Twenty Years of Portland Punk Rock History
David “The Ack” Ackerman, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, the first in his Yankton Sioux family to be born off the reservation. “My great grandfather was a chief,” he says, “and my grandmother was a bootlegger.” He took his first photos at the age of three, of “deer in Minneapolis,” and has been a photographer ever since.
In the mid 80s, The Ack enjoyed going to rock shows at local clubs, and starting in 1987, he began to bring his camera along. The first band he photographed was The Obituaries, at the Satyricon. “At the time,” he says, “I wanted to photograph three bands: Lethal Dose, The Obituaries, and The Venarays. I got pictures of Lethal Dose and The Obituaries, but The Venarays broke up before I could photograph them.”
Throughout the 80′s and 90′s, The Ack continued to photograph bands on stage at various clubs around town, including Satyricon, Starry Night, The Long Goodbye, Pine Street Theater, and X-Ray Café. It just so happened that The Ack brought his camera along for the ride during a critical juncture in rock history, capturing the early days of many influencial and legendary Pacific Northwest bands.
Along the way, The Ack developed his own techniques for getting the best black and white shots possible the dark Portland clubs, preferring to create effects with camera settings and angles, rather than in the darkroom.
Though The Ack has done photography work over the years for local music magazines such as Two Louies and Snipehunt, many of the spectacular photos displayed on this site have never been previously published. At the time the photos were taken, The Ack often didn’t have the ability, physically or financially, to develop his negatives into prints. Fortunately, he kept track of his negatives and proof sheets, so that all these years later he can offer the world a closer look into Portland’s little corner of rock history.
In addition to his love for music and photography, The Ack enjoys comic book collecting, cat wrangling, and occasionally running for mayor of Portland. “Also,” he adds, “I consider Monica Nelson of The Obituaries to be my ultimate muse.” Bands The Ack has photographed include:
- Babes in Toyland
- Beauty Stab
- Blood Circus
- Cat Butt
- Coffin Break
- Dead Moon
- The Gits
- The Incinerators
- Lethal Dose
- Napalm Beach
- Nero’s Rome
- The Obituaries
- Oily Bloodmen
- Red Aunts
- 7 Year Bitch
- Smashing Pumpkins
- Snowbud and the Flower People
David Ackerman is the ultimate Pacific Northwest punk rock photographer.
— Erika Meyer