They’ve Still Got That Swing

It’s that time of year again… well it’s “that” time of year twice a year I suppose…

Every October and February I, along with my lovely assistant/girlfriend/fellow photographer, attend the local nursing home’s holiday dance. Sanctuary at Fraser Villa is a division of the Trinity Health System. There’s an autumn-themed party and a Valentine’s day shindig. You’ll find food, family, a live swing orchestra, and a group of young gentlemen to escort the residents to the dance floor (usually students from the local high schools or a Boy Scout troup).

The Older They Are, The Harder They Party

A number of years ago – maybe 3 or 4 – I did a class project, designed to make use of my major for someone’s benefit. My mother manages nursing education at Sanctuary at Faser Villa, a Metro Detroit senior care center, part of the Trinity Health System. This particular center hosts a number of yearly parties for their residents.

In other words, things lined up nicely.

Throughout the growth into my career, I got a boatload of experience shooting events and operating on-site photobooths. For a couple years my girlfriend and I brought a photobooth setup to the senior center; she ran the booth, I shot candids. Over time I began dabbling in video and eventually brought it into the mix. Now each time we attend an event, she shoots pictures, I shoot video.

It’s kind of interesting, working within a set group of people. When you shoot any given event, be it a wedding, or Mitzvah, or company picnic, you have to read the crowd and get a feel for the people.  Pinpoint the couple guests who are super outgoing and seem to exude happiness into whatever group of people they happen to be near. You’ve gotta learn the venue and figure out where the best light is. You also have to try to anticipate the event schedule and be in position before things happen. In the end, you’ve gotta do the best you can and work with what you’re given.

But shooting the same event each year gives a different edge. It’s especially pronounced in a setting like a senior center.  Activity schedules tend not to change much (it’s difficult for the residents if things change all the time). The setting is the same (it’s in the same building each time). Also, for the most part, the residents live there full time, meaning the attendees at the parties tend to remain fairly consistent.

So, instead of a reset each time, I get to work with the information about the event, guests, and venue I had from the previous party and build on it.  It’s unique in comparison to my experiences shooting parties and events.

The most recent party we attended was the Annual Harvest Ball, an Autumn-themed event they host every October. Check out the video below!

– Jon

“Artist” is So Last Decade.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work with up and comers in various creative industries; specifically, people who are looking to turn their passions and hobbies into a career.  There have been events like lectures, presentations, and portfolio reviews; and I’ve taught a number of visual media classes.  Throughout these experiences, I’ve caught myself using a term repeatedly.

Professional Creatives.

Now, you might say to yourself – isn’t that the same thing as a creative professional? It’s a common phrase and it sounds very similar. And I’ll give it to you that each title shares similar traits. But there’s one big fundamental difference.  You can consider it grammar or sentence structure, but it all comes down to which trait is most valuable.

So, what’s the difference between a creative professional and a professional creative?

In each title, there’s a noun and there’s an adjective.  One of these individuals identifies them self as a professional while the other labels them self as a creative. They both share similar qualities, but depending on the title, there’s a different emphasis.  It’s the noun that deserves priority as it defines what the person is, and not a characteristic they possess.

EXAMPLE: Gray elephant.  By looking at the elephant, you know it’s gray, but that’s not what jumps out at you.  The first thing you see is “Elephant.”

So, that begs the question: which is more important, being professional or being creative?

Dick Weisgrau – he’s the former Executive Director of ASMP.  (for those of you who don’t know, the ASMP is the American Society of Media Photographers.  It’s basically THE association of professional photographers.) Dick once said “It’s almost more important to be a good business person than it is to be a good photographer”

There are 2 things to walk away from that with: to maintain a career in the industry, you need to be both creative and professional.  They’re the 2 most important aspects.  However, to sacrifice any aspect of your creativity for the sake of appearing more professional is the first step in removing yourself from your passion.

If you’re a baker, or a sculptor, or an illustrator, or a photographer, or a graphic designer and you have your own company – when you meet someone and they ask what you do, do you say “I’m a business owner?”

No – You introduce yourself by your passion.

Hi.  I’m Jon , I’m a photographer, and I’m a professional creative.

Who are you?

Back With the Best of Both Worlds!

Well hey there, folks!

Nope – I didn’t drop off the planet and I didn’t take a crew position on the H.M.S Galactica. In reality the answer’s a bit more boring.   Life’s been busy, projects have been in flux, and work’s been less visual and more consultation-based.

