I've been to Portland once, years ago, and also to the Newport area. I absolutely love it out there, and my wife and I are seriously considering a move to Portland (Charlotte, NC is just not where we want to be). I'm planning a trip for this summer to look around, see about places to live, and look for work (probably not in commercial photography, more likely to be printing or support...). We like San Francisco but it's probably too expensive. Portland appeals because of the landscape photography opportunities in the area, places like Blue Moon Camera, and the climate. It rains more in Charlotte than it does in Portland!
And then there is the coffee, the beer, and the food.
I used to live in Vancouver, Washington. It is just across the Columbia River from Portland. I haven't been there in several years. There are several APUGers in the Portland area.
Portland does have good coffee, beer and food...and a lot of festivals to celebrate them. It also has a lot of bridges and a river through the middle. The music scene here is pretty good too.
I don't know about jobs however. Seems everybody is a photographer. I have run a custom black and white wet lab for over 20 years at the highest quality and had top commercial clients, however
there just isn't enough work to survive on and I am looking for some sort of job other than photography for the first time since 1975. Not a lot of jobs to be had. You will need some luck.
rthomas, There is no question that this region is a spectacular place to live in, but I must caution you. Having looked up the average rainfall for Charlotte NC, according to the Chamber of Commerce, you get around 43 inches a year, which is pretty good but, just to let you know, where I live in the Columbia River Gorge not far from the Portland Airport, last year we got over 74 inches! Of course that was a wet year, but normally we get well over 60 inches. I hope you like the rain as much as my wife and I do.
Hmmm. Gonna have to recheck those weather statistics I've been looking at... but I don't mind rain too much. Of course you have a wet season and a dry season, right? We get it year-round. One thing I know you don't get like we do is the really severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. We just had a tornado here in Charlotte, a little way from where I live; my neighbor and I both heard the thing go by... Not the first time I've seen a tornado (OK, I didn't see this one, it was 2:45 am), but the first time I actually heard one. Not nice.
Of course you have volcanoes! But you have to live somewhere. I'm not thinking of continuing the photography "career" (such as it is). I have no clients at the moment and it doesn't look like that will change. I will continue making my own prints, and sometimes I might even sell one or two... Charlotte is banking, and although I have worked in the financial sector I didn't like it. The reason I tried to do freelance photography full-time is that, even with a Master's in Graphic Arts (the technical side), I was unable to find steady work in or out of my field. I have applied for something on the order of 1,000 jobs and had exactly five interviews. All I've had except for a couple product photography shoots is seasonal work in retail at Christmas. Not bad work, really, but the pay was not enough and the jobs were temporary anyway.
So, if I'm going to be always "semi-under-employed" and always on the lookout for the next short-term money-making opportunity, I might as well do it in a place I enjoy.
The rain in Portland takes most people a couple of years to get used to. Maybe not if you are from Charlotte. I am from kansas and after the first year in Portland I decided i couldn't take it and packed everything in a uhaul and moved to San Diego. One week in San Diego and I said forget it I am going back to Portland. After you get used to the rain you kind of thrive on it and appreciate what it is doing for you. Lots of water, lots of plants, lots of green, very mild weather. There is definitely a dry season most years in the Summer. Summers are beautiful and nothing like sitting at the waterfront park drinking world class ales in the brewers fest.
There is quite a photographic community here. There is The Blue Sky Gallery which is actually a whole community of people with a great gallery downtown run by Chris Rauschenberg, the son of famed artists Robert Rauschenberg. Supported in part by the NEA.
There is also the New Space gallery with workshops and rental darkrooms. And there are several photo groups that have monthly meetings.
And you can always drive to the coast and find fantastic areas to photograph in.
The coast is, of course, very nice, but we have here, much closer, a National Scenic Area, the only one in the country. A short drive from downtown Portland brings you to an area with the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America, and one of the most unique places in America. For some reason Portlanders seem to gravitate westward when looking for an area in which to recreate. The Columbia River Gorge was voted by National Geographic photographers as one of the top ten most scenic and sustainable areas IN THE WORLD. I can tell you that after having lived here for the past fifteen years, I have never been bored by my surroundings. On the contrary, I always feel exhilarated by just stepping outside my front door.
Good morning, R Thomas;
There are a few other surprises you may find out here in the Pacific Northwest. One of those is "the mountains." Yes, I know that the Appalachians and the Smokey Mountains are back there, but you need to come out here to see what they really looked like a few hundred thousand years ago.
The Columbia River Gorge Area has been mentioned already. You know about "the Oregon Coast" and the neat things you can find there from the waves beating on the rocks by Tillamook Head to the sand dunes down by Florence. Then you can also drive to Eastern Oregon and visit such places as the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds. Bring your camera when you go there; you will not believe the colors. Want vistas of man's efforts in industrialization? Again in Eastern Oregon you can drive by mile after mile of large pylons with slow turning wind turbines making electricity from the prevailing winds. Then if you go just a little bit to the west to the middle of the state on the east side of the Cascades, you can see the high voltage electrical power transmission line towers marching across the land on their way down to California to deliver most of that electricity to the Californians.
Don't worry too much about that rain thing. I think that is why God gave us Goretex.
The US Navy moved us around a lot over the years. We lived in many nice places, but I still feel (yes, personal opinion here) that the Pacific Northwest is one of the nicest areas in North America to live.
Latte Land, Washington
I actually have ridden on an Amtrak passenger train the entire length, pretty much, of the Columbia Gorge, and that is definitely on my "to do" list! But first I have to get out there. Thanks for the comments so far.
Oregon is a SUPERB place to live. I work downtown, and there are TONS of things to shoot! The Gorge is close, and as the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world. Rainier is a few hours away, same with the ocean. Wildflowers are blowing up right now. As stated, the beer, food and coffee is great here. Lots of activities to do - especially in the coming months. The portland hikers meet up group IS VERY active. I think the biggest problem you will have once moving here is what to shoot on any given day
I didn't think it rained more anywhere than it does in the Pacific Northwest.
I'd lived in Vancouver, WA off and on for years and now live in Woodland, WA just 22 miles north of Portland.
I've never considered moving to Portland but there are great places to visit there and plenty to do. I've not been to Blue Moon yet but I have a friend who insists that I should so I plan to.
The weather during the summer is fantastic. Winters can be pretty darn wet. We get occasional snow and I like that.
I feel a need to interject. Rain is GOOD! Without rain, everything dries up, turns brown and is a constant threat for wildfires. Besides, how does one get a great clearing storm photograph, with those amazing clouds and sun light beaming through, without the storm? Inclement weather is oh so photogenic, just ask Ron Cronin.
Very true but I turn in to a hermit when the weather is wet and cold. But wow do we get the greens of nature in the spring and my neighbors' flowers are calling out for me to photograph them.