An Eerily Empty Photo Walk in Salem, Oregon

I have no words for today’s blog post; I hope to speak to you instead through pictures. But I will introduce this post first. I live in Corvallis, Oregon, and commute to work in Salem, Oregon. Every week, I indulge my love of street photography. It is a reflective exercise, in a way, as I reach back to my roots and revive my passion for photojournalism and documentary photography. Capturing life as it happens; gritty, real, raw and true.

Every Friday when it’s not raining heavily, I have made it a habit to bring my camera with me to work. I walk around the downtown area to document its comings and goings. Salem’s downtown has a bit more opportunities than the downtown area in Corvallis, which is much smaller. I get bored less often in a new place. Not to say that Corvallis is not photogenic. Far from it.

This Friday, even with everything going on with the COVID-19 pandemic and business most definitely not as usual, I did my usual weekly photo walk. I am clinging in desperation to my routines these days to find order in the chaos. The weather was crisp and fine, approaching a pleasant spring and 60 degrees. I even had time in the morning for golden hour because traffic getting there was so light. It was eerie walking around these empty, ghost-town streets that normally bustled with people from all over the Valley. Out and about were mainly just delivery drivers, a few stalwart state workers like myself, and some teenagers here and there.

(And yes, I have been taking this seriously. I stayed home when I had a cold last week, and I am healthy again. My job is not easily telecommutable and I need to work. I have been socially distancing and washing my hands frequently. When I am home, I don’t go out except when I need food, or for some fresh air in nature, and staying far away from other people.)

Any of these photos are available as a digital or print for purchase; feel free to PM me on Twitter or email me to get copies. You may also donate to my Venmo if you support my artistic and creative efforts. https://venmo.com/denise-ruttan Every little bit helps these days when our budgets are stretched thin.

Without further ado, because I wrote more words than I intended, I present my photo essay. All photos shot by Denise Ruttan, March 20, 2020, Salem, Oregon.

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