This is the introductory image to the next set of images I will be laying out over the next week or so. About a month ago I spent the day around the Oak Grove powerhouse along the Oak Grove fork of the Clackamas River. This is the third powerhouse I have such photographed in four years as part of a project called Art Jam which works in conjunction with PGE to put about two dozen area artists in powerhouses to document and render them through their art. The first powerhouse I was in was three years ago at Hawley in the Blue Heron mill in Oregon City. That powerhouse had been decommissioned and was slated to be torn down, so their was an interest in documenting the 100 year old building before it was demolished. The next year found me out at Bull Run in Sandy, another decommissioned powerhouse that is still standing, for now. I missed last year due to calendar conflicts. This year was my first in an active powerhouse, which was quite an experience. More on that in later posts though.
When working on a project like this, I take two different approaches. On one hand, we are expected to produce a single piece for traveling exhibit, so of course their is a part of my mind that focuses on finding one good image that either captures a sweeping narrative arc of the site or an image that focuses on some specific but pertinent detail of the location. Either way though, I am looking for one image. On the other hand, another portion of me works to document the experience with a series of images. As they say, a single photo is worth a thousand words, so it is not some brilliant revelation to realize that several well chosen and executed images strung together can say much more than a single image can ever hope to. In that regard, I made somewhere between 12-20 images that follow more of a comprehensive narrative of the experience as a whole, from beginning to end, as opposed to trying to find some way to capture all that in a single image.
Working with a narrative series is quite different than working with a single image. For one, when working in a series, you can make images that don't stand on their own, that are missing crucial elements needed to fly solo, because they don't have to be complete, they fit together like puzzle pieces with the images that come before or after them. This isn't an excuse for making poor images and throwing them in a series, saying the whole will make the parts greater by default. But at the same time, it is a different mentality. You can be more comfortable making images that would not be as interesting by themselves, but when done well and paired with other images that relate and are also done well, they do take on a new level of meaning. I think I enjoy this type of photography more than looking for that one hero image. Because as I said, you can say so much more with a carefully selected group of images.
Anyway, I will talk more about this powerhouse specifically with the following images, as well as the Three Lynx community that we were also allowed access to (where my favorite images came from). As I said, this was meant just to be an introduction.