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

One Giant Movie Set

It’s been kind of hit-and-miss with the nice days in Michigan this spring.  Now, I’m not really one to mind rain, but my camera seems to have a rather noticeable aversion to it.  Last week summer came out of nowhere and hasn’t shown signs of leaving.  That paired with a bit of free time, I journeyed into downtown Pontiac for a bit of photography.

If you aren’t local to Metro Detroit, I’ll understand if you don’t really know much about Pontiac.  Let me explain it like so:  If they were looking for somewhere to film “I Am Legend,”  Pontiac wouldn’t even need CGI or set design.  I suppose that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.  “Desolate” is a good word  for this situation.

I like to refer to Pontiac as Detroit v2.0.  In addition to the lack of anything redeeming, the city seems to be headed toward 2 extremes of a spectrum.  On one hand, artists and galleries are making their way downtown and creating a kind of depressing version of Ferndale-Corktown.  Also, by my count, there are half a dozen locally well-known nightclubs.  There’s also Erebus, a rather famous haunted house.

On the other hand the city is like a ghetto.  Nearly all the schools have closed, which forced the assimilation of multiple schools under one roof and has resulted in more than a handful of gang brawls, including shootings and the like.  Driving around, I feel like perhaps 1 in 7 buildings is abandoned or in need of demolishing.  A good 80% of the businesses that are still open are all lumped into a 3-block stretch of a single street.  I even drove past the homeless shelter yesterday and noticed there was a special parking area just for female staff members (it’s well-lit and right next to an entrance).

Even the cops left.  Seriously – last year the Pontiac PD was decommissioned.  The city is now paroled by State PD.

I’ve always liked Pontiac and I don’t want to say it’s hopeless, but when I see news articles about the “revitalization of Pontiac,” I usually just ignore them and move on.  Detroit has a fighting chance – enough people care and are actively trying to improve the city.  Pontiac isn’t really getting the same energy.

Well, scattered among the vast seas of parking lots, there are quite a few grand structures that deserve some photographic attention.  So, I suppose I’ve found my new project.  Here are a few of my favorite shots so far.  They will be on my fine art site and available for purchase after I feel I’ve really sunk my teeth into the project.

– Jon

A Fair(way) to Find New Clients

It’s summer and I want to go hang out up north.  As such, it makes sense to find some clients up there.  So, I’ve begun marketing to country clubs (they’re rather abundant in vacation towns).

Anywho, I figured it might be a good idea to start small.  So, I began with the one at the edge of my neighborhood – Pontiac Country Club, in Waterford, MI.  As this doesn’t really require much more explanation, I’ll just jump right to the pictures.

Would you golf here?

– 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

History Repeats Itself

When it rains, it pours.  When it rains dogs… well, speaking in meteorological terms, that’s impossible, but the idea of it is straight awesome.

The last three posts were all about our fuzzy, drool-covered, blanket-hogging, best friends.  So I see no need to stop while we’re on a roll.  Here’s dog post numero 4.

Back in another life (it was something like 6ish years ago) I worked at a dog training company for about a year.  Recently I got back into the whole Rescue League scene and organized a pet adoption fundraiser (That post down there has all the nitty gritty).  Well, in the process of organizing the whole thing, I found myself in touch with that very same trainer.

You’ll never guess what happened.

OK, you probably will.  I mean, why else would I be writing a post about this?  So to answer the question that’s clearly been screaming from the dark recesses of your mind: YES!  Yes I have taken even more pictures of dogs.  Not only that, but I also re-branded his company.  It looks pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.

Also – not sure how many of you fine folks have adopted or are about to adopt, but I would like to mention that Canine Resolution has my highest level of approval when it comes to learning how to make the best of your time with your best friend.  Tell ’em Jon Kopacz sent ya.

Here’s some pretty stuff.  Have a gander!

– Jon

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Im-paws-ibly Awesome People

While a small handful knew some details, the campaign went live this weekend, so I can officially unleash (as it were) the project.

