Arts | NW Life

Oregon Photographers Go Back To The Future: Project Dayshoot 2013

OPB | July 8, 2013 7:15 a.m. | Updated: July 15, 2013 12:25 p.m.

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1983 Dayshoot organizers Michael Lloyd (left), Cathy Cheney and Michal Thompson (right) stand around Governor Vic Atiyeh (seated) as he signs a gubernatorial proclamation declaring July 15, 1983 to be Oregon Photojournalism Day. All three are back for this year's dayshoot.

1983 Dayshoot organizers Michael Lloyd (left), Cathy Cheney and Michal Thompson (right) stand around Governor Vic Atiyeh (seated) as he signs a gubernatorial proclamation declaring July 15, 1983 to be Oregon Photojournalism Day. All three are back for this year's dayshoot.

Oregon Historical Society

What were you doing on July 15, 1983?

Although many people would have a hard time pinpointing their activities 30 years ago, for a relatively small group of Oregonians, remembering is as easy as opening One Average Day, a book containing more than 230 images taken during a 24-hour period.

One Average Day is the product of Project Dayshoot, in which a group of 92 amateur and professional photographers from all over the state of Oregon documented a day in their individual lives.

And next week, a group of professional photographers and hobbyists, some of whom were part of the original group, are back to document the same day, 30 years later.

The idea to celebrate the original work as well as continue a tradition came at just the right time.

“Out of just interest in local history, I just happened to have picked up a copy of One Average Day at Powell’s,” explains Brian Burk, who is helping to resurrect this decades-old project.

An amateur photographer himself, Burk is also a student at the University of Oregon’s journalism program in Portland.

“I had never heard of the project,” he continues. “I just came across the book and a couple of months ago as I was flipping through it, it dawned on me that this year was the 30th anniversary.”

Burk seized on the opportunity to integrate a potential sequel to One Average Day with his journalism coursework and began the process of getting the original contributors back together. He’s now working with Mike Lloyd, one of the original Oregonian photographers who helped direct and produce the first project. Together with a number of other original contributors, they’ve successfully revived the concept, as well as expanded the project to include mediums which didn’t exist 30 years ago.

“I think this project in 2013 is very interesting because, honestly, I’ve always thought that ‘a day in the life’ was an editorial cop-out,” says Lloyd. “It doesn’t really have a story other than ‘this day happened.’ But in that, there are the everyday moments that are captured in still photography and what we’ll be able to do with this project this year is include multimedia.” 

The original One Average Day book was published by Western Imprints, the press of the Oregon Historical Society, in 1984.

The original One Average Day book was published by Western Imprints, the press of the Oregon Historical Society, in 1984.

Ifanyi Bell / OPB

According to Burk, more than half of the original 92 photographers who participated in 1983 will be back this year. And as with the first project, the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is helping to support the action. Next year, the Society will host an exhibition containing many of the photographs that were taken this year and help to curate and preserve them as an important document in Oregon’s history. OHS supported the original publication of One Average Day, but this time around, the project’s producers are debating whether or not a physical book is the best way to share the imagery.

Burk and Lloyd admit that with digital technology such as cell phones, and the use of social media like Instagram, there may be fascinating implications they have yet to explore when considering a final product.

“We’ll be able to use all of those tools in 2013, where in ‘83 [the book] was a black-and-white medium with a little bit of color,” says Lloyd.

Whatever the final presentation format will be, all proceeds will benefit OHS.

With many of the original photographers from 30 years ago participating this year, Burk and Lloyd think there may be some interesting historical juxtapositions and comparisons of old and new.

“We have encouraged some of the original photographers, if they wanted, to go back to the same spot to see how it has changed … A few people plan to do that, but it’s not the main focus,” says Burk.

Though this year’s anniversary shoot has yet to come, Lloyd, Burk and others are already thinking about future dayshoots.

Lloyd is optimistic that the Oregon community could support something much more ambitious.

“We’ve discussed … continuing this not as a day-in-the-life project, but conceivably a daily project. The direction that publishing is going, it would be fascinating to see if an online magazine or interactive website could be created where contributors could tell stories, which is really what we are all about.”

Project Dayshoot+30 is still looking for photographers to participate on July 15. Regardless of your photographic experience or type of camera equipment, you are encouraged to submit your work. Submissions are accepted in most forms, and can be submitted by way of Instagram and Flickr. For more information on how to get involved, visit the website.

Listen to the interview on Think Out Loud

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