Stumptown shooter stalks the sexy and the strange

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An eye for the outlandish

The Portland Zombie Walk and similar events give photographer Luke Olsen a chance to stretch beyond his normal studio work.

Cardiac

Olsen's notes for Cardiac: "Strobist: 550ex and Vivitar 285 with a red gel placed in the boxes. WL1600 with a strip bank to the left and above camera. Triggered via pocket wizards."

Portland Zombie Walk

Organizers boast that the 2010 Portland Zombie Walk drew 3,000 undead.

Zombie Lessons

Olsen's notes for Zombie Lessons: "A shot of Ariel consulting a tome of the undead inside the Zombie Apocalypse at the Scream at the Beach.

"Strobist: 550ex in strip bank at camera right and in front of model. 580exII on floor behind model and aimed at wall. Triggered via pocket wizards."

Makeup artist: Matt Huntley

Portland Zombie Walk

The annual event only began filing or permits in 2011 after a record turnout the year before.

Lucy Stone

Olsen's notes for Lucy Stone: "Strobist: WL1600 in strip bank at left of camera. Triggered via pocket wizards."

Portland Zombie Walk

"I try not to be too involved with posing as I like to see what they bring to the table," says Olsen. "That said, I will shift their pose if they are doing something I don’t want."

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Waiting

Olsen's notes for Waiting: "More color infrared."

Portland Zombie Walk

"I was never one for jumping off bridges and things but I did pelt a girl in a hazmat suit with eggs for a photo shoot," Olsen says. "I still don’t find that crazy."

Toxic

The hazmat suit comes in handy for Toxic.

Portland Zombie Walk

"Like an addiction, I always want to do more photography," says Olsen. "I'm definitely in that camp that enjoys the journey with my only end-goal to see better."

Mermaid

Olsen's notes on Mermaid: "Shortly after she went onto the tire she asked me to make her into a mermaid.

"Strobist (on model and tire only): WL1600 in beauty dish above and right, WL1600 in strip bank to left. Both triggered by pocket wizards."

Portland Zombie Walk

"Photography kind of crept up on me as the years progressed," says Olsen. "There was no magical darkroom moment when I saw an image being developed and thought, 'I want to do this forever.'"

Fez

Olsen's notes on Fez: "Strobist: WL1600 in strip bank for fill behind and slightly to the left. WL1600 in soft box in room right of model. Both triggered via pocket wizards."

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Portland Zombie Walk

"I’m always with a camera, and usually with more than one camera, ready to shoot at all the Portland events I attend," says Olsen.

Grab a camera when the zombies come. They won’t eat your brains — they’ll strike a pose.

It’s a trick photographer Luke Olsen learned when he was surrounded on the streets of his hometown. His shots from the Portland Zombie Walk showcase the lean and mean side of his stylish but macabre portraiture.

The organized chaos of events like the zombie walk offers comic relief from formal photography sessions filled with intricate lighting, staging and models. Any opportunity to capture inspired lunacy is technically practice, but Olsen gravitates toward flash mobs to cut loose with his camera-wielding compatriots. He’s thrown himself into the thick of SantaCon, the infamous alcohol-fueled rampage that grew from absurdist San Francisco street theater into a national headache. The moribund Portland Urban Iditarod, where teams of costumed runners dragged tricked-out shopping carts from bar to bar, has also been shutter fodder.

“It’s a great deal of fun to wander into a large event with a group of friends, shoot the event and reconvene later to see what everyone got,” says Olsen. “It’s like The Bang Bang Club, just 100 percent less deadly.”

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Subscribe to The CultCast now on iTunes to download our newest episode, or easily stream new and previous episodes via Apple’s free Podcasts App.

Show notes up next!

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