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Robbie McClaran February 2, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

From the project Hot Rod and Betties. Portland Oregon 2014

Robbie McClaran (b.1955) is a documentary photographer based in Portland Oregon. His work focuses on the American people and landscape. Robbie began his study in photography in 1975 at the Center for Photographic Studies with C.J. Pressma, and continued at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester NY, where he studied with Nathan Lyons. His commissioned work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Smithsonian, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Bloomberg and Forbes. The prints from his controversial 1996 book project, Angry White Men, are in the permanent collection of the University of Oregon. His personal work has been featured in Plazm, Photo District News, The Photo Review, ID Design, and has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, American Photography, and Communication Arts. Robbie is represented by Redux Pictures.

About the Photograph:

“Most of my recent personal work has been large or medium format black & white film based projects that involved traveling to other parts of the country. I began to think about working closer to home on a series of short stories, one or two day projects working with a small camera in color. The first of these was on Hot Rod culture and I began with the Portland Roadster show. My idea was to juxtapose images of the cars with the people who are the car builders, collectors and fans. I’ve always had a little bit of gear head in me so not only did the show present a wonderfully colorful opportunity, it was a lot of fun.”

“Hot Rod culture is unapologetically macho and the women who are part of it are known as Betties. In an age of increasing concern over the impact of the automobile on the environment, hot rod culture continues to celebrate speed, chrome, oil, rubber and steel. It is quintessentially American for better or worse. The idea was to shoot fast and loose, not quite shoot from the hip but almost. So there’s a high failure rate working that way. But you also get these wonderful moments that would otherwise escape with a more deliberate approach. This image of the red haired young woman was made in the method described above, a fleeting moment in passing. So I was particularly pleased to see the resulting image.”