Hunting for Hoops in Portland, Oregon
Grant Lemons is a video creator & editor living in Portland, Oregon. His work includes collaborations with artists like Simno, Caleborate, and Zack Fox. Originally from Salem, Oregon he is an alumni of the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. BUCKETS is his first publication and encapsulates three years of photographing basketball hoops throughout his adopted city.
Q: Where are you from?
Grant Lemons: I was born and raised in Salem, Oregon.
Q: How long have you been photographing hoops in Portland?
Grant Lemons: Right when I moved back to Portland after a two year stint in Denver, I found one of my favorites hoops to date a few blocks from the apartment I lived in at the time. It was summer of 2017 and it began as a slow drip from there. Those hoops in the Buckman neighborhood serve as the point of inspiration.
Q: What inspired you to start the Buckets Book?
Grant Lemons: The inception of BUCKETS came about organically. At the time I did training runs all over the city, taking in the hoops from Westmoreland to St. Johns. In parallel, my friend and 50/50 collaborator on BUCKETS, Phillip was also spending hours exploring the city on foot, noticing many of the same hoops I was. The two of us began going on neighborhood hoop hunts and we were blown away by the number of unique hoops we found. At some point in 2018, I approached Phillip--a designer whose work I admire greatly--about doing this for real. From that point forward BUCKETS was born with the goal of telling a story unique to Portland through its neighborhood basketball hoops. Our intention from the beginning was to create a premium coffee table book with our discoveries and 350+ hoops later we did just that.
Q: What does your creative process look like?
Grant Lemons: For this project, my creative process and inspiration both come from the environment I'd find myself in. The process of making BUCKETS was simple, but crucial for making sure we found, tracked, and mapped where the best hoops are. For example if I was driving and noticed a hoop on the side of the road, I'd pull over immediately, open up google maps, and create a pin to remind myself later to come back. Looking to the street for cues, i.e. is the hoop by a tree that would make it better to photograph in a particular season? I'd keep the cues in mind and sometimes wait for months till coming back to capture it at the perfect time of day/season. That's why this project took the time it did. We didn't want to rush the process. Once I did photograph the hoop, the process loop closes when I move the pin from my personal google map to a shared PDX hoops map that Phillip and I use to organize our findings. This internally facing map currently has almost 375 hoops pinned, and it is key for us to remember where we've been, and where we still need to go to capture more hoops.
Q: What’s the driving force behind your work?
Grant Lemons: The human element and touch with these hoops served as the driving force behind the work 100%. For me, my hoop that I grew up on is rarified territory. Many of my most formative memories that have nothing to do with sport happened around that hoop, which served more so as a gathering place. You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their hoop, and they hold so many stories that you can feel by just looking at them. While that was the primary driving force in the beginning, another powerful force began to appear as we captured more hoops and eventually began revisiting sites we've been to. When we'd pull up to the site, the hoop wasn't there anymore. There's plenty of examples I could point to in the book, but these photos now serve as a snapshot of how a neighborhood felt in that specific point and time through the lens of the hoop. All to say, there's a historical preservation side to the project that was born out of the work, and it's motivated us to keep documenting as many hoops as we can.
Q: Where can we find more of your work?
Grant Lemons: For all things BUCKETS, you can follow along and see our recent finds in the city over at @buckets.book. For my video work/everything else outside of BUCKETS, my handle on Instagram is @grantlemons and my website is www.grant-lemons.com.