*Shooting Portland’s newest, whiskey-centric bar, the Bit House Saloon for the @ELKcollective


There is always an emotional transition when one longstanding bar transforms into another.  The Eastbank Tavern was a stalwart on the industrial east side in Portland, at least for as long as I can remember.  One of those bars along Grand that you’d pop into after heading back across the river from a show downtown for a nightcap.  The smell of smoke and fried food, lingering in the air engrained into the DNA of the establishment, like a good, working class bar should.  Times though, they are a changing.  The neighborhood is now looking to appeal not just to the growing group of more astute imbibers, but to the younger, newer Portland crowd.  A population that values aesthetic over quirk perhaps, and sees the quality of their surroundings as important as the quality of their drinks.  A trend happening not only in that MLK/Grand corridor, but all over the city.  Evolve or get left behind as it were.  While there are many venues I’ve visited in town, I feel too many of them aim for a wine bar feel for those with a champagne budget, too easily classified as gentrificated snobbery which is totally out of place to many who have watched Portland transform over the last twenty years or so.

The beauty of this new iteration is that is still holds much of the Eastbank’s character, but has helped move this saloon into the new age of more discerning quaffers.  This newer, hipper, fancier version of Portland that has followed in the wake of the boom over the last decade has asked these venues to offer up a bit more ambiance.  What I love about the Bit House Saloon, is that it has taken the rough, grimy portland, and like many of its longstanding residents, gone from damp carpet, PBR and flannel, to wood, whiskey and leather, and well, $1 High Life Ponies for those of us looking for a back, or no frills option.  I’d always seen Portland as a working class town even if Fred and Carrie have shown us that retirement can be achieved early as long as we’re willing to not do much of anything, and it’s good to see that there can exist a bridge between this new era of craft cocktails and earlier, perhaps simpler times.  Change doesn’t have to happen entirely overnight…

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*Shooting the Kennedy School

the kennedy school

The historic John D. Kennedy Elementary School, in North East Portland, Oregon was given to the Portland Public Schools in 1913, finished and opened in 1915 and functioned as an elementary school until 1975.  For anyone residing in Portland, the name McMenamin is synonymous with appropriated derelict properties which are converted into theaters, restaurants, breweries, bars and hotels.  The Kennedy Elementary School is one of the more unique and enjoyable of the many, and continually growing list of properties owned and operated by the McMenamins which started as two brothers, raised in North East Portland, who opened the Produce Row Cafe in 1974, but I digress.  The Kennedy School (as it’s known to Portlanders) has a theater, multiple bars, a courtyard restaurant, soaking pool, gym and many guest and conference rooms, all residing within the original framework of this old school.   The Kennedy School recently built a new wing of guest rooms and I was asked to shoot the new hotel room additions for the company that handled this and other McMenamins property redesigns, my friends at WCI. Here are a few shots from the Kennedy School’s new hotel rooms.

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*Welcome to the ELK Collective, creative collaboration realized.

The dream of many hard working creative professionals is one born of independence, creative control, self direction, recognition and collaboration with artistic minds enabling a motivating force to push you forward in your craft.  There is something to be said about being your own boss, setting your own hours and managing your own business, but this requires you to be a tireless jack of all trades.  You must master the business side and all that goes along with it all while maintaining a creative drive, not to mention drumming up business.  It is easy to burn out, or fall into a rut, ultimately sacrificing something along the way.  What if you could gather great friends, all working in various creative fields with complimentary skill sets to collaborate on projects which benefit greatly from each individual part, making a much stronger whole?  I would like to introduce you to the ELK Collective… C’mon in.

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