Title: Baring It All.

So many fabulous drag queens photographed during Pride Month. I’ve been WERKING it hard and honored to have had numerous queens from RuPaul’s Drag race in front of my camera. Here is one of my favorite images that I took of Gia Gunn during Chicago Pride.

Chicago Pride. Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.

Title: Antiquity.

Midland, Michigan should probably get an award for “The Most Colorful Court House” - hands down their court house is probably even more colorful than my closet! I jumped for joy when I noticed nature granted me with a clear blue sky to help backdrop my photos. Why would that cause me to jump for joy you ask? Well… I’ve been meaning to try out the built-in ND (neutral density) filter on my Fujifilm X100 and the clear blue sky was meant for an ND-filter. I can say I am very impressed with how it reacted and many killer shots came out of my walk around Midland. I left town thinking that I should probably put an ND-filter on my 5D Mark II some day - I mean I have one and it just sits collecting dust in my camera bag. 

ND (Neutral Density) Filter:

A neutral density filter of ND filter can be a colorless (clear) or grey filter. An ideal neutral density filter reduces and/or modifies intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally, giving no changes in hue of color rendition.

The purpose of standard photographic neutral density filters is to allow the photographer greater flexibility to change the aperture, exposure time and/or motion blur of subject in different situations and atmospheric conditions.

Title: Tridgescape.

The Tridge is the formal name of a three-way footbridge above the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawasse Rivers near downtown Midland, Michigan. The bridge was constructed in 1981 at a cost of $732,000 and took 6,400 hours of labor. The site also marks the starting point of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Although being mainly a footbridge, bicycles, skateboards, and in-line skates are also allowed on the bridge.

The Tridge is one of my favorite places to stop when in Midland and if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods I highly recommend that you check it out! 

Title: Dungeons & Dragons.

Architectural images shouldn’t just be aesthetic and graphic; they should also provide dynamism and movement – so play with the lines, the light and the shadows to provide interest and consider the hierarchy of levels and areas.

Unlike other forms of photography, exciting architectural images can be produced in all weathers. A church on a clear day may strike the viewer as pleasant but maybe a bit bland, revisit it when there’s a storm brewing overhead or a mist rising from the damp earth and the results can be altogether more intriguing.

A well trained photographer understands and knows how the various weather conditions affects their shots. I prefer an overcast day when producing less traditional artistic shots. Like the photo above an overcast helped pop out the textures, details and colors.

Title: Lou-E Loon.

The first rule of Minor League Baseball… you need to have an amazing looking Mascot! Lou-E Loon of Midland’s Great Lakes Loons is just that mascot. His costume is full of great colors, many wonderful details and my baseball cap goes off to whoever was responsible for designing him. He is a keeper!

Title: OH YEAH!

Stencil graffiti
 makes use of a paper, cardboard, or other related media to create an image or text that is easily reproducible. The design is cut out and then the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray or roll-on paint.

Paint is applied across the stencil to create an image on a surface below. Multiple layers of stencils are sometimes used on the same image to add colors or create depth. Since the stencil stays uniform throughout its use, it is easier for an artist to quickly replicate what could be a complicated piece at a very quick rate, when compared to other conventional tagging methods.

Stencil graffiti subculture has been around for the last thirty years. John Fekner is one of the first artists to place his work outdoors, starting in 1968. Fekner’s stencil Wheels Over Indian Trails greeted motorists and international travelers arriving in New York City at the Pulaski Bridge Queens Midtown Tunnel from 1979-1990. The message remained untouched for 11 years, until Earth Day 1990, when Mr. Fekner, feeling the piece had run its course, painted over it.

Keep in mind stencil graffiti is illegal and many of the members of this subculture shroud their identities in aliases - Banksy, Jef Aerosol, Bride Campaign, Blek le Rat, Vhils, 157, Skeczh, and Shepard Fairey are some names that are synonymous with this subculture.

Title: crowd-pleasing.*

Things to consider when you are out shooting at an event. First, unless you are the official event photographer or a media person; you may not have complete access to all areas of the event you are shooting. Be aware of this and respect the boundaries of the event. If you are unclear; ask an official for some clarification. Second, understand that if you are there taking photos of your child, husband, wife, relative or friend that there are likely more people there doing exactly the same thing. Play nice and share the space to allow everyone good access. Last but almost certainly most important is that above anything, the performers/people on stage are the first concern at all times. Don’t distract them, don’t get in their way and don’t become a probem by getting into areas you shouldn’t be in. It can be disruptive and creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone.

Etiquette and event rules are part of shooting at any event. It is very important that you know what they are before you get yourself set up to shoot.

*SIDE NOTE: This photo is being featured in the May issue of Electronic Musician, rock star! 

Title: The Cooldown.

Did you know that the number one outdoor location outside of a studio is a brick wall? From pristine and clean to gritty they are the place to be apparently.

