Jordan Raye is a Portland based photographer. I've known her since college, when she and I met in the dorms at UC Santa Cruz. Eventually we were housemates, and would take off on the weekends to photograph each other at abandoned structures and desert dunes. We were never afraid to get naked and never afraid to get dirty. She has deeply inspired our work and lives, so we decided to pop over to her house to have a little chat about her aspirations and inspirations...
Jordan Raye is a badass, plain n simple. She was gifted her first camera, a polaroid - 600 film, by her grandma when she was 7 years old. It was her favorite toy because it was instant, and she could see her creations right away. She kept photographing with disposables throughout her childhood, until one day she was photographing her family vacation with her Dad's big-time digital camera. Her family told her she had "the eye", and from then on she was dedicated. She got her own digital cameras and started photographing her friend’s bands. Then we met in college, and shit got crazy.
It was a creative and wild whirlwind. We saw many sunrises, after long nights of art making with endless wine and spliffs. We howled under the moonlight and photographed with flashlights in fields. We got stick-and-poked in the Mojave desert on our photo class field trip, while drinkin' whiskey out of the bottle.
Jordan is an adventurous babe, one who likes to explore for her shoots and find charged spaces. She seeks out abandoned buildings that were once businesses, or that used to house families and now remain empty. She claims there's a specific feeling to spaces like that – something in the air. It's almost as if she's actively creating the memories herself. The contrast of the female body and decay also draws her to work in these environments. She likes the juxtaposition of something stark next to living flesh.
Jordan studied anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and wrote her thesis on Death and Photography, dipping deep into conversations about death rites and the soul. Because of her work in anthropology, she has always been interested in studying and photographing people, especially those in her tight sphere. She says she brings her camera with her everywhere so she can capture moments in the day-to-day, of those who are close to her. She shoots 35mm, large format, medium format, all film. An ongoing project she has been working on is photographing the Florida Room, a classic dive bar in Portland. They have a marquee that is always cycling important quotes and world events, wittily and powerfully. She's been photographing this sign for the past year, seasonally, so that some are in the rain, sunshine, snow, etc. They are surprisingly touching, and beautiful little snippets of culture.
Her work is poignant and timeless, capturing the souls of the creatures and spaces she encounters. You can see some examples of her work below as well as on her sites.
This interview was conducted by The Dream Queens.
Written by Haley Jensen.
Photography and styling by The Dream Queens.