Portland, OR 2018


One of my favorite scenes in Portland is of a food truck, adorned with manga characters, not far from where I buy groceries and drink hot chocolate. The characters may be generic, or they may be famous, I don’t know. Despite a brief flirtation with Japanese anime, my interest in manga has never strayed beyond reading Takehiko Inoue’s epic series on Miyamoto Musashi entitled Vagabond. So, if these characters on the food truck are famous, I’m oblivious.  Regardless, I find them fascinating.

Walking around with my new (to me) Mamiya RB67 and breaking it in, I glanced over my shoulder while jaunting down Burnside, at the food truck and was struck by the light. This light, gentle and even, emphasized the whole scene, not just the trailer. I’ve photographed this scene several times previously, and never successfully. Likely that's because my photos focused on the restaurant rather than the whole scene. This time, from my position the iPhone billboard hung menacingly above, impossibly large and filling much of the frame. A bystander stopped to ask if I was documenting Apple’s advertising campaign. No, I said shaking my head. Apple is one of the largest companies in the world. They don’t need me to document their advertising. In fact, I was feeling the opposite. This image was coming together to seem more like a tale of David v. Goliath, of the story of small America v. large, of the little food truck, hoping to survive, literally in the shadow of one of the world’s wealthiest companies, represented by this billboard. 

Up the street used to hang a smaller billboard of a nude Alicia Silverstone, declaring that she’d “rather go naked than wear wool.” 

I recomposed my camera, locked up the mirror, and waited for the traffic to clear. Across the intersection, a gentleman walked up and placed his hand on the light post. His profile mirrored those of the manga characters and the billboard, and I knew that I had my image.