On the morning of July 29th I woke up in the usual fashion. I laid in bed and scrolled through my social media feeds to read about the day and respond to this and that. I was flooded with people asking me if I was going to film the protesters. These protesters rappelled off the side of Portland’s St. Johns Bridge, a bridge I’ve shot via drone on several occasions, my first drone video of the bridge having gone viral. So, it made sense that people would expect me to shoot this happening. I am also actively working on ways to use my drone safely for activism work.
I was reluctant to cover the protest due to the amount of news air traffic, and elected to go down only after my frequent spotter Jeremiah Frerichs said he was available. We headed down to a secluded launch spot on the west side of the bridge and started shooting.
The footage gained a lot of attention quickly. The video posted to Facebook got about 33k views in 24 hours, was picked up by several local media outlets and was used to lead Time.com‘s story on the protest.
As I sit typing this, I’m reading of the protesters being broken up by local officials and the Coast Guard and have asked my wife to come home early to take over parenting duty.
She came home early, and I immediately set out amongst rush hour traffic to get to the far end of town, where the St. Johns Bridge is located. I ran a couple lights, swerved through traffic, and arrived at my concealed takeoff spot just in time to catch the Finnica pass under the bridge.
When I first flew into the area, I found the space where the protesters had been removed, and parked the drone in that space. I had thoughts of being one of the first protesters to use a drone for civil disobedience. That thought was quickly wiped away with the thought of my kids seeing me behind bars. I then shot photos and videos and got out of there as soon as possible.
I immediately drove to the OPB Studio and handed over the footage. As a lover of almost all things OPB, I was happy to give them some of the best looking imagery of the protest. They were very appreciative and quickly used the photos and video.
OPB also used the video footage in a quick montage of the events.
The imagery moved onto local print as well. The Willamette Week ran a story on the protest and optioned two photos.
It’s always a good feeling to see your work in print. Especially a double page print. My jaw dropped as soon as I saw it. It’s always interesting how tactile media draws a more emotional connection to the viewer, and event the producer of the content.