Broken Banjo Photography

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brent and his Dreadlocks: Portland, Oregon

This is Brent.  We met in Bend, Oregon sometime in 2005 or 2006, when we were both attending Central Oregon Community College.  I was living in my van on campus.  Between classes one day, while I was killing time in my vehicle, possibly playing the banjo, he and another friend poked their heads in and introduced themselves.

This was just a couple of months ago, in late 2012.  After 7 years, Brent was considering cutting off his dreadlocks, and asked me to take a series of photos highlighting his hair.  He looks much tougher here than he really is.  

This shot was taken with a digital Pentax K-5 using three speedlights; two are at equal distance, camera right and left, with shoot-through umbrellas, at about a 30-degree angle.  The third light is above him, bare, and on a low setting to highlight and outline the blond dreads.
We became fast friends; less than a year later, he, I, and a few other friends rented a house together, named it The Goodness Collective, and began an epic phase of potluck-hosting, musical jams, and general community-on-a-budget living.

When we met, his dreadlocks were relatively short.  We've shared many experiences together, including a week at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada in 2007.  Look at those short dreads.  This is from Burning Man in 2007, five years before the first photo.  He still has this hat. 
This image was shot with an old Pentax K1000 film camera, on ISO 200 film.  The negatives were scanned in and digitized at a very high resolution.  As you can see, this image hasn't been touched up and still contains dust specks from the festival.  Scanning negatives in like this allows me to zoom in several hundred percent and see film grain long before I see pixels.
 Brent now lives in Portland, Oregon, not too far from me.  He fishes commercially for salmon in Alaska during his summers, and studies political science the rest of the time.  While he is contemplating the next step in his life, I sincerely hope that we will remain close at heart.  He was married this year, and I had the serious honor, after all these years of friendship, of documenting his wedding.
Also taken with a Pentax K-5 at about 21mm; I chose to render many of Brent's wedding photos in black and white, partially because of our history.  He has been a subject many times as I've developed my portraiture skills, which were born of black and white film photography.
When introducing yourself to a stranger, as he did to me years ago, you never know how long and serious the resulting relationship will be.  Take that risk, and say hello.

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