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Snowy Portland street (Pic: Andrew McClees)
A Portland street in the s now (Pic: Andrew McClees)

By Andrew McClees

My name is Andrew D McClees (@andrewdmcclees on instagram), and I also run the photography website and publishing company frozenwaste.land or (@frozenwaste.land). I was born and raised in Maine. Most of my childhood and teen years were spent in and around Portland and Lewiston, Maine. Maine is a difficult, and complicated place, but I’m proud to call it my home, give or take Paul LePage (I guess he’s a Florida Man now).

The state’s default weather – frozen – is where I got the idea to call my website “frozenwaste.land.” Today, we’re gonna focus on Portland, which is the largest city in the state (I’m a bit loathe to use the term “city”) I’ve been shooting the area on and off for more than 10 years.

For those not in the know, Portland is one of the oldest cities in New England, and by extension the US. One would think there’d be more old colonial architecture, but the city burnt to the ground, twice (NB: I later read up that it had at least two other severe fires). This became such a meme that the city’s symbol is a Phoenix.

There’s a small neighbourhood (read: tourist district) made of older buildings, creatively titled the Old Port. I don’t spend much time there, and likewise, neither do a whole lot of locals –we’ll get back to that later. I’ve slapped together a quick overview of the central peninsula (ie “Portland propper”). And of course included a few other bonus shots of iconic Portland things, that may not be quite as iconic to the tourists.

About the camera: I’m a lifelong Minolta Shooter – my first camera was a Minolta X-GM I inherited from my grandfather when I was 14. That camera died, or I just got a case of GAS for a Minolta XD-11 (the XG-M is for sure dead now). I’ve had five XD-11s now (great cameras, but not exactly invincible) for the last five to six years. If you’re familiar with the Leica/Minolta Partnership, the XD-11 is essentially a Leica R4/5, but smaller, and without the Leica R mount.

Minolta XD-11 (Pic: Camerafiend/Wikimedia Commons)
The Minolta XD-11 (Pic: Camerafiend/Wikimedia Commons)

As far as SLRs go, it’s about as sleek, and inconspicuous as they come, especially if you can nab it in the black finish (which Leica then proceeded to use on every following camera), and it has the significant advantage of the buttery smooth vertical electronic shutter.

At this point the Minolta XD-11 is my ride-or-die or camera.

I’m a big proponent of a one-camera-one-lens set ups for daily shooting/travel, because I’d rather focus on being out and in the moment — for a long time I shot exclusively the Minolta 50mm f/1.4 MC-PG-x, but lately I’ve swapped over to the MD-x W-Rokkor 35mm f/1.8. After a small (two-week) adjustment period, I’ve found that the 35mm is a much better fit for most of my daily shooting.

Pedestrians on a Portland street (Pic: Andrew McClees)
Central Portland (Pic: Andrew McClees)

I actually picked the 35mm up from my favourite photography store, which is also in Portland. I’m going to respectfully decline to name it so that y’all carpetbaggers from out-of-state don’t go and finish picking it over before I do.

Carpetbaggers have long been a problem here. When I was growing up, it was mostly tourists – who spend a lot of time in or around the Old Port. Tourists at least have the decency to leave after their visit – though I’d vastly prefer it if they didn’t come en-masse in giant cruise ships and overrun the city. I’d also prefer it if Maine’s (and Portland’s) largest economy wasn’t tourism (though Northeastern University building a $100m dollar research facility may put a dent in that).

More pernicious to the city itself is the steady stream of Boston and New York residents moving north and buying up all the (formerly) reasonably priced real estate in the city, especially on the peninsula, and gentrifying out the natives. Worst of all, is that many of the New Yorkers or Bostonites don’t even bother to live in Portland, they keep good and central housing as a secondary or vacation home.

Portland gull (Pic: Andrew McClees)

Anyway, that’s enough out of me on the politics. Lemme walk y’all through the photos, and speak on them/what you’re looking at:

So, to me, one of the most iconic, most Portland things we all take for granted, or just stop thinking about is the Baked Bean factory looking out onto Casco Bay, with the busted up/out-of-work train bridge. I don’t know why, but this is like key Portland, Maine to me. On paper, not anything particularly aesthetically pleasing. I’ve also included Portland Headlight – for my money, probably the most photographed single thing in Maine, and perhaps the most over-shot – but I’m including it here, because you can’t really make a list of “Portland” stuff without it.

Portland headlight (Pic: Andrew McClees)
Portland Headlight in the rain (Pic: Andrew McClees)

I was lucky enough to be in town to capture a giant cruise ship – which likely is larger than any building in the city itself. Beyond that, I’ve also included Portland’s central Longfellow Square, a view into the Old Port, City Hall. Some of the nicer Victorian houses on the East End, that look out onto Casco Bay. A view down Congress Street in a blizzard. Longfellow Square. And to finish with that “off peninsula look” I’ve included an empty lot near my home, where me and a homie once tagged a bunch of buildings that aren’t there anymore.

Cruise ship at dock (Pic: Andrew McClees)
A cruise ship docked in Portland (Pic: Andrew McClees)

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Jeroen van Weert
Jeroen van Weert
2 years ago

I am happy to see another episode of ATWI80C! It is nice to see some “bad weather” photography as well, but as the Norwegians say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. I’ve never been in Portland, but you made a nice overview of this place 🙂

Brian F
Brian F
2 years ago

I agree with you on the b and m baked bean company being so iconic, to me its all about that molasses smell.