My Photo Blog & Themes
This page complements my About page on Flickr.
WalksInPortland | PNWPhotoWalks 2010-2024
In 2010, I decided to leave my job in downtown Portland and switch to a contract position at a workplace closer to our house. In my contract position, I was able to take extended leave and spend time in Alaska with my mom and sisters. I'll always treasure the 10 months I lived with my mom before she became ill.
My job move also prompted me to stop commuting by bicycle and begin commuting year-round on foot, which I did for three years. I recognized this was (is) a privilege. My round-trip walk was 5–7 miles. It would vary depending on the routes I took.
As I began to see unique scenes and changes along my routes, I decided to start photoblogging my work walks. This helped me practice and improve my photography skills, albeit with camera phones for a few years.
In 2012, when my weekday work walks led to longer weekend walks, I started photoblogging those walks as well. I've continued this practice to this day. In the Portland metro region, I've explored Portland proper, Gresham, Sellwood, Milwaukie, Tigard, Beaverton, St Johns, Hillsboro, and Vancouver.
When I don't do a loop walk (from and back to my house), I take public transit. Since 2010, I've taken public transit on all but seven of my walks in the Portland metro region. Sometimes I take a TriMet bus or a MAX light rail train to the end of the line and walk home. Under Active & Public Transportation Themes below, I mention why public transit has been one of my favorite photography themes.
Based on my very rough math, I estimate I completed 900+ long (5+ mile) walks from 11/2010 to 12/2023. I've never had the ambition to walk every street in the Portland metro region or stick pins on a map, although I don't fault those who do so.
My long walks in the Portland metro region are frequently rambles without a destination. I like to wander when I explore. In addition to maintaining my physical fitness, I've also found my walks and hikes to be therapeutic. That was especially helpful for me when my mom was ill.
Selected photos from each of my 2019 to 2024 walks on Flickr are in individual albums [photos].
On this site, I have individual albums for my walks from 2017 to 2024. From 2016 to early 2015, I've combined my photos into monthly albums. From 2010 to early 2015, I've combined my photos into albums that span months.
The structure of the albums on my site enable you to take “virtual” walks. Mapping services today also let you take virtual walks, but I don't track your steps or sell your data…
On average, I post ~10% of my walks photos on Flickr and much larger percentages on my site.
I don't geotag my photowalks for privacy purposes, so look for the photos of signs and signposts I took along the way.
Photography Genres & Themes
I haven't specialized in a particular photography genre, but I'd like to learn about a few in-depth. Nature, macro, B&W, abstract, and still life photography are all intriguing to me. I’ve been a point-and-shoot amateur for many years, so I’ll need to re-learn some photography basics for any genre I decide to tackle. I might need to purchase new camera gear as well…
Since 2010, I’ve favored the themes that follow. On Flickr, I have dedicated albums for specific subjects, e.g., travel, quirky (Portlandia), murals, signs, buildings, bridges, Portland metro districts, active and public transportation, and so forth.
Given most of my walks are in the Portland metro region, I like to capture sights that are unique to my hometown of 39 years. These include scenes that show us having fun, being creative, being quirky (weird), being mindful of our natural environment, and demonstrating kindness and compassion. With a few exceptions, I don’t focus on Portland’s negatives.
Architecture & Urban Planning Themes
I like fine architecture and design patterns. In high school, my drafting classes were among my favorites. On weekends, I'd read Architectural Record and Architectural Digest at our branch library. I sometimes regret not following my dream of becoming an architect. The closest I came in my career in IT was working as an enterprise technology architect and a corporate data architect.
I also like urban planning principles, programs and projects, in part because there are strong parallels to IT enterprise architecture. Since Portland has a strong tradition in urban planning, you'll find many examples of completed projects among my photos that pertain to transportation, housing, sustainability, land use planning, and so forth. If you're interested, you can read my 2020 public testimony in support of Portland's Residential Infill Project (RIP). Be advised, it's lengthy and includes some word salad.
When I first moved to Portland from Anchorage in 1980, I was impressed with the completed urban infrastructure projects that I saw when I worked downtown. The Portland Transit Mall, which opened in 1977, is one example. The Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, which opened in 2001, is another example. Unfortunately, the City of Portland has not properly maintained the esplanade since 2020 [photos].
Over the past few years, I think Portland has been lagging behind other metro regions in bold new urban infrastructure projects. To me, it seems our regional leaders no longer have the vision or ambition to tackle big projects. I think analysis-paralysis and death-by-committee have also become factors, not only in Portland, but in other (progressive) west coast cities.
Ezra Klein addressed this in the following podcasts and articles:
July 23, 2021: Ezra Klein Interviews Jerusalem Demsas
May 29, 2022: What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds
June 12, 2022: There Has to Be a Better Way to Run the Government
February 8, 2023: How Liberals — Yes, Liberals — Are Hobbling Government
Noah Smith also addressed this in the following article:
April 6, 2023: Industrial Policy Doesn't have to succeed right away. Progressive approaches need to fail before they can change.
An architect, city planner, and urban designer who I respect is Jeff Speck. I recommend his books and articles. I purchased my copy of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, after I attended a presentation by Jeff at Powell's Books in Portland in 2012.
Active & Public Transportation Themes
As my narrative on bicycling, hiking, climbing, and walking suggests, I’ve always had an interest in active (human-powered) transportation. My interest in getting around on foot started in high school, when I competed as a cross-country runner and a cross-country skier. I was never very fast, but I always finished.
Public transportation is another theme I like. In the early 80s, mid 90s, and later from 2015 to 2020, I commuted by bus to my different workplaces. I enjoyed getting to know some other regular riders on my bus lines. My wife and I rode line 70 together [photo] when we were working. Now, we can now get front-row seats as TriMet Honored Citizens.
Advocacy and Volunteer Activities
In addition to volunteer work at my children's schools, my interest in active transportation led me to help the following local organizations over the years. When I was commuting by bicycle, I supported the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now The Street Trust). When I was commuting on foot, I did volunteer work for the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association [photos], the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (now Oregon Walks), and the City of Portland (The Ten-Toe Express, Sunday Parkways), [photos]. In 2019, I helped AARP Oregon with its Community Neighbor Walks program as an in-kind volunteer photographer [photos]. In 2021, I began helping SOLVE [photos] and in 2022 I helped Go Lloyd (formerly Lloyd TMA) [photos] again as a volunteer on their Mobility Committee. In 2024, I plan to step back from my volunteer activities to focus on family and travel.
Last updated: 2/22/2024