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

Head Of The Pack

I would apologize for three dog posts in a row… if it weren’t awesome.  But, as it is, dogs are pretty much the best thing in the entire world.

Everyone agrees?  Great.  Let’s move on.

So back at the beginning of the month I mentioned that I was doing some work for Pedigree’s Dog Adoption Project.  While that was an awesome experience, it was only the tip of the iceberg.  I got the Pedigree job as a referral from The Michigan Animal Rescue League.

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Back, about 2 and a half years ago, I did a bit of volunteer photographic work for the Rescue League.  You can check out some of the images in my fine art gallery (click that image on the right to link to it).  It culminated in a couple small photo shows at local galleries and a bit of work for the Rescue League to use on their site and such.

This time, while I was already digging in, I figured I might as well give it my all…. so here’s what’s going down:

The Rescue League needed a commercial.  This place has been helping you find your best friend for over half a century.  People should know how awesome they are.  So that happened.  Check it  –


While I was working on the commercial, one of the volunteers came up with the idea to strap a camera to a spoon and give peanut butter to all the dogs.  The whole concept made me feel like a child ’cause I wasn’t smart enough to come up with such an awesome idea… but that’s beside the point.  For your viewing pleasure, here’s a boat-load of dogs eating peanut butter:

All the media is fine and dandy, but I felt this time around it would be better to keep pushing and put together an event.  So here’s the deal.

My longest-running client owns a bowling center and restaurant in Commerce, MI – Wonderland Lanes and The Mad Hatter Pub.   He happens to also love dogs.

He’s graciously agreed to host a pet adoption fundraiser on May 5th.  There will be food, music, glow bowling, art sales, and – of course – lots of dogs and cats ready to love you forever.  Here are the details:

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You should totally come.  Even if you don’t bowl, the food is great, it’s a great cause, and how else would you rather spend a Sunday than playing with puppies and kittens?

See you there!

– 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