They Do It So You Don’t Have To.

It’s fascinating how joy, seriousness, comprehension, and innocence can all exist in one person, in the same instant.

I photographed the graduation ceremony of the most recent graduating class of the Detroit Emergency Medical Service Academy. These cadets officially became EMTs for the city of Detroit. In the same moment, you could feel their joy at their accomplishment, while watching the seriousness in their faces – a respect for the ceremony and their newly-earned responsibilities. They had the fresh, innocent look of any new graduate in any industry while, in the back of their minds, they knew what they would see in the line of duty.

This City’s on Fire

On the way to a friend’s house in Southfield, MI, I drove over an intersection with good visibility and saw a plume of smoke on the horizon.  Thinking it would be something close, small, and insignificant, I picked up my buddy and we went to check it out.  (We are photographers after all).

Well, as we were heading in the direction of the smoke, we realized it must be bigger than I thought because we didn’t seem to be getting closer.  Turns out it was actually 20 miles away.

From what I gather, it was an abandoned factory complex on Detroit’s West Side and the PD have no idea what happened.

To reiterate the scale, we met up with a volunteer firefighter from a northern suburb.  He was there because he saw the fire from Auburn hills – almost 40 miles away.

Here are some of the shots.

– Jon

The Golden Gang

A friend of mine has a golden retriever.  His name is Mondego (after the character in Alexander Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo).  He also happens to be the smallest fully-grown male golden I’ve ever met, tipping the scales at something like 40 pounds.

But that’s beside the point.

This dog is a member of an extended family that also loves goldens.  Parents and siblings included, there are 6 golden retrievers… and I got to photograph them.

Oh, and there’s a cockatoo as well.

Here are a few of my favorites.

– Jon

Danger? Where’s My Camera?

It was about 10ish years ago, but I remember it rather clearly.  I was sitting in my room with headphones on (quite loudly) and I could still hear these thumps.  It was probably more “felt.”  With the music off and standing on the back porch, the remote wail of sirens filled the evening.  The thumps continued.

So, my father and I piled in the van and drove through neighborhoods around us trying to see what happened.

Through the trees we saw the sky glowing, but the color was coming from the ground.  As we rounded the K-Mart, we saw what was causing the commotion.  There was a blaze we could feel from a quarter mile away.  Jets of fire were shooting 50 or 60 feet into the air.

Clearly there was too much hullabaloo for us to really understand what happened, but from the crowd that had gathered, we deduced that a shop owned by a hydroplane boat racer had caught fire.  We tried to get closer but were dutifully turned back.  The following day, we found out that the tanks of racing fuel had somehow combusted and compromised the acetylene equipment.  When I walked down to see the building, I saw that an entire wall had been blown outward as though The Hulk was inside.

A decade later and well into a career in photography, I still think about the pictures I would have gotten had I had a camera with me.

This also brings up the “photo journalism argument.”  Is is OK to profit from taking pictures of things or events that destroyed someone’s life or income?  I suppose I still haven’t decided which mindset I have.  So until that point, I’ll continue to take pictures of things that intrigue me.

As you can probably guess, there was a fire.  It was at a tree maintenance company about 3 miles from my house.

– Jon

OH MAN!! I am pumped… like REALLY pumped.

JonkPhotoClasses_Imagery__DSC3810

So, you see that big star-looking thing over there on the right, sticking out of the button that says “CLASSES?”   Well, I’ll betcha you’ve already figured out what’s going on.

I’M TEACHING COURSES!!

There are currently 6 courses being offered at 5 venues in the metro area.  The site is chock-full of all kinds of handy info, like course descriptions, info about all the venues, links to super-talented photographers, and lists of local and digital photo stores!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be adding…. well heck!  All this stuff is over THERE.  Go check it out.

And if you’re interested, join the mailing list and be the first in line for info on all the new developments!

– Jon

Gettin’ All Kinds Of Corporate

On an occasional basis, I do some work with Third Estate Design, a graphic media company out of Tecumseh, Michigan.

In October, they forwarded me to a client who needed some imagery of their keynote speaker.

Vital Skills Intl. Is a unique and interesting company based in Rochester, Michigan.  They essentially teach companies and employees how to achieve consistent results through an understanding of proper confrontation and conversation management.  As an added bonus to the job, I’m picking up quite a few tips and tricks.

The job is 3 stages long and I’ve just finished up the first part – Candid Event Coverage.

Stay tuned for updates featuring portraits and video spots.  And be sure to check out their site!

– Jon

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NAIAS And a Total Lack of Interest in Cars

I’m not a big “car guy.”  If you know me at all, you probably already knew that.
Well, last winter, a group of fellow photographers went downtown to ogle the curves (both the cars’ and the models’).  In the spirit of journalistic creation, I joined in.  As expected, once I arrived, the seething mass of “aficionados” easily overwhelmed the subject of the event.

As with any large public gathering I attend, my focus was on the people looking at things instead of the things they were looking at.  Oddly enough, a lot of people looked really bored (most of them were working the booths).

Here are some shots – sorry they’re nearly a year late…

– Jon

A Good Old Fashioned Celebration

It was a brisk fall day in northern Montana… OK – that’s a lie.  It was the last day of June in Detroit and it was HOT.  Like really, really hot.

But that’s all I really have to whine about.  The rest of the day was super awesome.

Based on this post, some of you may know that I don’t regularly shoot weddings.  It’s not so much because I don’t like them (’cause I do).  It’s more that shooting a wedding for someone you didn’t know until they hired you has some drawbacks:

– They aren’t your buddies and there’s a chance they may feel a bit uncomfortable with a camera pointed at them (regardless of how good you are).

– You don’t really know a lot about their personal lives, so striking up conversation/making them laugh is pretty much left to the stock commentary that gets used with every client.

– (This is my big one) – Their personal bubble is a LOT bigger.

Those are just a couple of reasons why I only shoot weddings for family and friends.  I can get closer, make them laugh more consistently, and – most importantly – it seems like less of a job and more like fun (which GREATLY improves image quality).

So anywho – a friend/former instructor of mine got hitched at the end of last month and I was there along with Ashley Lawler and Laura Raymond for picture takin’.

Here are some of the nifty shots we got.

– Jon

It’s Summer and I’m Polish.

It’s just about summer and as far as I’m concerned, that means festivities.

Now, I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods (Metro Detroit) there are fairs, events, and festivals EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  However, there is one kick-off that draws people from a really really long way off.

The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair.

This thing is straight up awesome.  Forget the corn-dogs and elephant ears for a second – most fairs take a few days to set up the rides and pavilions.  This one takes 2 WEEKS.  It started small and insignificant about 40 years ago… as of last year, it topped 110,000 attendees.

North American Midway Entertainment puts on the show (they’re the “world’s largest traveling outdoor amusement park”).

There are, of course, many a photo opportunity at this thing.  For your viewing pleasure – here’s a little gallery from my trip to the fair yesterday.  If you’d like to check out the rest, or pick up a print, be sure to swing over to the full event gallery!  <– (link).

-Jon