Recycling litter into art

Candid explores our surroundings through what we leave behind. I started this project to experiment with ways of using elements from the environment to create my work rather than simply photographing them. While collecting materials I became fascinated by litter and the locations where I found it.

After collecting litter throughout the pacific northwest, I converted the cans into pinhole cameras. To fully incorporate these cans/cameras into the project, I photograph the locations where they were collected using the dry-plate tintype process. This process creates an image directly on the inside of the can itself. For the final documentation I returned again to photograph the finished pieces in their original environments.

Candid takes a ubiquitous symbol of consumption from its final resting-place on our streets, transforms it, and places it on the walls of a gallery. Through the visual documentation and mapping of the locations where I found the litter, I hope to give you the tools to explore your surroundings from a different angle and share the sense of surprise and curiosity I experienced while creating this project.

This project was supported by a 2016 GAP award from Artist Trust.

Seattle Center

Seattle Center contains some of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks and is a hub for entertainment, arts, education, and tourism. As you would expect for such a popular destination, the center grounds themselves are very clean. Just beyond the edge of the grounds it is very different and I found cans everywhere along the streets.

Ginger Ale at Broad and 4th Miller Highlife at Denny and Warren Bud Light at 4th and Broad Modelo at 5th and John Four Loco behind the Armory

Pike and Pine, Seattle

The Pike/Pine Corridor is a diverse, three mile long path through the heart of Seattle. It provides a cross section of the city from the tourist attractions along the waterfront through the business core of downtown and the nightlife of Capitol Hill to the residential streets of Madrona. I chose this area because it allowed me to show a different view of uniqueness of Seattle alongside the mundane.

Shasta Grape under the Alaskan Way Viaduct Pabst at Boren and Pine Steel Reserve on Harvard El Jefe on 14th Icehouse at 31st and Pine

Auburn | Bellevue

I chose to compare Auburn and Bellevue, Washington because of what these two cities represent. Auburn is the home to a Boeing plant and is a thriving hub of industry while Bellevue is home to offices of Microsoft and many other technology giants in their polished towers. These represent two of the main forces that drive the Pacific Northwest economy. Initially I was worried about finding enough cans in Bellevue’s downtown to be interesting. Once I started looking for cans that feared turned out to be unfounded and it was Auburn’s downtown where I had trouble finding them.


Arizona Brooklyn on R Street Monster at the Interurban Trail and SR-18 Jumex at W Main and E Street Monster Java in Environmental Park Pepsie Max at E Main and M Street


Mike's Harder at 8th and 108th Steel Reserve at 8th and the Eastside Rail Corridor Sprite at 8th past Bellevue Way Miller Highlife at 8th and I-405 Pabst at 4th and Bellevue Way

Tacoma: Downtown and Titlow Park

While collecting can in downtown Tacoma I was surprised to find that it was one of the cleanest cities I’d explored. While I had expected it to be much less busy than downtown Seattle, I had not anticipated how much that would change the area’s ability to keep litter under control. When I visited Titlow Park I found that this cleanness was only on the surface. While the beach at this park appeared clean, dozens of cans were hidden just out of sight.


Coors Light on the Foss Waterway Trail under WA-509 Rockstar at Pacific and S Hood Street Milwaukee's Best on Dock Street before E D Street La Croix Grapefruit at Pacific and 17th

Titlow Park

Rainier at Titlow Park 1 Red Bull at Titlow Park Rolling Rock at Titlow Park Rainier at Titlow Park 2 Starbucks Energy at Titlow Park

Marsh and Foster Islands

Marsh and Foster Islands are an oasis of nature on the edge of Seattle, Washington. Near the University of Washington, the trail across these two islands is a popular spot for runners and others who value a quiet space near the city. While the parks is fairly clean, it’s easy nearness Seattle makes it a prefered quite drinking place for some and I found many cans in the water around the docks on the island as well as quite a few in the brambles. Of the cans I collected out of the water a few had been there for at least 10 years and one I believe had been discarded closer to 40 years ago.

Natural Ice looking at WA-520 from Marsh Island Rolling Rock looking at Husky Stadium from Marsh Island Gameday looking at Lake Washington from Foster Island New Coke looking at Marsh Island from Foster Island Rainier looking at the Arboretum Waterfront Trail


Because Leavenworth is such a tourism based city I expected it to be extremely clean. On further exploration I found its Bavarian exterior to be not much more than a facade and that there was as much, or even more, litter on it’s streets as any other city its size.

Coor's Light on Main Street in Waterfront Park Coca Cola at Front Street and US-2 Pabst at US-2 and Front Street Busch Light at Commercial and 10th Bud Light on Commercial between 10th and Division

Sodo Seattle

In Sodo I collected cans along 1st Avenue from the stadiums to Spokane Street. In areas like this it’s easy to just blame litter on the homeless and lump the two problems together. While I certainly did find litter near the homeless camps I found at least as much near the stadiums and in nearby parking lots that tailgating hotspots.

Miller Highlife outside Century Link Field Rainier across from Safeco Field Bud Light at 1st and Stacy Rainier at 1st and Forest Screwdrivers at 1st and Horton

Redmond, WA

I collected cans in Redmond 4 times over the course of the years to see how the amounts and types would vary with the seasons. What I expected was that there would be the fewest in the winter and the most in the summer. I ended up with the opposite, I collected the most cans in the winter and the least in the spring and summer.

Lite Beer at PSE Powerline Trail and 104th Miller at Avondale and 85th Pepsie at 90th and 161st Tin can at Cleaveland and 166th Welche's apple juice at West Sammamish River Trail and 90th

Other Locations

As well as the above locations I found a few lonely cans at other interesting locations.

Monster Java on the Iron Goat trail Tecate at Ballard Locks Rainier at Ballard Locks Rainier at Gasworks Park Fanta Orange looking over Lake Union from Gasworks Park Old English at Gasworks Park