As a long, looooong time fan of Blake Andrews—without his excellent blog and book reviews, this blog might not be here—when I stumbled across his “Portland Elegy” zine last year during a rare visit to Instagram, I bought a copy immediately.
Good thing too, as it sold out very quickly. Apologies if you’re late to the party.
“Portland Elegy” is a selection of @swerdnaekalb’s street work, made sometime between 1996 and 2005, as he roamed around his Portland neighborhood and ventured out to run errands or whatever. The selection leans heavily—nay, entirely—towards the classic joke/pun type of street photography with which we’re all familiar, and that Andrews found in his wanderings at least 30-odd times.
Nearly every picture has something in it that goes ba-dum-tss and the best, in my mind, might require a minute or two of looking to really spot it. The few that aren’t, are very much about patterns, the ways in which a photograph transforms its subject into flat planes, and the distortions that result. Regardless of type, in every case, the payoff for close looking is a nice dopamine hit.
It makes me think about walking more…. I have too many hobbies, pulling me in too many directions these days. I end up not doing much at all. Ho hum.
There’s not much more to say about this, really.
Insofar as “Portland Elegy” is out of print and unobtanium, apologies again for bragging about my collection again. I don’t mean to.
If you’re not following @swerdnaekalb on Instagram, or Andrews’ excellent photobook reviewing at Collector Daily or PhotoEye, or at least occasionally checking his blog for new articles or interviews, do yourself a favor and get acquainted. Andrews is a personal favorite, and after a few email exchanges over the years, I count him as a sort of friendly acquaintance, almost a friend, and definitely a sort of elder brother-type to look up to, and this admission sorta makes me want to cry for some reason.
Edit: I realize that this appeared on 12/25… I don’t celebrate that day at all, and so it never struck me, but this zine is really a gift. I intended to review it long before now: it sat on the side of my desk for nearly a year, occasionally getting covered by notes or other books or something, and never getting really looked at. What a blessing to come across it recently and spend some time with it. Good stuff.