As a side note… one of my favorite hobbies is looking at other photographers photos of people and brick walls when graffiti is present. From overlooked swear words on a kids portrait to people next to gang tags - good stuff.

Shot with a Canon EOS 6D and a EF 35mm f/1.4L lens in Detroit, Michigan.

Title: Mixed Blessings.

Many people have different perceptions about the meaning of sense of community. Sense of community is a feeling members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that member’s needs will be met through their commitment to be together.

Every year for the past 5 years The Creston Neighborhood Association hosts ArtBattle at The Sazerac Lounge to benefit our community and neighborhood. Every year I come away from this event with a sense of purpose and a feeling that I’m helping to make a difference. I say it all the time… Art-Folk gets things done! Last night I felt a strong Sense of Community in the room last nigh. You could feel the membership to the community, the influence of peer, newcomers, and equals, and more shared emotional connections than you could count colors. My painting raised $300 for the association and I could not be happier.

Title: Serving Fierce.

In 2014 I had the pleasure of making images with a lot of RuPaul’s queens during Pride Month. Manila Luzon is getting a shout out for serving face and more importantly facial expressions. From here wide open eyes with lashes for days to the way her mouth freezes within every frame. Her signature white stripe and funky costumes also provide with the pops of colors needed to blow her off from any background.

Outtake from Kalamazoo Pride 2014 / Kalamazoo, Michigan. Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.

Title: Plate-tectonic

I have nothing but love for the D. Detroit has become my second home and I’m constantly blown away by its people, their vision and pride. It upsets me to hear negative comments from people and the media who have never once visited Detroit. People need to stop address Detroit as a broken city, they need to stop asking when their population or economy will hit rock bottom - there is more to the city that automobiles you know, and they need to stop treating it like a Third-World City. Detroit is more than a city, it’s an attitude. Time to check your attitudes people.

Title: Spiritualism. The city of Detroit, Michigan gets a lot of bad publicity and she was recently handed some good press in the form of a commercial. I have seen the good and bad, but then there is good and bad in any city. I think people often forget that every city no matter where you live has its ups and downs. My partner is a Detroiter and throughout the months of commuting back and forth from Grand Rapids to Detroit I have seen a city full with life. I have seen people refusing to leave the city… these Detroit Doers know the only way to make their city better is to do something. They don’t complain, they don’t bitch, they just do! I have seen a city that could care less about your nationality, religion, sex or who you sleep with… what matters is that you are Detroit. I have not only found inspiration in the D but the city has fueled me with a less talk and more do mentality. 

Title: Exoticisms.

A true photographer knows that you don’t have to carry the latest Nikon, or the latest Canon, with all the fancy lenses just to take a picture. If you are stuck in this mindset you’re sure to miss out on real life scenarios… some of my favorite shots are pictures of the unexpected and items that are normally passed upon.

In this day and age of photography one has many options of cameras… from super-saver Point & Shoots to higher end DSLRs and micro-compacts. Hell, you can even break out that camera on your cell phone (or iPod) to capturing real life.

Stop thinking photos need to be editorial worthy, or even blog worthy - there is a lost artform in just taking pictures to take pictures. Now grab a camera, any camera, and go capture life. Don’t worry about becoming the next Ansel Adams, you should be more concerned about today’s surroundings. 

Title: walk on.

Photography is very important and the power of a good image should never be underestimated.  A good image can change our outlook in the quickest of moments. It can stop us from drinking or smoking, it can make us desire and buy. Or, it can just make us stop and ponder. Either way, it forces us to engage in its subject and form our own opinions. It does this by doing what it was created to do…be seen. 

A month or so ago I had the honor of speaking in front of a group of English students at Grand Rapids Community College. The subject was me, myself, I and everything in between. The twist to the interview/process was that I was only allowed to answer questions that were asked by the participating students. I would not embellish any further information that did not pertain to the question. I really hate being interviewed as I always get worried when anything is written about me - yes I might have been sweating bullets over this one! I can say that Mark Spohn not only got me but he understood everything that I spoke about to the class. His artist profile on me has me feeling like a rock star and I have been smiling all day! Would you like to know more about me? THEN READ ON!

Title: The Look of Coffee.

The key to an amazing portrait is the ability to capture looks. I dare say getting the look is more important than capturing the person… let me explain.

When taking a portrait, the given in the photo scenario is your subject is a person. This doesn’t change, they are there and they will be in all the photos you take. Your job as the photographer is to not just capture the person, but to set a mood and capture their essence. 

I feel the photo above of my favorite barista Amanda is a perfect example of this and thought I’d share.

Shot with a Canon EOS 6D and a EF 35mm f/1.4L lens at The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand.

Title: Nightlife.

One of my favorite streetscapes from Prague… and yes, I never ran out of things to photograph while there!

Location: Prague, Czech Republic. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III / EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. Settings: Exposure 1/50, Aperture f/2.8, Focal Length 48mm, ISO 800, Exposure Bias -1/3 EV, Exposure Program Aperture-Priority AE.