A little background.
Whiteaker Block Party is a neighborhood event for the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon. This was the 11th year of the block-party. The neighborhood residents and businesses in the hood pull together and volunteer to throw a ten-hour party. Which is more like a music festival than block-party.
I had been approached a few months back by Mick Dägger of the band Dick Dägger to see if I was interested in shooting the Whiteaker Block Party and then he later asked me to manage the photographers. I was excited to volunteer for the job. The word got out that I was working the festival and people I know would come up and be enthusiastic that I was shooting the show. It feels good to know I have fans of your work.
Planning the job.
How do you plan a job like this with two photographers? You have to know the players and the layout of the event you’re shooting. I tried to put a plan together, I had a Google Doc of the bands that needed to be photographed. I planned out different routes between stages where I could get to a good vantage point to photograph the attendees, vendors and volunteers. That was the plan at least. I started my planning process weeks in advance. I needed to prepare and purchase any supplies necessary for the event. I worked on a project a month earlier and already bought extra batteries and memory cards, so I was well equipped in that area. I only brought one too many lenses, which is pretty good for me. I brought a mono-pod and never used it and I didn’t bring a tripod and didn’t miss not having it.
When Tyrone Russ (the other photographer) and I arrived on location at 09:45 we re-evaluated our plan. We decided on a new plan; abandon the orginal plan. New plan: Shoot everything and anything interesting.
How was the music?
The music was amazing. Just amazing. Almost all local acts. There is such a deep talent pool of musicians in this place. It is a little ridiculous. There really was music for everybody, and every musical taste. I just wish the schedules were staggered a little better, but with eleven stages I could see that being difficult. There were a lot of acts that I like that I had never heard of, but I really enjoyed seeing. There were several stages, I couldn’t get to because things were so to tight.
It’s not just about the music.
There was a lot going on the at block-party, more than just music. There were street performers and arts and crafts for the kids and just a bunch of neighbors hanging out together, playing out with their dogs and children. I think I saw some people having a beer together. This event is nothing like I’ve ever been too. Ferry Festa in Dobbs Ferry and Ferrogosto in the Bronx are a lot like a big block-parties, but hanging out in the Whit with these clowns was the highlight of my time in Eugene.
I left at 10:15pm and I woke up at 10:15 the next morning, I walked down to the zone and if I didn’t see the party for myself, I probably would have assumed that it didn’t happen. Man, the cleanup crew really did a great job.
Tom is a photographer, writer, blogger, video maker and all-around image creator. Lover of all things analogue.