Guestrooms + Corridors

Gary Wilson, Photographer

Gary Wilson photography
Gary Wilson photography
Etched Mirror

Gary Wilson is a native Portlander who has been a professional photographer all his adult life. He says that the light and atmosphere of the city and its rivers has been his primary inspiration. He feels privileged during the course of making his living to be witness to Portland's many visual treasures, in particular the predawn fog and play of light on the Willamette and the shapes of its bridges. About the collection of photographs at The Paramount he says: 

" What Portlander hasn't wondered about the workings of Portland's bridges while on their daily commute or while parked waiting for the Hawthorne, the Morrison, the Burnside, the Broadway or the Steel to transform themselves to acccommodate the Willamette's river traffic? I grew up in Portland with just such a fascination. I was pretty certain that the experience of being in bridge's motor room or on its upper structures would be a powerful experience. 

Acquiring permission to get atop and inside all the restricted areas within downtown Portland's movable bridges takes time and comes with an awareness of the bureaucratic process. This process, of course, differs with each of Portland's movable bridges depending on the jurisdictional authority. In all cases, my entree to that world was facilitated by my friend, Mike Beard who has spent decades working with many of the key engineers, bridge designers and planners, not only in Portland, but throughout the United States. 

I believe that the personality, as I like to call it, of each bridge is primarily determined by its age, by its movable structure types, by the different traffic it carries, and by how it coordinates with the downtown and its arterials. For instance, the hundred year old, Union Pacific built Steel Bridge carries railroad traffic and now Max, Portland's Light Rail, in addition to car, bus, truck, bike and pedestrian traffic. Separately and together each of these modes of transportation is particularly felt when on top of the bridge, high above the traffic beds where vibrations are viscerally and loudly conducted throughout its superstructure. My strongest and most reverent impressions, when photographing these bridges, are of a sentient and ever-aging creature laboring to fulfill the commands of its creators; creators who had no way to imagine today's increasing traffic demands. in all cases, I was invariably humbled to serve as an intimate witness."