A Legacy For The Ages.

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This Tuesday my golden retriever, Murphy Riley Kopacz, passed away.  He is 11 & 3/4 years old.

It’s sad.  The events of the last 3 weeks cycle through my head on a loop and it hurts.  But that’s where it stops.  Everything else is happy and, frankly, hilarious.  I just have to think about who he is and not about what happened.

He pooped on a shrew at the park in February.  That kind of thing doesn’t happen.  He hunkered down just as the little guy popped out of its hole to see what was going on… imagine what went through that shrew’s mind.  Hilarious.

We ran out of dog food one morning when he was about 5.  So we gave him a can of SPAM.  You ever see a dog try to eat a cube of SPAM?  It’s terrific.  Every time they try to take a bite it slides across the floor.

I was about 22 when I was hanging out with him on the beach.  A couple of rather attractive young ladies walked past and exclaimed how “OMG absolutely adoooooorable he was and if they could PLEEEEEASE pet him.”  Knowing precisely how to use my dog’s charm for my own gain I of course said that they could…. then he brought them half of a rotting dead catfish.  That one was probably funnier to him than it was to me.

Here are a few of the things he was by my side for:

  • The end of high school
  • 2 cataclysmic exes
  • The best relationship anyone could ever have (her name is Ashley and he ran to HER when he was in trouble).
  •            – Fun fact: Ashley was terrified of dogs until she met my 100 pound, teeth filled, carnivorous beast.  Now she loves dogs.  Yeah – Murphy did that.
  • 2 degrees
  • The entirety of the development of my career.
  • weight loss
  • weight gain
  • He was also the inspiration for me to undertake the longest-running project of my career.

He’s my hero.

If you knew him, you already knew how awesome he was.  For those who didn’t, here’s a look at Murphy

– Jon

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

 

I Made a Book!

Hey!  I made a book!

 

In fewer than 2 months, a handful of things will happen: Christmas pandemonium will be upon us, I will engage in my first “holiday break” in years without molecular bonding between myself and a Zelda game, and I will participate in a portfolio/career show – where I will be presented to prospective contract-ees much like a slab of cow-meat is waved at overweight Americans on the 4th of July.

But I suppose I’m clinging too strongly to my personal feelings about the whole thing.  In the end, I could wind up in a contract with Diesel Jeans or something… I guess we’ll see.

The super-awesome-fantastic-great-plus side of the whole ordeal is that it has forced me to finally make the portfolio book I’ve been avoiding for quite some time (years).  Of course the benefit of me waiting this long is that the thing is rather up-to-date.

I could explain the finer aspects of the ProLine Paper, the beautiful image-wrapped cover, or even the hours of nervous twitching as I meticulously determined which image to place next to which.  But, in the end, you probably don’t care and may not ever touch, caress, stroke, or in other words fondle this glorious, printed, eye-seducer.

So, I’ll just show you an Issuu render of the thing.
Enjoy!

– Jon

(OH- and in you’re interested in a superb coffee table book, shoot me an email and we’ll make some magic happen!)

 

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

Reconsideration

Well, folks – after a bit of soul searching, a sizable chunk of staring off into the distance, and an overpowering need to get out and take some pictures, I decided it’s time for mighty deal.

I want to create.  I want to create something for YOU.

So, for the next 5 weeks, the deal is as follows:  If you’d like some portraits shot, you get half off the session.  This includes, but is not limited to: you, your kids, you and your significant other, your whole family, your grandmother, your BFF, your dog, you AND your dog…. I think you get the picture.

– Oh and dude(s) – I come to YOU.  There ain’t no sittin’ pretty on a stool in a cheesy studio, with the wafting tunes of (whoever I think you might like), that smells vaguely of Kmart brand vanilla candle.  NO, SIR (or ma’am).  This all happens on your turf (or at a super cool spot if your turf is lacking in creative possibilities).  The point here is that we’re going to have an adventure!

But let’s not forget global warming and oil and what not… don’t make me drive 50 miles, people.

ANYWAY!  Here’s a little doodle I put together for this.  Have a gander.  Send it to your mother (it’s mother’s day soon and she’d LOVE a picture with her precious little bundle of joy), send it to your coworker, your neighbor, your dog… OK, don’t send it to your dog.  That was a bad idea.

I’m rambling now.  Here’s the picture.

I’m in the Detroit area, by the way.

 

– Jon