In spite of the fact that the menu at McMenamins is pretty much the same at every location, I do love this local monopoly on cool social venues. The art is fun, the grounds are always interesting to explore, the gardeners have a great time, and it’s fascinating to see old spaces infused with new life.

So taking photographs of a wedding–like the one above, at McMenamins Edgefield–is always fun.

After the wedding ceremony, I heard Marcus telling a friend: “Whenever I started to choke up, I just looked across the room at this painting of Saddam playing the bagpipe, and I relaxed.”

I’ll never look at that painting in the same way again.

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Now that the rain has passed, it’s time for outdoor senior portraits. Until more rain comes. It’s been a strange summer.

I don’t think this is why they hired me, but Marissa’s family has a schnauzer named Fritz. It was both strange and funny to hear people calling “Come here Fritz! Come! Good boy!” and know they weren’t talking to me.

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  • August 23, 2007 - 10:57 pm

    Anonymous - Fritz,
    The slide show of Marissa is wonderful!!! I will recommend to you to any and all people that I can. I knew that my daughter was beautiful, but, whew! this takes my breath away! Thanks for the priceless memories.
    Mr. Fritz’s Mom(the schnauzer) & Marissa’s too!!

Portland Oregon urban senior photo yearbook

Roxy Mayer, a Lincoln High School Student, is a triplet (with two brothers). With a little styling from AJ’s Hair and Makeup, and the assistance of Roxy’s friend Molly, we had some fun with these portraits. She laughs easily, and is easy to photograph. We had a great time creating these beautiful Portland senior portraits in the Eastside Industrial Area and on the Eastbank Esplanade, in central Portland.


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Some 15 years ago, I lived in Carlton, Oregon, which, as the signs at the outskirts informed you as you drove in, is “A Great Little Town.” And it truly is. But this isn’t a story about Carlton, it’s about my grandparents.

One Sunday afternoon, they drove me way out in the country, past Yamhill, on along a dirt road, to the famous Flying M Ranch. Way out in the rolling hills, there was this ranch, with horses and camping, an airstrip, the Yamhill River, and a big log lodge, with a restaurant. People would drive and fly in from all over, to eat at the restaurant, walk the grounds, and stay in the cabins. The lodge even had photos of Ernst Borgnine from a visit he made to the Flying M.

We ate lunch there, and finished it off with blackberry pie and ice cream. It was a lovely outing, and a fond memory.

This past Saturday, I had opportunity to return to the Flying M Ranch, for a wedding. Only it’s not technically the Flying M any more. It was recently bought by some great people who are, with a lot of volunteers, revamping the place, and using it for events such as weddings, which help fund camps for disadvantaged kids. It’s a great concept. They call it 5 Rock Ranch.

But really, this isn’t about Carlton, my grandparents, or 5 Rock Ranch. It’s about Christina and Cameron, who are the first couple ever to be married at the new site. And a beautiful site it is. Rustic, lush, and lovely, it was a great site for a fun wedding.

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  • July 11, 2007 - 2:23 am

    Anonymous - Come on! Those are some fantastic photos! I have stayed at the flying M…oops…whatever it is called now….many times! I love it! It has so many great memories that are close to my heart. These photos capture the fun and laughter of the day. Amazing!
    Namaste to you both.

    Beth and Willie Smith. married June 23rd.

Elizabeth Kirk used to work in the circus. Willie Smith works in politics. Similar enough professions, I suppose, that it’s no surprise that they got together. And when they get together, boy to the sparks fly! Literally.

Willie and Beth’s wedding on June 23, 2007, was perhaps the most fun event I have ever photographed. Here’s the lineup:

-A goofy, fun-loving couple (for further proof, see their engagement portraits, at Oaks Park);
-One of my favorite outdoor wedding locations (Mt Hood Bed and Breakfast, in Parkdale, Oregon);
-Willie’s bosses: Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, and Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, and their staffs and families;
-Willie and Beth’s fun Cheez-Whiz loving families;
-A groomsman with the funniest toast in the history of weddings. I was laughing so hard I could hardly take a photograph;
-Hoola Hoops in abundance;
-Guests who are in theater, are good dancers, and real pranksters;
-And a jug full of kerosene.

