Over 4,000 photos later, Feast Portland is officially over for the year. It was an amazing four days of seeing all of my favorite people in Portland’s food community, tasting incredible food and drink, going to afterparty followed by afterparty, and photographing it all for the Feast team.
I’ve talked with several people about how the festival is a very different experience for me than most. Given that I need two hands to photograph, I tend not to eat and drink much. The shot list is extensive and I logged about 5 miles a day jetting around the festival grounds at ‘80s vs ‘90s, the Tillamook afterparty, the Grand Tasting on Friday and Saturday, Night Market, Smoked, and Brunch Village. And, when the last after party wraps, the other photographers and I head out to cull and edit our 10 favorite images of the day, waking up a few hours later to do it all over again.
It’s a marathon, and I love every minute of it.
There were 10 things that stood out to me above all. And, given the different sort of experience that I have, they aren’t your typical favorite bites or best brand activations. But they were my favorite nonetheless.
1. Tea leaf reading. At the Thursday night afterparty and Sunday’s Brunch Village, Smith Tea offered tea leaf readings. The line on Thursday was too long and I had more work to do, but on Sunday the line was shorter and sweet Frances Dyer from Little Green Pickle let me skip ahead a spot. The reading meant so much and the reader was so spot on that it brought me to tears. The words she shared were so encouraging and the experience so unexpected, it was undoubtedly my favorite moment of the weekend.
2. Scissor lifts. Event photography is intense, but one of the best parts of it has to be the scissor lifts. First, the team at Fuller Events is amazing and I have a blast working with them each year. At the main events, we coordinate a time to get aerial overview photos of the festival. The moment I get to step away from the bustle and rise up into the air is always so calming. I love the perspective it provides (literally and figuratively) and the sweet moment it gives the team to pause amidst the bustle of the festival.
3. Ping Pong at Party at Steve’s House. The Saturday night afterparty at a warehouse in NoPo was such a blast, not least because of the ping pong tables. I love ping pong and may have bragged to one or two people that I was pretty good. That didn’t show at all that evening (I blame the colored lights, fatigue, and alcohol), but I still loved it. I ended up leaving the party early to go to another afterparty, and really wish I had stayed for another round or two.
4. The crew. The people I have the opportunity to work with at Feast are so top notch. First off, Elizabeth and Jannie, who oversee the creative team, give that perfect mix of direction and freedom that I thrive on. Second, the other staff photographers, Alan and Aubrie, as well as the video crew. They are such a blast to work with and we feed off the energy and creativity of each other. We feel like such a great team and encourage each other on in our work. There isn’t an ounce of competition and it feels awesome.
5. Tina and Christina. Two fourth year festival attendees that I met on the second day who were hilarious, kind, and so enthusiastic about everything Feast. I ended up seeing them at pretty much every event and afterparty. More generally, I have such a great time interacting with the festival attendees. It wouldn’t be the same experience without all the people who eagerly pose for me or stop me to say hello because they’ve seen my photography. I have incredible conversations in the blink of an eye and moments of genuine connection with people I may never see again. Or at least not for another year.
6. Noah and Kate dancing. There was so much dancing at Feast this year! It all started with the incredible music at ‘80s vs ‘90s on Thursday and continued at the Tillamook afterparty that evening. I’ve had the opportunity to work with both Noah (of Order of Operations) and Kate (of Lauretta Jean’s) individually, and witnessing them owning the dance floor was so fun. I love how Feast takes people out of their normal environment of interacting and allows us to all have a blast together.
7. The music. Mentioned above, but it deserve a spot of its own. The music was pretty epic. Can their be a Feast soundtrack please?
8. The Austin crew. I had the opportunity to photograph Hot Luck during its inaugural year and was pleased to discover that some of the team was in Portland for Feast. So fun to hang out with them and remember all the fun we had in Austin.
9. Bonnie Morales’ interview with Bon Appétit. One of my favorite parts of the Grand Tasting is when the BA team interviews chefs in a sort of fireside chat. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Bonnie, Kachka’s chef, for several years and always love getting to hear more about her background, inspiration, and journey of putting Russian food back on the culinary hot list.
10. Nong’s at Brunch Village. At the tail end of the last major event, I hadn’t eaten much. The sweet team at Nong’s was serving a delicious breakfast rice bowl. I’d eaten a bite earlier in the morning and went back to tell them how much I loved it. They ended up making me a heaping bowl and it was so revitalizing. Nong’s can never go wrong, but this was the ultimate satisfaction for a very hungry photographer. The perfect ending to Feast.