Everyone invited for Port Townsend's community portrait

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND­­—The next Port Townsend family portrait, where everyone in town is invited to participate in a moment-in-time crowd shot, will take place March 23.

Participants are asked to gather at 9:30 a.m. at Pope Marine Park at the corner of Water Street and Madison Street, with the picture to be taken about 9:45 a.m.

The first community portrait was made in 1985, with a new picture taken about every three years.

This year's will be the 11th in a series that has featured the Jefferson County Courthouse, Port Townsend City Hall and Aldrich's Market, among other locations.

“We always choose a location that has recently been rejuvenated,” said Printery owner Mike Kenna, who's participated in producing all the community portraits.

“The first picture was taken at the Mt. Baker Block building, which had then reopened, and this year we are using the new common area, where a lot has changed.”

The last portrait was taken in November 2010 and coincided with the maiden voyage of the MV Chetzemoka.

About 700 people stood on the ferry dock in front of the new vessel.

Kenna said he expects the same number of people to participate this year.

A lot has changed since the first portrait, which was shot on black-and-white film and could be made available only weeks later to the public.

The Port Townsend Main Street program, which is managing the event, will take a test shot weeks before the event is scheduled to take place.

The test will be used to design the poster and add type and graphics.

Once the actual shot is taken, it will be “slipped right in,” Kenna said.

The finished posters will be printed and made available at around 1 p.m. that afternoon, he said.

Photographer David Conklin, who also shot the 2010 picture, will take the portrait from a crane supplied by East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.

The streets will be closed a short time, said Main Street Executive Director Mari Mullen.

“These usually go pretty quickly,” she said of the photo shoots.

The event also will coincide with the Victorian Heritage Festival, where participants are invited to wear a Victorian or Steam Punk-inspired costume.

Portrait participants will gather around the Salish Sea Circle, a sculpture unveiled in 2011, and the crowd will undoubtedly spill over into the newly constructed public plaza.

The camera will be aimed toward the water, and the Schooner Adventuress is planning a “sail by” when the picture is taken.

The event sponsor is Puget Sound Energy.

Mullen said the morning shoot is scheduled earlier than in past years, but the juxtaposition with the Victorian Festival favors the morning time frame.

“We want it to be early so local merchants can be in the picture,” Mullen said.

“And once the picture is taken, we want people to participate in the Victorian Festival.”

Mullen said many other towns across the country have imitated the community portrait idea.

“It's a fun community event,” Mullen said. “It's good news for everyone.”

Kenna said participants in this particular family portrait seem to be better behaved than the ones taken at private homes.

“Whenever you take a family picture, there is always someone who isn't cooperating — they aren't smiling or they have their eyes closed,” he said.

“With the Port Townsend family portraits, everyone is always looking up at the camera, smiling, at the same time.”

About 1,000 posters will be printed and will be sold for $10 each.

The posters will be available at the Printery, 632 Tyler St., and proceeds will benefit the Main Street Program.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 24. 2013 6:18PM
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