Armed with little more than a small point-and-shoot digital camera, Astoria resident Kim Taylor traverses Clatsop County documenting what she sees – from the small to the grand, and everything in between.

She has an eye for composition and an eccentric side that she hopes comes through in her photographs. But what does she lack? Training, or a professional-level camera.

No problem, she says. 

Neither has stopped the burgeoning artiste from gaining a following. Her photos have appeared throughout Astoria. Three Cups Coffee House, Salon Verve, Commercial Street Antiques and Collectibles, as well as Pennywise Thrift Store, have all showcased her work.

“I just started taking pictures for me,” she says, remembering the time a year ago when she left her job at the Oregon Youth Authority and turned solely to looking after her son and mother and taking photographs as a hobby. “And then people asked for copies.”

In the ensuing year since she bought a $150 camera and started snapping away, her Facebook page showcasing her photographs has gained 650 fans: “I’d be happy with just 100 people looking at my photography,” she says.

What keeps her going is an eye for the beautiful, the strange and the beautifully strange.

So when Taylor saw a twisted, gnarled and gangly thing peeking up from the surf near the Peter Iredale shipwreck in Warrenton a while back, she thought for a moment that it might be some sort of sea creature. It was a perfect opportunity for one of her pictures, she thought. 

It was a piece of driftwood, instead – somewhat resembling an alien, with a sloped head and three legs. Taylor took a few pictures of it propped up on the beach.

She left it there.

When Taylor returned a couple of days later, the alien-looking driftwood had washed farther down the beach and lay jumbled in a pile with other pieces of water-borne debris. She thought having the driftwood alien was “meant to be” and would make a great fixture in more of her photographs.

Now she lugs the three-foot piece of driftwood in her car and takes it on photo shoots as a prop, if necessary. And her favorite place to take those photographs is the South Jetty, which she says has a haunting, vibrant quality to it.  

“It’s always really wild out there,” she says, referring to the 70 mph winds that can whip past, but which rarely disturb her photography sessions. 

Looking back at established photographers who scoffed at her and her little camera, she says she’s proven the critics wrong.  

“I want to go as far as I can with my little digital camera,” she says.

And, perhaps, her driftwood creature, too.

— Tyler Graf

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