“Keep Portland Weird!” — this slogan alone is the reason many people up and move to this delightful city in Oregon. However, there’s also the fact that some of the coolest events in the US happen right here in PDX. In fact, there’s always something happening in Portland. There are film festivals, wine and food outings, countless concerts, and winter festivals. There’s the Portland Rose Festival, Rose City Comic Con, and the Waterfront Blues Festival. But, how do you make those moments last forever? Well, just take a look at the best Portland event photographers who can do that with ease.
1. Kenton Waltz
Portland event photographer and video director Kenton Waltz is always up for snapping photos. A professional photographer for more than a decade, Waltz has an eye for the unusual, as well as a strong work ethic. Approaching his photography with a photojournalistic perspective, he covers all sorts of events from openings to fundraisers.
Not only that, but he’s worked with dozens of clients from TEDxPortland to the Portland Mercury. He’s got a well-developed sense of style and a keen artistic eye, and overall his work feels very intentional — there’s a definite sense of control and experience behind each and every shot.
As well as running his own photography business, Anthony Pidgeon has shot for Vortex Music Magazine, Diablo Magazine, and SF Weekly. Specializing primarily in celebrity, music, and events photography, Pidgeon has been in the game for more than two decades.
He’s shot countless events from the Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. His photos succinctly capture the energy of an event, whether it’s up-tempo and wild or refined and elegant, and he accomplishes this by focusing his lens on the right people at the right time. If you’re looking for a seasoned professional for your event, Pidgeon is your guy.
3. Sam Gehrke
Born in Milwaukee to two artists, Sam Gehrke was an artist before he knew it. Accompanying his photographer father to many of his shoots when he was younger helped him to realize the kind of outlet photography could be. After college and a move to Portland, Gehrke began shooting in his local skate parks, earning him an aesthetic online reputation.
Since taking up photography full-time, he has garnered attention from dozens of publications, including Rolling Stone, VICE, and NPR. Gehrke’s event photography covers some of Portland’s more alternative parties and fairs, and his style often reflects that — it might be hip and Instagram-ready, or it might have a guerrilla sensibility, up in the mix amidst the crowd and the action.
Beth Nakamura has an Emmy Award, which she won for visual journalism as part of The Oregonian team. Ghosts of Highway 20 is an ambitious documentary project covering a slew of women who disappeared along a stretch of Oregon highway. Nakamura’s work has also been recognized by American Photography, the National Black Journalists Association, and the National Headliner Awards, amongst others.
Currently a multimedia journalist for The Oregonian, she still shoots events all across PDX. Unsurprisingly, you can count on her for a steady documentary eye, capturing the full spectrum of each event she shoots as if it were for a newspaper article. This means the right mix of close, medium, and wide shots, as well as visually communicating all the W’s — the who, what, where, etc.
5. Mark Graves
Mark Graves is another photographer who shoots for The Oregonian. Covering breaking news and events across the city from parades to protests to sports, Graves’s visual style takes viewers along for the ride. With his work also showing up on KGTV-TV and the Casper Star-Tribune, it isn’t just Portland that recognizes his skill for photography.
He graduated from Evergreen State College in 2004 with a bachelor of arts and has been working solidly ever since, bringing his well-honed photojournalistic skill set to bear to capture the shot whenever it happens, under whatever circumstances arise. It’s no surprise he’s among the top Portland event photographers. That’s what that documentary experience does for seasoned photographers: it makes sure they get the impromptu shots others might not be ready for.
6. Meg Nanna
Portland event photographer Meg Nanna has one finger on the pulse and another on the shutter. Nanna lives to connect with people, whether she’s shooting portraits, an arts assignment, or an event. As a photographer, she knows her job is to be at the front line and the back wall simultaneously. Her event shots have appeared in the Portland Mercury, where she’s now a staff member.
She has also recently founded the arts collective Fused Creative, doing her part to grow the already formidable Portland arts community. Nanna is an artist through and through, and when she’s allowed to fuse her own creative vision with the parties and fundraisers she’s shooting, the results can be truly striking.
7. Doug Brown
Doug Brown has both the Portland Mercury and Cleveland Scene Magazine under his belt as a news reporter and staff writer. An Oregon-based photographer and writer, he’s also been published in many local and national publications. His event photography does an excellent job of focusing on human beings, using the city of Portland as a decidedly fine co-star.
Every adept event photographer has to communicate the right balance of both the scene of an event, as well as the people within it, and some shoot too many of one or the other, but not Brown. His coverage is well-rounded and lively, full of technically excellent shots composed thoughtfully.
Photographers who specialize in events can take your event to the next level. They can capture the spirit of a party with the click of a button, as well as work in low and bright light situations. Each of these Portland event photographers has their own way of looking at the world and something unique to give you in return.