When Kirk Crippens went on a five-week residency at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Ore., he welcomed the opportunity to shift gears a bit. The residency allowed him to work without distraction from life’s daily grind, and he was able to take a break from his long-term project about the recession toward something more whimsical. The result was a portrait-based series, “Portraitlandia,” in which he turned his camera on the people of Portland.
Although he was only in Portland for about a month, Crippens spent close to a year preparing for the residency, acting a bit like a tourist and scouting out possible portrait subjects through word of mouth. He decided to follow his subjects’ lead regarding locations for the shoot, and he asked them also to give him two hours of their time to create the portrait—an unusually long commitment for Crippens. “I wanted to do something that had authenticity while being aware I was new to Portland and didn’t have the time to build the relationships I would normally have,” he said.
Crippens also decided to work outside of his comfort zone and shot the entire series with a 4-by-5 view camera using film. It was the first time for him using the camera, and he practiced using it before heading to Portland. He said it allowed him to slow down his process, and it broke the ice a bit with his subjects who were curious about the camera. “Working in a slow, analog medium really leant itself to having an opportunity to get to know the folks,” he said. “It gave an expansiveness to their sessions.”