Around the World in Analogue: The Charms of Portland by @mcgloin


Lomographer Brian McGloin (@mcgloin) has been with the community long enough to remember our Lomography City Guides (here is what we made for Vienna). The closest equivalent would be our online Around the World in Analogue series, where we invite you to indulge us with your favorite places around the globe. Brian expressed an interest in sharing his fondness for his city in Portland, Oregon, so we caught up with him to chat about this cool city!

Credits: mcgloin

Hi, Brian. It’s been a while since we last spoke to you—when you became our Community Amigo for the Minitar lens, which was five years ago. What has changed since then?

Since then my wife and I escaped Austin and moved to Portland, OR, so I could attend Portland State University. I graduated in 2019 with a bachelor of science in communication just in time for a pandemic. I’m not going to get too dark here, but the past couple of years were pretty rough. I lost some people close to me and this damn pandemic has made it tough to interact with people.

On the positive side, I finally, FINALLY have a good film scanner and Portland is a good town for film photography (why isn’t there a Lomography Gallery store here?) and film cameras, both of which make it much easier to practice Lomography the way I want. I’ve started going on bikepacking trips in addition to getting deep inside Portland exploring by bike. In 2019 I rode a 1,200 mile (1,930 km) section of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which was a different part than what I rode in 2016. Getting out on bike rides has been a part of my life since the mid-1980s — I was even a bike messenger in NYC a million years ago. During these past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to be in a place where I can do a lot of self-reflection and personal growth. My whole life I’ve had this super-toxic inner monologue and I’m learning to reframe that into something realistically positive.

You’ve been a Lomographer since 2002, and are still active in the community—thank you! Could you tell us briefly about your journey with film photography?

I first learned how to develop film in Mount Ida College at Newton, Mass. in 1992 while studying graphic design. I transferred to Western Connecticut State University the next year where I dug into the craft and methodology of photography. I explored both artistic or creative photographic pursuits and more “serious” photography, which led me to the student-run university newspaper. I never really stopped shooting film or carrying film cameras around. While working as a staff photographer for a newspaper chain in Connecticut we transitioned to digital. I sometimes used film for assignments, partially because the Nikon D1h’s we used were a pain and partially because I could. I often had a Holga or some silly camera with me on assignments or a Nikon F4s with slide film that I cross-processed. I think that was roughly the time Lomo LC-A's were tough to find because the LC-A+ wasn’t available.

Credits: mcgloin

I have bags of film from those early days that I never developed that I started double exposing. Some I sent to other people as film swaps, some I developed normally. I plan to go through it all one way or the other … it’s like 200 rolls of film or something. Later when I lived in NYC I was always broke or just getting by so I really didn’t practice as much film photography as I would have liked.

Credits: mcgloin

I never stopped shooting film, I never stopped experimenting, I never stopped using silly cameras. I had a silver Action Sampler a million years ago but never really used it much. I saw Lomography is still selling the original clear Action Samplers, so I recently bought one. I pre-ordered LomoChrome Turquoise and have used the other LomoChrome films, I’ve been cross-processing film on and off for ages. I have a ton of Lomography books (next to my equally large collection of Burning Man books).

Credits: mcgloin

A lot of your photos were taken around Portland. What do you love about this city? Are there any particular areas that you keep coming back to for photography?

Portland is a lovely small city, albeit it is not without its challenges like anywhere else. I love how I can leave my downtown apartment and within a few minutes be in the largest urban forest in the U.S., Forest Park, for a fun bike ride.

Credits: mcgloin

I love how easy it is to find new and used photography supplies, equipment and cameras at places like Blue Moon Camera or even Pro Photo Supply. I love that I can get anything photographic repaired locally. I love how Portland has a good public transit system that includes streetcars, regional light rail, buses, an areal tram, in addition to having many walkable neighborhoods. My wife and I don’t have a car, and we’re pretty happy with that because we don’t need it.