Ah, yes, the infamous jug full of kerosene at the wedding trick. Never seen that one? Neither had I. It was spectacular. I couldn’t stop chuckling to myself.

Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, and Willie and Beth Smith.

Want to see more? Their slideshow is a lot of fun, and includes a lot more fire-breathing, hula-hooping, crazy-dancing fun. View more of our Oregon destination wedding photography at

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  • June 27, 2007 - 1:01 pm

    Robert Hogan - Absolutely delightful. And a nice antidote to what I was looking at earlier today – the images from the “New American Portraits” show at the Beckman gallery in NYC. Nearly all sterile, disspirited and even hostile. Thanks, Fritz.

  • June 27, 2007 - 8:50 pm

    Anonymous - This is the COOLEST photo. I love the whole blog and website. Beautiful photography and commentary. But the Fire breathing Bride photo is spectacular!!!

  • July 5, 2007 - 10:56 am

    Anonymous - WOW! What can we say except…WOW! You must be so proud of your work. We certainly are! Fritz, you are such an artist and we cannot thank you enough for being a part of our day. We are both overjoyed with the amazing photos that you took of us, our families and friends. What a treat. We cannot stop beaming over them! There were so many times we looked at each other and said “did you know he was taking photos then?” A true testament to your ability. The slide show you put together expresses our personalities and the fun that we had exactly; right down to the music you selected. You really nailed it right on the head. For those that were unable to join us, it is a great way to share the full story. We would recommend you to anyone and everyone. These are not just photos, they are works of art and we can’t wait to share them and enjoy them over and over again!

    Words just cannot express our gratitude.

    Thank you!

Earlier this week, one of my July brides wrote and asked me an interesting question. She said she was looking forward to portraits on the wedding day, but wondered if, after the wedding, we could take some photos that didn’t treat the wedding dress like a precious object. She had found a website promoting such things, and I was intrigued. What a great idea. Usually people just stash their dresses away; instead of stash it, why not trash it, and have some fun along the way?

So I thought I’d get a little practice. Why not do the same thing for a high school senior’s portraits? A dress is a dress, and usually you do everything you can to keep it clean and dry and looking great: avoid the Portland rain, the mud, the wine spills. Admire the water but don’t get in past your toes. Forget all that. Let’s have some fun…

So I did. My friend Natalie volunteered herself and her dresses, and we spent a couple hours pushing the envelope. What a good sport she was! She was cold in the water. But I think the results were worth it. (Of course, I can say that, since I wasn’t the one in the sand, dirt, and water….)

I’m still not convinced that just getting a dress wet constitutes trashing it, although the water was cold and chlorinated and a little slimy. And the dress was custom made. But there’s room for to push the trashing limits. Even though I already tend toward uncommon portraiture here in Portland, my high school senior portraits may never be the same. I hope so. If there’s a category of sports titled Adventure Sports, then perhaps I’ll start calling my portraits Adventure Ports…. I’m trademarking that.

Have any interest in a Trash the Dress photo shoot in the Portland, Oregon area? Wedding dresses, high school seniors, bored moms are all welcome.  Give me a call Could be fun.

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I have the very great honor of being a friend of Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth Larson, that is. You know, the Centennial Rose Festival Queen, crowned on Saturday right before the big, wet parade?

I’ve known Elizabeth a few months now, as she’s been working with me on a photographic project, and I helped her and a couple friends with an assembly at Lincoln High School, where she was a senior (and now a graduate). I have to say, the Rose Festival made an excellent choice; they couldn’t have picked a sweeter queen.

