I’ve had a love for photography since 4th grade. My subjects have morphed since then, moving from animals to sports games, community events, demonstrations, and more. Studies of photo design, photography classes, and a lot of practice have shaped my work. What still remains the same is a childlike wonder with the power of a camera and images. The stories that photos are able to tell continually amaze me. Here is a compilation of my best photojournalism work from my time at the Clypian. In addition, there are photos I’ve taken posted throughout my portfolio.
Salem Protest Coverage
I have taken 10,000’s of images at protests, both left-wing and right-wing, during my time at the Clypian. Protests are my favorite events to photograph because they are simultaneously fast-paced and deeply emotional.
Thousands of people march across the lawn of the Oregon Capitol Mall during a march in honor of George Floyd. The event marked the 8th consecutive day of protests against police brutality in Salem and drew one of the largest crowds to gather at the Capitol in recent times. The event consisted of dancing, speeches, music, praying, marching, chanting, kneeling, and cheering, with people remaining at the Capitol until the 11 p.m. curfew. Police handed out water, Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast and Police Chief Jerry Moore spoke, and several officers were joined the crowd, a marked difference from a week prior when the streets filled with tear gas. “Today it is not white versus black, it is everybody versus racism, unchecked power and government brutality,” Julianne Jackson, a Black racial justice leader in Oregon, told the crowd in a speech.
A group of people calling for justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality march across the Marion Street bridge as the sun sets. This marks the second night of protests for racial justice in Salem following the killing of George Floyd. The protest remained peaceful until later that night when police in full riot gear, along with a SWAT team vehicle formed a line less than a block away from protesters marching. Salem Police announced that the assembly was “unlawful” and if the protesters did not disperse they would be subject to arrest. When the crowd remained, police used tear gas, stun grenades, and a high frequency siren to disperse the group. This weekend marked the first time in Salem’s history that police have used tear gas on a crowd within city limits.
Lieutenants Jason VanMeter and Treven Upkes of the Salem Police Department [SPD] hold a candle with racial justice protesters honoring George Floyd. Following two days of conflict, protesters and police presented a united front today during Salem’s third consecutive day of protests against police brutality. Earlier in the evening, VanMeter and Upkes knelt with the crowd and read a joint statement from the Salem-Keizer NAACP and SPD. This changing dynamic between police and protesters comes on the heels of a meeting between those two groups, as well as, Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast. People present at the meeting expressed hopes that the police would be more supportive of the protests. Both the Sheriff and SPD’s Deputy Chief shared sentiments that they wanted to create a better dialogue with those protesting and stated that they wanted to allow people to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.
Protesters raise their hands and fists in honor of George Floyd at Salem’s March for Floyd. The event marked the eighth consecutive day of protests in the city following the killing of Floyd. Thousands gathered for the event which drew one of the largest protest crowds to the Oregon Capitol seen in recent years. There were chants, food, speeches, songs, dancers, and a march. “This is our power. This is our show of force,” Gregg Simpson, one of the rally organizers, said about the protest during his speech.
Trenton Wolfskill, from Eugene, Oregon, is arrested by Salem Police at the Oregon State Capitol on Labor Day. Wolfskill was taking part in an alt-right rally that repeatedly clashed with left-wing protesters. He was taken into custody, along with Ty Parker of Durango, Colorado, after the two men chased a lone Black Lives Matter supporter and local college student. The protester was shot with paintballs, after which the two men shoved them to the ground and began punching them. One of the men can be heard on video saying “Get out of here you f**.” Captain Tim Fox of Oregon State Police said that custody of the men was transferred to his agency following their arrests. The men were cited and released several hours later. Wolfskill faces Assault IV charges, a misdemeanor.
In July, federal agents from various agencies marched through the streets of Portland in an effort to “quell” the city’s protests. I documented the protests and federal response almost nightly for two weeks, through photos, videos, and articles.