I love that Portland has the Cat Rapper and the Unipiper. I love that I can easily walk, ride my bike or take a streetcar to Blue Sky Gallery, which has photography exhibition spaces, local work on display, and a library of photography books that doesn’t quit. Portland has parks, big trees, a peculiar amount of NYC-style pizza places, some legit NYC-style delis plus a galaxy of diners, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and food carts. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some keto restaurants, whatever that is.

I love the multitudes of bike shops that serve specific niches — track bikes, cargo bikes, roadie shops, a mountain bike shop, used bike shops, community shops — and bike riders in general. I love the different bike communities and bike cultures and bike events.

Credits: mcgloin

During the pandemic, I’ve been focusing on exploring off-pavement and natural parts of the city. I created a 40-mile bike route (it can also be cut in half easily) that is about half off-pavement and all within Portland so I have a lot of pictures of unpaved streets and footpaths; bike events also. I’ve been trying to catch up with getting writing from notebooks onto my blog and website in addition to revisiting old photography work to look at it with fresh eyes.

Credits: mcgloin

I keep coming back to introspective and collaborative projects that are out of my comfort zone. I worked on some photography projects with a local photographer and film swaps with a Lomographer from Romania, @OFCHANCEANDCHOICE. I want to continue doing film swaps and start exploring more portraiture. I’d love to do film swaps where both sets of images are people, nude or otherwise, self-portraits or other people.

I’ve always wondered about what locals thought of the satirical show, Portlandia. It depicted the city as a melting pot for eccentric hipsters—what are your thoughts? Was it accurate in some aspects?

I tried to watch an episode or two when it first came out, but I find Fred Armisen is painfully tedious. I couldn’t get through an entire episode, but I do have to admit some of the skits are funny in small doses. Portland people like to congregate in doorways for some damn reason — I wonder if that’s in the show. Grimm was set here and was fun to watch, and as a little bonus, you can see my apartment building in the opening sequence.

How would you introduce Portland to someone who has never been there before?

Portland is a small city in the Pacific Northwest and Cascadian bioregion and has a Mediterranean climate. Warm, dry summers that cool down quickly once the sun sets (which is about 10 or 10:30 pm). Winters are cool and wet, it seldom goes below freezing and snow is unfortunately unusual. We’re actually in a rain shadow and it doesn’t rain anywhere near as much as people think it does. There are no bugs or humidity; window screens are uncommon and many older houses don’t have air conditioning.

Portlanders don’t play around with social justice and generally protest peacefully, often with whimsy and humor. Don’t believe a lot of what you may have seen in the news media in the last few years.

Credits: mcgloin

It’s OK to talk to strangers here and people are generally friendly. Portlanders celebrate and appreciate quirkiness. You’ll see all kinds of rad street art everywhere, there are no shortage of farmers markets — including one of the biggest in the nation, there are many locally-owned businesses also. If you like live music, you’re all set. If you’re here in the summer make sure to check out Pedalpalooza, the summer-long (formerly monthlong) bike festival which includes bike shenaniganery and social rides. Most of the naked bikes rides, including the World Naked Bike Ride (pre-pandemic the ride drew about 10,000 riders) happen during Pedalpalooza. Speaking of being au natural outside, there are two nude beaches just outside of Portland.

Credits: mcgloin

During the winter, we have a large jazz festival with performances all over town in small venues. The Portland Winter Lights Festival is coming up soon and it promises to illuminate the dark February nights with mind-blowing art.

Bring money for books, because Powell’s Books, which is a locally owned independent bookstore, will draw you in. There’s no shortage of bookstores all over Portland that caters to everything. There may be as many record stores like bookstores, and comic book shops aren’t too far behind. Portland has wonderfully weird museums but also the Portland Art Museum and Portland Historical Society. Plus the Pacific coast is about an hour drive west over the Coastal Range, but if you go east you’ll arrive in high desert.