She’s super-involved in all kinds of things, which is partly what the above photograph illustrates: student assembly member, a superintendent student advisory council member and a student alternate to the Portland Public School Board. She’s studied abroad in Costa Rica, works on the Save Darfur campaign, teaches Sunday School, plans to teach kindergarten in the future, etc etc. But what really sets her apart isn’t all the good stuff she does, it’s her attitude: she’s caring, gentle, honest, has good friendships, cares about her classmates.
My congratulations to you, Elizabeth! May your reign be a blessing to this city.
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I was shown this video yesterday, a time-lapse that begins with a plain-looking, pimply young woman, and within about 30 seconds (time-lapse time), she’s displayed on a billboard as a supermodel. And yet, the person on the billboard isn’t the person we started with. It’s revealing.

You need to see the video.

It’s really quite disconcerting. The most troubling section is where you seen the woman’s face–after the layers of makeup and the volume of hairstyling and the magic of lighting and the flattery of studio photography–her face is being touched up and distorted in a Photoshop-like program, until her proportions (eye size, neck length, etc) are supermodel-like. And that’s disconcerting because I’m a photographer, and I use Photoshop. I have the power to do the same thing.

I have to hand it to the makers; it’s from Dove, interestingly enough, and their Campaign for Real Beauty. Their point is that fashion models and extreme dieting don’t make a perfect woman, that normal people of any age are beautiful, and that beauty isn’t skin deep. The whole site ( is focused on this issue. It’s impressive.

I heartily applaud their efforts, and hope that more and more corporations will follow suit. And more photographers, as well.

Like anyone, I’m attracted to physical beauty; it’s in our nature to be so. Yet I find myself constantly fighting to remember that real beauty is not skin deep, is not artifice, is not sex appeal, is not the goods I’m being sold in the hundreds of images I see every week. It’s tough work. I mostly fail. But I don’t give in.

In my own photographic work, I made a decision long ago not to work with models, if I could avoid it. I don’t generally shoot model cards, don’t shoot fashion, try to avoid the risque. Not because I’m a prude, but because I don’t want to be part of the problem. I don’t want to lie. And I don’t want to believe the lie. As the above video shows, much of what our culture calls beauty–and what we export and sell to the entire world as beautiful–is a lie.

I would rather photograph real people. Whether or not I’m trying to make them look good, normal people are pretty interesting. Making a normal person look good–drawing them out of their shell, helping them relax and have fun, and using the tools of my trade to show their best side–is usually fun work, and I enjoy it immensely. But I try to emphasize the fact that I’m creating a portrait of someone, not a glamor shot. It may not even be pretty, but it could be true. It’s one thing to make a person look good; it’s another to treat them like putty and mold them into a lie.

In my current documentary project on eating disorders, I work regularly with women and men who have been beat down and bought in to the lie that beauty has to do with their weight or sex appeal. Most of them hate themselves. Most of them are trying to kill themselves. I usually sit there, talking with or photographing them, and simply want to say: You are so beautiful. You have so much inside of you that is beautiful. You have so much going for you. It’s not always appropriate or profitable to say such things, but I think them, I pray for them, I do what little I can with my words and photographs to encourage them.

It’s not often I give a thumbs-up to a multinational corporation for much of anything. But thanks, Dove, for telling the truth.

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  • June 5, 2007 - 5:21 pm

    FotoBoy - Very well said Fritz! I applaud you for putting this out into the world and trying to raise awareness. It’s a tough battle to fight in our society. Every magazine you pick up has been worked on by a team of retouching specialists. Young women and women of all ages look to these portrayals of beauty to measure themselves. When they don’t measure up, they turn to cosmetic surgery or even worse, develop a false sense of identity that is not grounded in reality and truth.

This past week, National Public Radio’s program Day to Day did a story on this great guy in Vancouver, Washington. He’s memorized a few thousand names of people who visit or come regularly to his church, and he greets them by name every Sunday morning. And he’s my dad.

You can listen to the story here, at NPR’s website.
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  • May 18, 2007 - 12:23 pm

    FotoBoy - Great story Fritz! I’m having a hard time visualizing this man as your father. Perhaps you could add a little soul patch to his photo and that would make it complete!

    Nice NPR story. You must be very proud of your father.

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