A Black mom wearing a shirt reading “We Been On The Front Lines” raises her fist in solidarity. The woman stands outside of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, which has been the site of nightly racial justice protests for 60 days. The crowd chants “No Justice! No Peace!” and “Whose Lives Matter? Black Lives Matter.” The protests have recently featured calls to end the presence of federal agents in the city and to protest their involvement in policing the events, after they were ordered into the city by the federal government a couple weeks ago. Later, federal agents came running out of the courthouse, shooting less-lethal munitions, stun grenades, and tear gas, as they do nightly.
Armed federal agents stand right inside the paneled doorway of Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse on the 53rd consecutive day of racial justice protests in the city. Laser light can be seen on one of the agent’s gas masks, pointed from the crowd in an effort to temporarily blind their line of sight. This tactic, along with the shining of high-powered flashlights is quite common. Federal agents stood in the doorways for tens of minutes, not engaging directly with the crowd, as the protesters chanted “ACAB, all cops are bastards” and “Feds go home.” Protesters began to pound on the fence and announcements were made to leave the fence alone, the first time in recent nights that auditory warnings have been used by federal agents. The federal officers rushed out from the doorway a little while later and pointed their less-lethal munitions guns at protesters on the other side of the fence, but returned inside without firing.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent points a loaded, semi-automatic assault rifle at a car driving a block away. Of those federal law enforcement officials armed with assault rifles, most were from ICE. An officer from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service points a less-lethal munitions gun, which shoots pepper balls, at the car as he stands next to the ICE agent. Agents present were from a variety of entities, including BORTAC, ICE’s elite unit used for apprehending international drug traffickers and high profile fugitives. The presence of BORTAC and ICE was extremely unpopular, with many protesters and elected officials questioning their purpose.
Federal agents in military fatigues, gas masks and helmets, armed with less-lethal munitions guns, canisters of gas, and stun grenades, stand outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, the site of nightly protests. Chemical smoke and CS gas fills the air around them. The agents in camouflage come from a variety of government entities, completely unidentifiable except for small patches on their shoulders. They carry a variety of crowd control weapons, including gas, smoke, pepper balls, rubber bullets, and more.
Approximately 30 moms, wearing white, stand with linked arms in the middle of the intersection in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. These moms, a new addition to the Portland protests, are present to show their opposition to the federal occupation and work to de-escalate the situation. The moms led chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Protect Our Kids.” Later that night, they formed a wall between federal agents and protesters. Without warning, officers began to throw concussive grenades at protesters, including at the feet of the moms, one of whom was visibly pregnant. They shared their stories on social media later that night and the next day, inspiring more moms to come out.
Two federal agents in military fatigues, stand in front of a canister spewing CS gas, as they try to disperse the crowd of racial justice and left-wing protesters gathered. Earlier that evening, over 1000 people had gathered in downtown Portland after news went viral about the indiscriminate violence by federal agents resulting in life-threatening injuries. The federal agents were deployed by President Trump in early July to “quell” the city’s nightly protests. Leaked memos show that the agents have no specific crowd control training and lacked the proper training for dealing with mass demonstrations.
Fireworks go off and smoke fills the air on the inside of the reinforced fence around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Water bottles and other debris litters the ground where federal agents stand with less-lethal munitions guns, as well as, tear gas canisters and stun grenades. Protesters worked to topple the fence, as they had in previous nights, but new metal pieces welded to the panels made this unsuccessful. So, they threw objects over the fence at federal agents, who responded by dropping tear gas canisters along the fence line and blowing the gas towards protesters with high powered leaf blowers. Protesters responded by using their own leaf blowers to blow the gas back into the fenced area. The fence remained a scene of high conflict throughout the night, as it has for the past several nights.
A federal agent in military fatigues stands in front of the graffitied pillars of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. He has a can of mace in the front of his vest and is wearing a gas mask. These military fatigues have caused much contention as officials in these largely unidentifiable outfits were picking protesters off the streets in unmarked vans, taking them into custody, and ignoring their Miranda rights when federal reinforcements first arrived in Portland. This practice seems to have halted, but they and their vehicles remain largely anonymous.
