Portland urban landscapes

Horatio Law’s Urban Studies

When the Portland artist walks around the city, he takes his iPhone camera with him. With it, he creates a portrait of a cityscape in flux.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A few months ago we started following Portland artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law’s “Urban Studies” series on his Instagram and Facebook accounts. Ambling around the city, he’s created and shared roughly 1,400 images of Portland as observed from the streets. They make up a fascinating collective portrait of Portland as a lived-in, ever-evolving architectural space. We don’t see many people in these photos, but we see evidence of their presence everywhere: The images convey a sense of stillness, but with marks of action either recent or imminent. And almost inevitably, Law frames his scenes in ways that help us see things we might otherwise not have noticed.

We asked him if he’d answer a few questions about the project and create a small portfolio of his Urban Studies photographs to share. Here’s what he gave us. – Bob Hicks


Tell us how you got started on this series. Did you know it was going to become a series, or did it evolve into that? How many photos does it include now?

Urban Studies was actually a byproduct of trying to entertain myself while performing my daily walking exercise by photographing my surroundings and the places I passed through during my five-mile walk every other day. No, I did not intend them to become a series, but when I tried to put a framework around these seemingly random snapshots, the title “Urban Studies” took hold. Suddenly, grouping these snapshots under this title made sense, and it in turn motivated me to do more and post these photographs on social media as a group. So far, I have posted almost 1,400 entries on Instagram and Facebook.

Urban Studies #947: Tricycle vs. ?. North Williams Street District.

How do you decide which images to include? When you go out, are you looking for something in particular, or just waiting for something to hit you?