Food & Culture

Photography: Three Days in Seattle

Photo essay explores the experience from a unique perspective

By Rob Smith June 16, 2022


This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Madison Street has always fascinated photographer Eirik Johnson. It’s the only major thoroughfare that completely bisects the city, from the waterfront to Madison Park and Lake Washington. It traverses diagonally through Capitol Hill and Madison Valley.

“There’s a lot you can dig into there,” says Johnson, a professional photographer who also serves as programs chair at Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle’s historic nonprofit photographic arts and education center on Capitol Hill. “You can talk about class and the history of redlining and that sort of thing, but today you can see the nightlife, pastoral Madison Park, downtown, the waterfront.”

So Johnson decided to do just that. Along with nationally noted portrait photographer Richard Renaldi and nine student-participants from the Photographic Center, Johnson led a team that spent three days last September capturing the diverse cultures that create life on the hilly thoroughfare. The result is “Through Line of the City,” a 32-image pictorial essay meant to tell the stories of the small businesses, architecture, community organizations, businesses and nightclubs that populate the street.

The shots were originally intended as an academic exercise, but the team decided to make the pictures public after examining the body of work. Johnson admits that walking the steep hill of the street was daunting, but says it worked to the project’s advantage.

“There’s a lot of value in slowing down and looking at the place you live. We don’t do that enough. It is a moment in time, a reflection of Seattle in 2021,” Johnson says. “There are signs that we are still in a bit of a pandemic, but you get a sense of the diversity of the city and certain areas that are going through transition. My hope is that this adds to the history and character of Seattle.”

See the entire photo essay at It is also compiled as a photographic zine.

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