Over the last 6 months I’ve acquired some new clients, started fresh projects with previous clients, and been on a number of adventures.  Why, I even started teaching at an accredited institution and have been presenting a growing series of motivational presentations directed at upcoming professional creatives.  (So, I can safely say you should be expecting some content that’s excited to jab at your cerebral cortex.)

To kick things off, I’d like to showcase a recent project.  It took about a month to put together and ended up producing one of the best outtake reels I’ve ever shot. (That’s coming a bit later).

Going on a year and a half ago, I put out this post for a recently finished project.  Canine Resolution contracted me for a branding package, photo series, and promo packets.  It’s now 18 months later and video’s the name of the game.

I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Canine Resolution is the Metro Area’s best dog training institution.  No – really.  They just won 1st place in the 2014 Detroit A-list Competition for “Best Dog Trainer.” They work in all programs from puppy and the A.K.C Canine Good Citizen Program, to agility, scent training, and schutzhund (attack training). Their program shuns shock collars or negative reinforcement and promotes simultaneous training of owner and dog.  All things considered, it’s pretty awesome.

So, let your eyeballs be entertained and soak in the official Canine Resolution Commercial.

– Jon

Crowd-Sourced Creation Fodder.

There’s only so much non-photo work I can do before I either have a boredom-related breakdown or start obsessively photographing whatever’s within reach. The problem with the latter option is that everything you look at daily just seems boring. It might not be, but it’s just so ordinary you don’t even thing about its value as the subject of a image.

That’s why I implemented a tactic from a few years back: Crowd sourcing anti-boredom assignments.

The first run of this was just after I graduated with my Associate’s Degree. I was still fresh enough that I didn’t have constant work, and I was also so used to assignments that it was a bit tricky to think of one-off images that didn’t involve a full-blown project. After pondering the situation, I asked the folks of the internet to suggest everyday items of which I could create unique images. The resulting images from those suggestions yielded 6 pictures that are still in my permanent portfolio, and 3 of the most popular stock images I’ve ever shot.

Well,  I’ve had a ton of supplementary work lately and I’ve been gettin’ the ol’ photo itch. So, I put out the request and the feedback was just lovely.

There were a few that I’d certainly like to try out (lava lamp, pocket watch, tea kettle…) but those will have to wait for next time. One of the pleasant side effects of the project was that it got me pondering the visual value of other common items. As it is, I’ve been making home-made sausage lately and realized those should also be included in the lineup. PB&J was easily the most time-consuming.

If you’re ever in a pickle and need a bit of inspiration, be sure to turn to the internet.  The folks of the interwebs are full of interesting ideas.

Here are some of my favorites – enjoy the shots!

– Jon

More Michigan Than you can Shake a Stick at!

Wow! I’ve been neglecting the ol’ blog for a while – but with good reason.

There’s quite a bit of big news in the works, but what with it being “in the works,” I’m gonna keep it on the down-low for just a bit longer. Suffice it to say, you may be seeing JonKPhoto at your local theaters and schools in the near future.

But for now – enough of that.

The big news in the art world is the same as the big news in most western countries: multi-denominational holidays and festivities are ready to drop in your lap like so much retail.

If you’ve been on the internet lately … (Jon stares, knowingly, directly into the camera) then you’ve probably heard the horror stories of the frenzied mobs, camping outside BestBuy, ready to bash you over the head with an outdated Apple product in order to be the first to the PS4 rack.

Guess what! Thanks to the benefits of modern technology, you can eat confectionery delights, rock the PJs, and STILL get an awesome present for that special someone (you know who I mean).

You probably know I take pictures. Sometimes. Occasionally… You may have even clicked that “Michigan Art” button on the home page. What you probably DON’T know (or you may, depending on how well you know me) is that when I shoot fine art imagery, it’s almost exclusively in Michigan.

I freakin’ LOVE Michigan!

Well, with the exception of a trip to Chicago, every image you find in my fine art site was shot in this state and the surrounding Great Lakes. Now, I feel it’s time to tie that little concept into my company.

All the images on my fine art site are available for purchase, from prints to postcards, from mugs to mousepads, if you can think of an image-related gift item you’d like to wrap up then immediately watch someone unwrap, I’ve got you covered.

I don’t directly market my fine art, so I’ll take a moment to fill your eyeballs with some Michigan beauty.
Enjoy, and in case you missed the plethora of hyperlinks up there, you can check out the full site HERE… and Here.


Here also.

OK, here are pictures.
– Jon

Here.

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