A lot has changed in Oregon throughout the past 30 years, and a group of intrepid photographers have the images to prove it.
Last year, journalism student Brian Burk came across the book One Average Day at a Powell’s Bookstore on Hawthorne. The then 30-year-old photo book revolved around a single theme — a day in Oregon — and contained more than 230 images taken by both amateur and professional photographers during a 24-hour period on July 15, 1983.
Fast forward 30 years later to July 15, 2013 when Burk and a group of professional photographers and hobbyists, in collaboration with the The Oregon Historical Society (OHS), set out to do it all again. Burk undertook this revival project as a component of his graduate studies at the University of Oregon School of Journalism.
As Burk realized the possibilities for the revival, he knew he would have to get back in touch with those who were instrumental in the original undertaking. Working with The Oregon Historical Society was an important first step.
“They were really excited and really supportive,” said Burk from the main lobby of The Oregon Historical Society building. Burk and OHS were hosting a celebration commemorating the success of everyone who played a part in the collection of new images last July. That project was called Project Dayshoot +30.
“The Oregon Historical Society had been an integral partner in the original Project Dayshoot in 1983,” says Eliza Canty-Jones, editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly and public outreach manager for The Oregon Historical Society. OHS published One Average Day, and its executive director signed a letter for photographers to take with them giving them legitimacy and access otherwise unavailable.
“We don’t publish books anymore, but in the fall of last year, we published an essay by Brian [Burk] accompanied by several of the photographs from Dayshoot +30, plus a few originals in the Oregon Historical Quarterly,” says Canty-Jones.
Burk says that after talking with many of the other project organizers and participants, he realized that Project Dayshoot has grown into something that should exist more often than just every 30 years.
Thus Picture Oregon was born.
“Picture Oregon is the rebirth of Project Dayshoot,” explains Burk. “Dayshoot produced this vast collection of images and while we recognized that that name is good to be associated with … it makes more sense to have a broader term that encompasses the whole of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The idea for Picture Oregon came from Kara Christenson who recently graduated from a Master’s program where she studied Strategic Communications.
Many of the people involved with Dayshoot +30 discovered that the presence of digital photography and social media photo sharing impacted both the number of participants and the sheer number of photographs submitted. Picture Oregon is the natural evolution of this concept which allows for the media to be shared not only once a year, but on a continual basis that was otherwise unimaginable 30 years ago. Through Picture Oregon, people will have the opportunity to view and share photos online and through events that take advantage of social media and other innovations.
“Pretty much everything was different 30 years later,” says Michael Lloyd, one of the organizers and photographers on the original Project Dayshoot in 1983. “Digital photography, the opportunity for the digital presentation of that work — many more platforms than the black-and-white book that we did 30 years ago.”
Last year, submissions to Dayshoot +30 were also culled from social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. Those images in particular forced the producers to rethink how the project could evolve.
“We’re not locked in to any particular year or any particular day,” says Burk. “It gives us a certain amount of creative freedom to explore this idea that we’ve started, which is: What happens when you get a group of enthusiastic Oregonians together who aren’t necessarily all professional photographers and turn them loose in the state?”
If the celebration was any indication, Project Dayshoot +30 was a success and Picture Oregon appears off to a solid beginning. However, Burk says there is still work to be done. He says that keeping the momentum going is among one of the project’s biggest challenges.
“As every day passes and everyone gets back to their busy lives, it’s been a challenge to keep the lines of communication open, keep people enthused about it, because of course now that we have this collection, we want to share it with as many people as possible,” says Burk.
Soon Burk will announce a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the publication of a book, and currently there is an exhibition of the photographs on display at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland.
Though Burk’s graduate studies will be completed, and Picture Oregon is well underway, he says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that 30 years from now he’ll be back with some kind of commemorative project.
“I don’t know if we’ll even have cameras anymore, maybe we’ll just be taking pictures with our eyeballs — whatever Google has in store for us, we’ll be here to document another day in Oregon life.”