Want to take us Around the World in Analogue? Drop a line to with the subject Around the World in Analogue and share your unforgettable travels with the rest of the community! Read the guidelines here.

written by shhquiet on 2022-02-23 #around-the-world #portland #around-the-world-in-analogue


  1. ofchanceandchoice
    ofchanceandchoice ·

    Lovely reading this. Thanks for playing with me, @mcgloin

  2. leisuresuit
    leisuresuit ·


  3. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @ofchanceandchoice Hell yea! You're an awesome Lomo collaborator.

  4. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    I remember when Lomography had their typeface to download and use in design projects (yes, I did that) and when they used to have LomoLympics. Remember the 1-bit random photos Lomography would send to cell phones long before smartphones? That was a hoot.

    Everyone should get the giant Lomography books "LC-A The Greatest Camera Ever Made" (or something like that, it's a HUGE yellow book) and "Don't Think Just Shoot." Both do a wonderful job of introducing — but not really explaining, sort of, in a good way — Lomography's history and ideology.

  5. nonspecificscientific
    nonspecificscientific ·

    Portland is a fun city. I spent many summer vacations just west of Portland, so it was always fun to go into the city. Plus basically every band I listen to makes at least one stop in Portland every time they tour. Haha

  6. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Wow since 2002 👍

  7. jess_spd_
    jess_spd_ ·

    thanks for sharing your story 🤩💓

  8. jkruse
    jkruse ·

    Sunsets at 10:30? In a rain shadow? No bugs or humidity? I’ve spent most of my adult life in Portland, that is just not true. Latest the sun sets here is 9:03. The rain shadow is on the other side of the Cascades, Portland gets about 36 inches of rain a year. We have bugs for sure, and our humidity comes in the cooler seasons, indoor mold is a real problem and many people have dehumidifiers. Plus, air conditioning is getting to be more of a necessity due to climate change, we had a heatwave last year that killed 96 people.

  9. pjc
    pjc ·

    Great story, and great meeting you at the Pro Photo Lomo Metropolis Photowalk! We should do that more often!

  10. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @pjc Thanks and yes!

  11. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @jkruse OK, troll, lighten up. Lomography is about community and fun, and not your inaccurate whiny bullshit. Lomography is fun bullshit :)

    Since you didn't cite your sources I'm going to assume you're probably just lonely and feel the need to make shit up or correct an obviously inaccurate feature article on a photo website. I saw one statistic that said 36" of rain a year, which is high for maybe Black Rock Desert or eastern Oregon but low for many other places in the US or Oregon's Pacific coast. It's the same for Portland's relatively low humidity and lack of mosquitos, gnats and other bugs. Yes some places in Portland are wetter than others, some places are more humid. Everywhere on earth has bugs, they're just not as many in Portland as other places, like where I grew up in Connecticut where it's wetter, buggier and more humid. Our relatively low humidity in summer helps make wildfire danger so high. If someone doesn't have heat then they may need a dehumidifier in winter; however, heated buildings generally don't need dehumidifiers. I don't know anyone who has a dehumidifier. Central Texas actually has a black mold problem, not Portland.

    OK, yup, I'm as incorrect with my sunset time as you are; however, astronomical twilight is well after 11 pm, so there's still ambient light away from light pollution. If you spend time outside away from lights you'll see that.

    You're wrong about the Cascades being the only rain shadow. The Coastal Range is the primary rain shadow, which is why it is among the wettest place in the continental US. The Cascades create a secondary rain shadow, which is why eastern Oregon is so dry. There's a wild difference between the Willamette Valley (where Portland is), the Coast Rage and the Pacific coast. There's a difference between the Columbia River in north Portland compared to the Columbia River Gorge to the east; or, the difference in humidity and temperature between north Portland near the river and downtown or other places south of Alameda Ridge.

  12. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @jess_spd_ Thanks! It was fun to give a quick tour of my favorite city.

  13. mcgloin
    mcgloin ·

    @hervinsyah Yup. I've seen a few different versions of Lomography over the years.

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