Bend, Oregon, may be a few hours from the closest metropolis, but it’s poised to become one of the Pacific Northwest’s most respected art communities. From fine arts to the culinary arts, Bend is a city brimming with inspired galleries, breweries and restaurants, and it’s the little things that add up to make this one destination you don’t want to miss.
Bend also has far more than a creative vibe that attract travelers; the former logging town doubles as a hotbed of outdoor activities, from rock climbing to whitewater rafting.
Gary Williams Jr., co-founder of Creative Theory, has spent years both in front of the camera as a model and behind the lens as a creative director capturing the minute details about a place that make it special. After a visit to the SpringHill Suites Bend, Gary shared his insider knowledge of how to best photograph Central Oregon’s most unique city.
Public Art Installations
When photographing art, Gary likes to go for a “wide-angle shot that gives a sense of scale and a tighter angle that maybe speaks to the detail of the piece.” In Bend, public art is woven all throughout the common spaces, and “it’s cool to step back and get a wider shot to see the scale, as well as the surroundings or people and buildings,” he says.
Instagram tip: Make sure the entire artwork is in the frame (and in focus), and decrease the shadows in Instagram to highlight specific details of the art itself.
“This pace is vast,” Gary says of the crater within Deschutes National Forest, “so you most definitely want to get wide angles, but again, with the lava rock and obsidian, a good, tight shot works, too.” Gary suggests monitoring the time of day you visit to get some “really cool reflections and lens flare” when the sun hits the obsidian.
Instagram tip: On a bright, sunny day with no cloud coverage, you may need to use the contrast and clarity tools in Instagram to make a crisp sky free of haze. If a bit overcast, bring out the shadows and reduce the highlights to make for a stunning panorama.
Paulina Peak is “another vast place that demands a wide-angle shot,” Gary says. “If no one is with me, I tend to carry a small portable tripod so I am able to photograph myself and show scale in the scene. But if you are traveling with someone, have them capture you. This high up you’re going to see a lot of sky, so it would benefit you to use a filter that brings out the blues.”
Instagram tip: Gary recommends using an app like Snapseed, as it offers plenty of filters beyond the standard Instagram options, such as the Portrait function, to enhance the colors of the subject and the backdrop with no additional actions needed.
Bend Art Center
Inside spaces can give your Instagram feed variety, but they’re also more difficult to shoot because lighting often isn’t ideal, Gary says. “The Bend Art Center has great natural light, so use that to your advantage!” He advises that photographers play around with framing and use the architectural structure of the building to create different perspectives, like a sweeping, wide-angle shot.
Instagram tip: Before posting to your Insta, run the image through the free app A Color Story, which offers a Fresh pack offers the option that brightens an image and brings out the whites, a crucial editing function when dealing with low light and accurately portraying indoor spaces. Once you’ve made the adjustments, it’ll be Instagram ready.
Brewpubs: Craft Kitchen & Brewery
Brew pubs are often industrial in nature, incorporating elements like exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and sometimes even a mural wall or two, like at Craft Kitchen & Brewery. Gary recommends “grabbing some closeups of hands on beers or any other cool details you notice” inside the brewpub. Added bonus: You get to drink your props when you’re done with your makeshift photo shoot.
Instagram tip: If you’re shooting with a phone and not a DSLR lens that offers a variety of F-stops, you can achieve a similar effect by using the tilt-shift function in Instagram to draw focus to the detail and blur out the background.
Eat Local: Jackson’s Corner
Gary says that shooting restaurants like Jackson’s Corner is “often tricky, mainly because the lighting is mostly orange and isn’t flattering in photos.” He adds, “I try to find a window to sit at if I plan on taking photos of the delicious food. I would recommend that.”
Instagram tip: “If you can’t find a seat by a window for the natural light, just carry your food over by a window and shoot it,” Gary says. “Sounds like a lot for a shot, but do it for the ‘Gram!” With the Afterlight app, you can lighten the image and employ a number of other features, like a stencil overlay, before posting the image to Instagram.