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A few weeks ago, I was hired by Pedigree, these guys –>  https://www.pedigree.com/ 

For a bit, now, they have held a national competition where a number of rescue shelters receive free dog food for a year.  The event is divided up regionally and during this round, Metro-Detroit was one of the picks.

As for my part, I was tasked with documenting the goings-on at the rescue shelters in Flint, Pontiac, and Dearborn.

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Those you who know me know I am an animal lover and have a very hard time dealing with, knowing about, or being exposed to the many ways people mistreat animals.  That said, I understand the feeling a lot of people have when they visit a shelter.  It seems depressing and hard for the animals – and it is.  It is especially hard when a dog or a cat is used to having a home and is suddenly thrust into what probably seems to be a jail.

I could keep explaining the negative side, but you’re on Facebook, you see the news, and you watch the commercials.  So, I won’t drive my point home any further.  What I WILL do is tell you about the other side of the story.  I want you to know about the people that make these shelters work – the staff and volunteers.

The definition of volunteer tells you a bit about a person right from the start.  They aren’t being paid, they aren’t receiving time off work.  These folks are giving up their time to help with a situation a lot of people don’t want to even hear about.  More than that, they LOVE these animals.  When a dog has been at a shelter for five years, you might look at it and think it has nothing left and it will never be happy again.  Then that one person – THAT DOG’S volunteer – walks in and it’s like he’s a brand new dog. Tail wagging, ears up.  It’s his favorite person in the world and they’re there just to see him.

The “staff.”  I don’t like that word.  It implies that this is simply a job.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It’s their job, but it’s also their life.  At each of the shelters I photographed, I found out the staff members regularly foster dogs at their homes, teaching positive behavior and building emotional bonds, knowing that they will have to give up the friendship so that the dogs can have  happy lives.  Trust me when I say this is a LOT more than a job for these people.

While this project is all well and good, I’m using it as a platform for something much bigger.  Confirmation on a few planned events should come down the line early this week – so stay tuned for the updates.  Plus, a few videos are on their way soon.

In the meantime, check out some of the shots from the three shelters.

To vote for the region to win free dog food, swing by the Facebook page, here.

This campaign may change the lives of a number of dogs, but there are tens of thousands out there that could desperately use your help.  Shelters are constantly in need of things like food, cleaning supplies, newspaper, and bedding.  Those last two are things you probably have sitting in the corner of your basement waiting to get thrown away.

Please look up your local shelter and drop off a thing or two.  It may only take a second of your time or a bit of spare change, but it can make all the difference in the world to a pet that need s home.

If you would like to see the full gallery of images from the different shelters, click here.  All the pictures are for sale and half of all proceeds are donated to the shelter where the picture was taken.

Thanks guys

– Jon

 

Turning The Community Inside Out

_DSC5778  “Art-Cities” are rather prevalent these days.

In the US, New York is a given.  Philadelphia, and Boston are also getting pretty influential.  Of course there are a whole bunch on the west coast, as well.  But, when it comes to the Midwest, it’s not so much the city-proper that are havens for artists, but the smaller communities that make up portions of downtown.  Detroit is a great example.

It’s actually gotten to the point that the art and creativity is spilling out of the few neighborhoods and showing up on city-maintained structures like early-century corporate buildings, public transportation vehicles, and a lot of the general infrastructure of the city.

The best part is that while downtown is letting its creativity fly free, a lot of the suburbs are following suit and encouraging artists to publicly display work and construct customized installation pieces.

In fact, the Detroit Institute of Arts has gotten very involved and has begun donating replicas of famous works for public display on local communities.  Check it out –> http://www.dia.org/get-involved/community-outreach.aspx

Some of you may have heard of JR.  He’s a French artist who won the TED Prize in 2011.  Here’s his talk:


As you can see, his concept of a world-wide art project is pretty grandiose and wide-sweeping.

Well, it’s working –>  http://www.insideoutproject.net/  and Metro Detroit is taking part.  The city of Walled Lake is digging into the art world and will be playing host to the DIA’s project, JR’s Inside Out Project, and a whole slew of work from local artists this spring.

Be sure to check the city website for details and swing back here to see some of the shots!

– Jon