Thousands of protesters, the largest crowd in weeks, gather outside of the Multnomah County Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse for the 54th consecutive day of protests in Portland’s downtown area. The crowd chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” while placing their hands in the air. Between chants they listened to speeches, from Black protest leaders. One speaker told the crowd how grateful she was to see so many fellow moms. She said that before she leaves for the protests, her 5 year-old daughter always asks “Are you going to be okay, mommy? Are there going to be cops there? Are you going to come home?” This speech was meet with cheers and applause, particularly from the moms in what has become their iconic color of sunflower yellow. There were hundreds members of the recently formed “Wall of Moms” in the crowd wearing this yellow and the group has caught international attention in the past three days since its formation.
As wildfires raged along the West Coast in fall of 2020 and our skies turned an apocalyptic orange, I embarked on the heart-wrenching journey of documenting them. It was a project that I struggled with emotionally, as the devastation to both our wilderness and people’s homes was so clearly on display.
The town of Sublimity was placed on level two evacuation orders, following the historic and unprecedented windstorm on Labor Day, which caused significant fire growth. All of the residents were encouraged to evacuate and those who remained were told to prepare to leave at any moment. Residents were warned that they may not receive another evacuation message, as rapid fire spread could prohibit the transmission of emergency messages. The skies in town were a smoky orangish, gray, with ash raining down from the fire raging nearby.
The sky behind the Oregon Statehouse paints an apocalyptic scene, as wildfire smoke has turned the air orange for days on end. Oregon’s capital city is only a little over a dozen miles away from where the fires are burning and many of the areas around the capital were placed on level 2 evacuation orders, “Be Set” to leave at a moment’s notice. Within the city the air quality remained “Hazardous” to all groups and it was recommended that people shelter inside unless absolutely necessary to prevent serious health effects.
A man drops off supplies for wildfire evacuees at Salem’s United Way, who was collecting and organizing relief materials. Everything from food and water to bedding and clothes to personal hygiene products has been brought in by community members and organized by United Way volunteers for distribution. Many of those fleeing the fires did not have time to pack up belongings or necessities, due to the historic wind event which caused a rapid spread. The supplies are being given to various organizations and places housing evacuees, both human and animal, such as the Red Cross shelter at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.
Oregon’s 2020 wildfire season scarred over a million acres of land, burning forestland and 4000 homes. In the area between Salem and Mt. Jefferson the Beachie Creek Fire scorched ridge after ridge and tore through several towns. The year marked one of the most destructive fire seasons on record, as Labor Day brought an unprecedented wind event. The Office of the State Fire Marshal said that likely little could have be done to mitigate the burning, as the windstorm led to a fast-moving and extremely hot fire. The fires moved in so quickly that some people received no formal evacuation orders, only escaping the deadly blaze when neighbors knocked on their doors or they saw fire right outside their homes.
When photographers couldn’t attend sporting events, I would occasionally go take photos at the games. It was never a regular project of mine, but I enjoyed the challenge. I find sports photography incredibly unique because a split second can make the difference between a shot that looks good and one that looks awkward.
Noah Ferguson, ’19, pitches during the first round of Oregon School Activities Association [OSAA] baseball playoffs on May 20, 2019. The South Salem Saxon’s varsity baseball team beat the Sheldon Irish 9-4 in the game advancing to round two against the West Salem Titans. The Saxons are ranked fourth in state and were heavily favored to win, despite the Irish handing them a loss previously. Since losing to the Irish earlier in the season, the Saxons have gone 18-3. “[Noah has] worked really hard to become one of the better hitters in our league, but, he’s also become a formidable dude on the mound for us,” Coach Max Price said of Ferguson.
This collection of photos above is only a small portion of the images I have taken during my time at the Clypian, particularly during the protests. After almost every protest, I would post a photo gallery of the event, along with the article. Here are a few of them.
Photos: Portland’s 54th Day Of Protests
Photos: 52nd Day Of Protests At Portland’s Justice Center
Photos: Thousands Rally At Capitol For Black Lives Matter Protest
I have also posted other photo galleries unrelated to the protests. Such as this collection of images from inside Oregon’s old and abandoned state institution for people with intellectual and learning disabilities, where many human rights violations occurred.
Photos: Site Of Oregon’s Inhumane Institution Demolished