Anyone who’s known me for any length of time has seen me with a camera or two. Since I was given one at age ten, it’s been an integral part of my life. I’ve grown up seeing the world through a lens. I originally started out shooting nature, but a two-week workshop with the legendary Jay Maisel transformed my work. No longer content creating beautiful landscape imagery, I’ve been interested in capturing emotion and how the ‘hand of man’ impacts the environment.
Although I complain about our persistent gray skies and abundance of rain, I love Oregon. It offers an extremely diverse range of terrain from the rugged coastline and lush rain forest to the arid high desert of central and eastern Oregon. If you don’t like a particular type of landscape, drive awhile and it’ll change. Crossing the state on Highway 20 from Newport on the coast to the Idaho border is proof of the amazing diversity in Oregon’s landscape.
But it’s Oregon’s Highway 101 that dazzles with incredible beauty around virtually every bend. As a driver, it’s a tough road to focus on the task of actually driving as the eye is captivating by the crashing surf, jagged rock formations or monstrous sand dunes. The many waysides beckon you to pull over and to take it all in, reminding yourself how insignificant you are against nature’s power. Unlike many highways, there’s never a stretch of road that doesn’t delight the senses in some fashion. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It’s only of late that I’ve come to truly appreciate just how grand it is. Just how special. There’s something about its mighty power that lures me back and am always in awe of it.
There are 20 key bridges connecting the communities along Highway 101 from Astoria to Brookings.
On a calm day with soft coastal breezes lapping at your cheeks, you feel as if you’re on top of the world. These special bridges connect us and allow fluid travel to our next destination. Often, however, we don’t always notice them as we’re taken by the shear beauty of the natural environment. Look closer and you realize they’re not just utilitarian structures carrying us from points A to B to C and so on, but designed to delight the eye and complement the environment they inhabit each in their own way. 11 of these bridges were designed by world renowned engineer Conde B. McCullough and built in the late 20s and 30s. They allowed efficient travel as before you had to be ferried across. Sadly, the Alsea Bay Bridge, succumbed to the elements and had to be replaced in the mid-90s, however the new structure echoes the beauty of the original. The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport – now 75 years old features concrete and metal arches dancing across Yaquina Bay like a pebble skipping across a still lake. Because he knew people would be below just as much as on his bridges, McCullough infused careful details in the understructure to please the eye. And he didn’t disappoint. Time Magazine once noted that it was one of the most beautiful bridges in the world – and most photographed.
Twenty Bridges is a celebration of these graceful structures that bring us closer together. I’ve tried to capture them in the context of their environment as well as the details that complete the whole. Each has many stories to tell of the people who’ve traveled up and down the coast. Residents and tourists. Kids and families. Couples on a romantic getaway. Starting with the Astoria-Megler bridge at the top of the state and ending with the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge crossing the Rogue River in Gold Beach, come along with me on a trip down the Oregon Coast.
Twenty Bridges will be a gallery exhibition in the fall of 2012 featuring a mix of large prints of each bridge and smaller prints that showcase each of these bridges in their environment. There will also be a finely-produced coffee table book plus a short film about driving down the Oregon coast. Your support will help cover the cost of film, high-resolution drum scans and gallery prints. Anything additional will go into enhancing the gallery show and production of the film. Below is a working cover and select images from the project along with links to each of the bridges I’ll photograph for the project. I aim to complete shooting by late Spring, 2012, working through winter and a mix of the always unpredictable coastal weather.