families & friends?

SW: Getting to know them. It’s awesome to interact with new people and ask them questions. You get a little piece of everybody’s story.

FP: What is the best time of day or setting? 

SW: Fall. I love all of the colors. If you are going to shoot around, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening, the softer light is more forgiving.

FP: What makes a great group photograph?

SW: Real emotion. I love candid moments such as people laughing, running around, and being goofy together. 

FP: What’s one app or filter everyone should try?

The best app on the market right now is either VSCO or Facetune.

FP: What’s the secret to getting everyone to face the same way?

Tell funny jokes. I love being weird at shoots to get smiles out of everybody. My jokes are so dumb they usually make people laugh.

FP: What’s an iconic Portland scene or location you love to shoot?

The Pearl District. The little urban area on 23rd always makes for awesome photos. 

Top tip: Always be patient and never have a bad attitude! Go to the shoot with positive vibes.

Moving Words (Rock’n’Roll Shoes)

I moved house this week. For the third time in four months.

“Do you always move that much?”

“Actually,” I confessed. “Three months is a pretty long stint in one place for me.”

This is true. There was the year I moved every eight weeks. The long-haul year spent shuttling between America, Ibiza, London and Myanmar.

There were non-moving years: Glasgow 2010; London 2012. Periods of compression. On release, I tumbled from place to place in a blur of kinetic energy.

Always a spur: Don’t get stuck. Don’t miss out. Don’t settle (for less).

On at least three occasions I left a city with only a suitcase, giving or throwing away everything in excess of 20kg. “It is desirable that a man… live in all respects so compactly and preparedly that, if an enemy take the town he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety,” writes Henry David Thoreau. I came close.

This week, boxes and suitcases went into my car and were joined by my cat. Unprecedented adult privilege and responsibility. Undreamt gratitude. The sun was hot and bright as I ferried boxes. White blossoms lingered amidst the almond trees’ fresh green leaves. When I took a break at the cafe, the owner sat and chatted then wouldn’t let me pay for my tea. The neighbouring farmer lent me fruit-crates to pack my books.

Vague anxiety shrouded me like fog. It always does when I move. This time literal and figurative sunshine burnt it off. The irresistible smile of someone who’s a reason to stay. Unpacking clothes instead of piling them in the donation bin of a charity shop. Restoring my books to their shelves. Running the familiar road to San Carlos.

I wouldn’t miss a single move. Every bounce taught me something (the hard falls in particular). To stay is a new education. I am choosing something now, to paraphrase Adrienne Rich, choosing to live with all my intelligence.

How the Art of Reasoning is Necessary

This is from the ‘Discourses’ of Epictetus — the best guide to life I’ve ever read (over and over and over).
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HOW THE ART OF REASONING IS NECESSARY

When one of his audience said, ‘Convince me that logic is useful,’ Epictetus said,

Would you have me demonstrate it?

‘Yes.’

Well, then, must I not use a demonstrative argument?

And, when the other agreed, he said, How then shall you know if I impose upon you? And when the man had no answer, he said, You see how you yourself admit that logic is necessary, if without it you are not even able to learn this much — whether it is necessary or not.

Right?