Seattle Poster Wall Click on thumbnail to enlarge image, view caption and use slideshow options. To return to this page click on the image background The Pike Place Market is very popular with visitors to Seattle and at busy times its traders and local shoppers must find the throng a little uncomfortable. Information on the Poster Wall and why I made the photographs accompanies Images 12 > 17 and on the Market itself starts with the next image.The Market was established in 1907 on the initiative of Thomas Revelle, a city councillor, to counter producer and customer dissatisfaction with the price manipulations practised by middlemen at that time. It survived moves to demolish and redevelop the site in the early 1960s. Updates and renovations continue but it still operates the original “Meet the Producer” philosophy behind its foundation.The pikeplacemarket.org website statistics show that the nine acre site gives space to 200 year-round commercial businesses, 190 craftspeople, 100 farmers, 240 musicians and performers and 300 low-rent housing units let particularly to elderly residents. For the curious it has a comprehensive index of businesses and all manner of general information including busker licences and stall rental.The market is built on a sloping site between Western Avenue on the waterfront and First Avenue high above. Pike Street joins the latter at right angles where the buildings and a large silhouetted and illuminated ‘Public Market Center’ lettered sign provide closure. The original market arcade is single storey but behind and below are other floors built down the slope. Further shops and arcades are set around.Regulated stands for musicians at the First Avenue and Pike entrance and further along Pike Place support an ever changing programme with wide appeal. Buying something to eat, perhaps at the bakery next to the fish stall theatre with its customer participation, and walking around the performances is an enjoyable diversion. There always seems to be someone new to watch and hear. Multi-national cafes, food shops and bakeries are tempting.Many visitors take photographs and there is certainly much potential in and around the market. In the past I’ve looked largely at the surrounding architecture as subject to avoid including people within the frame.Browsing one of Seattle’s many bookstores I acquired a copy of the book ‘Portrait of a Market’ by John Stamets In his preface he describes the use of a Widelux camera equipped with a 127 degree rotating lens to create panoramic images within the market buildings. It’s a really admirable photographic study.He relates that his first Market visit was in response to a writer’s request for photographs to illustrate an article. This grew into weekly visits between October 1985 and January 1987. The book presents seventy-three photographs, many of which have short texts that introduces readers to the people behind the counters. Copies can be sourced on line and are worth acquiring for both text and imagery.On a visit in 2012 I wanted to complete a small collection of photographs related to the Market but within hours rather than years. I also wanted to achieve something slightly different in approach and without intruding into the Market buildings. As I often do, I intended to direct the camera at small details rather than the broader view.Rising quite steeply, the narrow Post Alley climbs the street grid from its origins as Post Avenue on the Elliott Bay waterfront to pass under the Market and emerge on Pike Place. From there it continues to thread through the buildings to the north. In that short covered length the Alley passes the Gum wall, the Pike Place Market Theatre box office, and the Poster Walls.The Gum Wall is an attraction in its own right and is listed online where its history is recorded. Alongside, there are two poster walls. One occupies a triangular space formed as the Alley rises to Pike Place and, though sheltered, is open to the elements. My visit followed a recent clearance and it carried only a thin layer of new posters and fliers related to arts events.The other wall is under cover and differs markedly in appearance and purpose. There, posters and paper ephemera are interlaced with others both lettered and hand drawn. The much denser layers show old and new in a life cycle of birth and decay common to all organisms. Some billposters must tote a ladder to aid their creativity.Post Alley at this point is narrow and executes a ninety degree turn navigated by the occasional car or van. Walkers wander up and down to look at both poster and gum walls, with the latter much more popular for their cameras on this particular day. Perhaps its high potential yuck factor exerts an especial fascination. It was interesting to work behind a tripod in such a busy and restricted space amongst people wielding largely hand-held cameras.The scene was energised by a few students who talked about it as ‘The Freedom Wall’ where anyone could remove as well as post items. Doing the former, they knew what they were after but found that it’s difficult to remove paper pasted to a wall eight feet above the street whilst jumping. Photographically I was doing the same but with little effort and without taking anything physical away.I intended to make twenty photographs, all framed as I might compose on a studio table by assembling and adjusting marks and paper. I wanted to make the compositions complete in themselves rather than as fragments from a larger whole and without the need to crop in any later processing. As maths is not a strong trait I made twenty-two images.The low light levels dulled the colours in some images and these I did slightly enhance. I moved gently from what was recorded to what I felt the wall might look like in better light without disturbing the distressed quality of the paper surfaces. Most compositions are exactly as framed in the viewfinder whilst some were lightly adjusted to a true perpendicular. Though not concentrating on the Market itself the images were prompted by its immediate environment.DEFINITION: A slap tag (Image 03 and others) is said to be something written, drawn or printed on to a piece of adhesive-backed paper in a way personal to the tagger. The tags are then applied to all manner of signs and surfaces out of doors but to affix them to an art work in any medium is to be considered disrespectful. DISCUSSAs I wrote these notes I had also been editing some earlier image files. One contained an early shoot of one hundred city centre photographs from 2005 made in less than an hour whilst walking to board a train home. I saw parallels in approach between that set and this one. Seventeen of those earlier images, plus a composite of the full one hundred, might be posted in a NEWCASTLE WINDOW WALK gallery: as yet I’m not convinced that I should publish them.