K.B. Dixon


Zoom: Portland Pride goes virtual

As the festival and parade gear up for an online celebration, K.B. Dixon gives a glimpse in photos of pre-pandemic Pride parades past


As with so many signature productions this year, Portland Pride’s Waterfront Festival and Parade has been radically reimagined. The salute to sex, civil rights, and sequins will appear via Zoom and in streaming videos of festivals past. For a schedule of the revelry I refer you to Pride Northwest’s new website, which houses a calendar of virtual events beginning Friday, June 12, and continuing through June 19.

Similarly, the photographs collected here are from previous celebrations—celebrations that presented a special challenge to the black-and-white photographer who, armed with only humble midtones, was obliged to face off against the full spectrum of saturated color—and then some.

Motorcycle, 2017


Ren Faire: Same time, next year

A historic plague knocks the Renaissance Faire off its horse. K.B. Dixon pictures last year's gathering as the bards and jugglers look ahead.


“April is the cruelest month,” said T.S. Eliot. This year we have had several Aprils, and we are poised to have several more. June, for instance. It is one of the busiest months in Oregon for festivals and fairs, and this year it is one of those most obviously affected by the pandemic. Together with the Rose Festival and Portland Pride’s Waterfront Festival and Parade, the extravagant costume party that is the Oregon Renaissance Faire has been “postponed” (the euphemism du jour for “cancelled”).

The photos collected here are from last year’s trip through the medieval looking-glass. The knights, dragons, jugglers, magicians, artisans, pixies, bards, and musicians are scheduled to return to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby on June 5-6 & 12-13, 2021; find details here.

Tournament, 2019


Rose Festival: A fond look back

This year's big parades and carnival are gone with the pandemic wind. As scaled-back "Parading in Place" begins, we salute the way it was.


A Rose Festival by any other name may not smell quite so sweet, but this abbreviated retrospective, this “Virtual Rose Festival,” will have to do this year as Portland’s annual celebration of the genus rosa has, like so many other essential celebrations, wilted in the heat of this global pandemic. In place of parading there is parading in place. The photographs here are collected from past years of sporadic attendance, and are offered as a reminder of what many may be missing today, but almost certainly will be enjoying again in the not too distant future.

This year’s festival, the 113th, was to have opened on Friday, May, 22, and continued through June 7, complete with its showcase parades: The Starlight Parade, the Junior Parade, and the culminating Grand Floral Parade. Holding their place will be the Rose Festival’s Parading in Place: Check the link for details.

2013: Hitched


Interview in a Time of Sequestration

A Photographer Talks to Himself About Shadows and the Mysteries of Black & White


It seems much of your work is focused on the cultural life of your city and state?

Yes, it is. To paraphrase that much revered Southern snake-charmer, William Faulkner, I discovered my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth photographing and that I would probably never live long enough to exhaust it.

So why black and white?

When I am obliged to talk about my photography—which isn’t that often, thankfully—I almost always start off with a discussion of my antediluvian preference for black and white. I do this because the question “Why black and white” is almost always the first one asked in the Q&As that invariably follow these talks, and I am hoping to preempt it, to cut it off at the pass as they say in Cowboy, because more often than not it is asked with an antagonizing hint of disapproval. It is a question that used to catch me by surprise. It doesn’t any more. My answer to it is always short. Black and white are for me—as they were for the famously crusty Robert Frank—the colors of photography.

Omar El Akkad, Writer, 2019.

Where Frank saw black and white as symbolizing hope and despair, I see them as augmenting our perception of form and content. Color, as we commonly think of it, is information. Lots of it. Black and white is an abstraction. When you subtract color you focus attention on form and content—on graphic order and psychological subtlety. For me black and white simply has a greater emotional and intellectual impact.


Still Life in a Time of Sequestration, Part 2

As we isolate ourselves from ordinary life, photographer K.B. Dixon finds fresh beauty in the splendid solitude of ordinary things at home


It has been a month and a half and I am still here sequestered, hiding from an angry-looking microbe. The people I am sequestered with are still not interested in being photographed, and the places I am sequestered in still remain private rather than public—so, as a photographer trying to stay photographically fit, I am obliged to continue focusing my attention on the mystery and charm of “things.” For instance, yesterday morning I discovered—as if for the first time—the raw materials of my breakfast. Today it was a pair of bookends that, when on the job, keep a heavy, three-volume set of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire standing upright on a chest of drawers. (Note to self: Consider re-reading. Somehow the time seems right.)

EGGS, 2020


Photo First: An Open-air Museum

With the "real" museum spaces shut down, K.B. Dixon and his camera tour Portland's many murals and discover a free exhibit on the streets


The local galleries are closed, the Art Museum is closed, but the streets of Portland are open and there is plenty to see thanks to the guild of talented muralists among us. Using the exterior walls of every sort of building, they have over the years cobbled together a sort of open-air museum—one you can visit today from the contagion-free confines of your car. (All photographs are from 2020)


Artist: Paola Delfin


Photo First: Running on Empty

As the pandemic turns Portland's center into a ghost town, a paean to the rhythm that has always given the city streets a time of solitude


The governor’s stay-at-home order has recently emptied the streets of Portland, but this sort of vacancy is not something new. The streets have been emptied before—not in response to a national emergency, but as part of the city’s circadian rhythm, the natural ebb and flow of its normally industrious population. Momentarily abandoned, perhaps, but not forsaken. By turns eerie, mysterious, ominous, and beautiful.