Who is James Holk and what is EcentDecent?

I grew up in Oakridge, an unassuming mountain town in the heart of the Oregon cascade range. My formative years were characterized by humble hand-me-downs and home school studies in a house nestled near the town's edge. Adventure was never in short supply with the national forest as our backyard. After my sixth birthday, my dad, an artist and anthropologist working for the Rigdon district Forest Service, introduced me and my brothers to what can legitimately be called the great outdoors when guiding us up the nearby decaying volcano, Diamond Peak. Lesser in stature to its nearby siblings, this multifaceted mountain is nevertheless distinct. I can remember its snow covered slopes captivating my attention from our neighborhood on a regular basis, both before and after our climb. As I scrambled on all fours up scree and shale to the summit I like to imagine a newfound sense of awe and perspective began to develop within me. I believe these moments shaped me in many ways. 
Unlikely as it seemed in a setting like Oakridge, skateboarding soon thereafter became my chosen teenage pastime. Exploration remained the common thread, however. I rode, scraped and slid my board across every square inch of that town's asphalt, concrete and wood surfaces. A year later my family relocated to Springfield and there was again new ground to cover. Skateboarding became more than a hobby or passion, it was an obsession. Everything I did and thought filtered through it. Eventually it served as a catalyst to my creative pursuits. I had always considered myself more of a wanderer than an artist, despite the amount of creativity that flows out from my family, but when I first began to record my friends skateboarding I fell in love with the craft. With the local pawn shop as my camera store and a pair of VHS players to edit my videos I was in business as the first go-to filmmaker for sponsor-me tapes. As the trend began to gain in popularity I decided to set the camcorder down and instead took interest in film photography.

Photo: 10 Stair Lip Slide, by Jaron Griffin
Silhouettes were largely all I produced with my first roll of film using my dad's 1970's Canon AE-1, the same camera used to photograph us atop Diamond Peak more than a decade prior. Now I had the ability to freeze-frame the world as I saw it. Learning to capture my friends skateboarding, a subject matter that required expediency and seldom provided second chances, quickly honed my skills through trial and error. Transworld Skateboard Magazine photographers Atiba Jefferson and Jon Humphries inspired me most to learn the importance of manipulating light and, without a proper education, comparison between my work and theirs often became my instructor. 

Photo: With Ira Elliot of Nada Surf, Self Portrait
Later a degree in Multimedia Design presented opportunities in photojournalism and editorial work. I began collaborating with other creative individuals and their ideas. My first job as an assistant photo editor for the college shaped my art as a storyteller. When next I became an assistant to fashion photographer, Chad Boutin, my skills as a director were sharpened. Eventually I applied these talents toward a collaborative effort with Andrew Young to create a youth-culture targeted music and art magazine called Minute Morning. As a more assertive approach to portraiture evolved with studio lighting and creative direction of musicians and celebrities I realized my desire to work with people would be long term.

Photo: With Stylist Ali Megan, by Chad Boutin
A part in skateboarding carried on as I rolled over into my twenties and moved to Portland, but it diminished upon my breaking one leg after another. Physical therapy prompted me to resume hiking to regain my strength and mobility. As time went on I became an avid mountaineer and trail runner. Today, as I enter my late thirties, trail running continues to be the primary mode by which I get outside and is often the subject matter of my work as a photographer. 
But really it all started when only a few years old and with a limited vocabulary I arranged a handful of fir cones on the forest floor, as though my imagination saw cars in a parking lot, then looked up to my dad and said, "ecent decent." Those words made sense then and somehow they still do today.​​​​​​​

Photo: Running The Inaugural WyEast Howl 100k, by Steven Mortinson
Thanks for reaching out.

I usually reply within less than a day unless I am out on assignment.

- James Holk
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