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

Back In The Day

Yesterday, I got a chance to revisit my childhood.  It was an… altered experience.

Went up to Crossroad Village, in Flint, Michigan.  For those of you unfamiliar, it’s kind of like Greenfield Village (a city of historical reenactments) set in the mid to late 1800’s.  This time of year is specifically interesting there because they break period-character a bit and deck the entire place up in quite a lot of Christmas lights.

When I was a wee lad, it was just crazy to go to a village in the middle of nowhere and see people who still live just like they had 100 years prior.  I would take the train ride out into the country and wave to Santa, who would have, of course, been kind enough to grace us, and only us, with his presence as we rode the tracks, listening to the most traditional, old-timey of Christmas carols (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Now the illusion is a bit lost on me, but that’s not to say the experience is not enjoyable – far from it.  In my current mentality of “if there’s something I can learn, you best be sure I’m gonna learn it,” the magic of the holiday spirit has been replaced by super-fascinating historical facts.  As an example: The train you can ride (on the Huckleberry Railroad) is actually a real-life coal-burning engine from the late 1800s, pulling a dozen cars from the same period.  This, of course, is quite an accomplishment, since people have had to maintain the machines in working and aesthetic order for over a century.

A little side fact:  Reindeer are ticklish… let me explain.   In the spirit of all things festive, a reindeer had been brought in from a local farm for photo opportunities.  As you enter the barn, there is a sign near the entrance instructing you not to touch the reindeer as it is “too ticklish” to them.  Being a reasonable adult, I deduced that the comment was a friendly, whimsical way of keeping children from taking an antler to the face.  Of course, if I were to wait for the impressionable youth to leave I could have an adult conversation with the reindeer’s handler and explain that I would very much like to pet the reindeer and that I would not do something stupid like hang my coat on it.  She informed me the sign wasn’t actually a joke and demonstrated by VERY VERY LIGHTLY petting the reindeer.  If the reindeer could have spoken it would have said something akin to, “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?!  Get away from me.”  In conclusion, reindeer do not like to be petted.

While the antique train and the reindeer with personal space issues were fascinating, the clear winners of my trip were the historical actors.  It wasn’t so much the convincing illusion (they didn’t wear Wolverine work boots back then) but the nerdy factoids these folks had in their heads.  I got to see a 100-year old typesetting machine printing a news article, found out that frontier towns sprang up based explicitly on the vicinity to the blacksmith, and learned how to use a straight razor (which I was just recently gifted).

And, OF COURSE, there were some pretty nifty photo opportunities.  Here are a few of my favorites.

– Jon

Crossroad Village 2012_016 WEB RES

Crossroad Village 2012_064 WEB RES

Crossroad Village 2012_102 WEB RES

Crossroad Village 2012_127 WEB RES