Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Take a Drive and See Some Art Without Getting Out of Your Car

In 2018, a non-profit called Capturing Belief partnered with SAY Detroit Play Center to contribute to their vision to be the premier training center for young people to improve their community and nurture their individual growth. In 2019, they worked with a new group of young people and continued their mission to "use visual storytelling to shatter stereotypes, dismantle biases, and create universal belonging for young people of color". In 2020, they planned to partner with Inside Southwest Detroit and Ford Motor Company to continue and expand their in-person training program, but thanks to COIVD-19 they had to completely rethink everything to pivot their plans for the 2020/21 session. To do this, they took everything 100% virtual and put a big focus on mental health throughout their 15-week program. 

They called this new version of the program the #remoteAllyProject. The goal of these sessions was to create visual art and to help youth to process what they were going through as their school year was abruptly interrupted and they were forced into isolation by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 15 weeks, 19 students from Detroit, Kenya, France, and Italy were encouraged to maintain a positive focus while they worked with 8 different teachers to develop better communication and thinking skills while learning about the art of visual storytelling. 

The fruits of that effort are currently on display in front of the Michigan Central Station at Michigan Avenue and Vernor Hwy. in Corktown. You can drive through to see over 100 photos that the students captured for the project. It is an inside look at how the next generation is processing something that we are all still trying to work through in real-time. It is not only a powerful display, but a nice way to get out of the house to experience art in a year that has been relatively empty of artistic gatherings. 

The photos will be on display through January 31st, so you only have a couple more weeks to take a drive through the display. To learn more about Capturing Belief click here. To learn more about #remoteallyproject and to follow them on Instagram click here.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet Acronym

There are a lot of people photographing the rebirth of Detroit. The best way to keep up with the ever moving city is to "follow" the writers, photographers and artists that are documenting it. One of my newest favorite follows is a local photographer and writer named Amy Cooper a.k.a. Acronym. Her Instagram feed is full of interesting shots of the people, places, and things of Detroit. Her work is inspiring, much like the person behind the camera.

I had a chance to talk to Amy about her craft, her love for Detroit, and her blog, Detroit Ginger, where she writes about her experiences in Detroit. Read ahead to learn more about Acronym and do yourself a favor and start following her to see the world through her eyes.

HID-Why photography?
AC- "I've always loved documenting life. I started with photography at 13, and much like my father (who passed when I was 3), I always had a camera in hand, to the point of being annoying to all of my friends. Yet, as we got older, everyone cherished the stand-still moments we had together. It's almost like time travel, in a way. So after many years of capturing moments, the groundwork was laid to create ACRONYM, the alias for my photography. I chose the name because an ACRONYM stands for something, and that's what I hope to achieve with the photos I take."

HID- Who inspires you?
AC- "As cheesy as it may sound, the friends that I've made in the past year and a half. I spent a good deal of my time in Detroit running solo prior to then, and I have made some amazing friends with the most creative people I've ever met. They push me to try harder and be better, both as a person, and as an artist. I wouldn't be where I am now without them."

HID- What makes a good photo?
AC- "I will always hold the ideal that the feeling behind the photograph brings out how strong the photo is. Fact: Anyone can take a picture. The Detroit Photo scene has been over saturated with tons of "photographers" - and more power to anyone wanting to perfect a craft, but what makes a photo a good one is simply this: what does it mean?

It's kind of a loaded answer, but bear with me: I see tons photos from many artists, and some of them lack all feeling. It's a snapshot. But especially with my portraiture, I try my best to capture the person I'm photographing - even when asking them to be a character or a fictitious person. I want the person they are to shine through - and I think that's why it means so much to me. It infuriates me in some states when I see a photo of someone I know from a photographer and the person's personality is not reflected by the image."
HID- How would you describe your love affair with the city of Detroit?
AC- "I recently learned that my personality is what some people call an "empath." I feel and care deeply about many things. With that in mind, I have always been an underdog, and empaths tend to root for the underdog. When I started actively obsessing over Detroit, things were very different than they are now - but never the less, Detroit was, and still is, an underdog.

I've been able to be privy to some amazing changes happening before my eyes - some I've even documented. But different than any other place and any other state I've visited, Detroit has a unique pulse. There's a sense of energizing gravity. It's a place where I feel people can create their own history - their own world, and thrive in it.

I've seen the highest of peaks from the tops of it's skyscrapers, and I've seen the lowest of moments interacting with some of the people who have been crippled by the hard times - but all of that makes the city a living, breathing place, and I love it whole heartedly, the good and the bad."

HID- You describe yourself as a Detroit Urban Wildlife Photographer, can you define that term for us?
AC- "When I photograph Detroit, I don't try to sugar coat it. Even though I have dabbled in what people call "Urban Exploring" photography, I've never fully identified myself with that. Sometimes I just throw myself into the middle of Downtown, and walk, and almost every time, I find something new and beautiful I've never seen, whether that be a person, a place, or a new vantage point of the skyline. I would assume that's how it feels to a photographer for National Geographic, heading into the Sahara. The city is MY wildlife."

HID- How do you think the City of Detroit has changed in the last five years and where do you see it going next?
AC- "There's a ton of talk of what people have called the "gentrification" of Detroit - that whole "art/bohemian" lifestyle that's bringing more people to the city, and taking away it's grit and grime. Now, you can see patterns of this - so people aren't technically wrong, but at the same time, it's hard to say it's a completely bad thing. More small businesses have sprouted, and though, sure, we are getting a Nike Store, which is big business, I think that the small businesses are thriving more so here than anywhere else. There are many people bringing Detroit up by it's bootstraps, so to speak, and with that will come change. That's not bad if it means that we're thriving more than failing. Yet, we still have a long way to go.

From the Urban Exploring side, many of us are losing a lot of our cherished locations in this revitalization. Places like Book Tower and Lee Plaza, which have been recently purchased, are no longer accessible for a photographer. It's bittersweet, but in the end, those things will now be re-purposed into something more, to make the city better. That I can stand behind, even if I'm bummed I never made it to those spots."

HID- Dream photo shoot?
AC- "The first - Chernobyl in the Ukraine. I am a total nerd for things that are creepy like that, even if there's still radiation in the area. Second - Six Flags New Orleans. I've always been intrigued by the post-Katrina side of things, from both a historical aspect, and from a vacant/exposure aspect of what gets left behind by us as human beings. Third - I would love to both photograph and interview some of the big name artists in Detroit for photo and video. I would enjoy learning what they love about the city - and want to expose their talent to a new group of people through my work."

HID- What's your favorite photo that you have taken to date? 
AC- "It is hard to pick just one because I do both landscape and portraiture, but if I had to choose two, the first would be a skyline shot that I took from the Wayne State Parking Structure, that I flipped and mirrored to make a graphic image. It's crisp and detailed, and it's a skyline that has no other rival.
The other, a portrait of my friend Josh Kassabian. I dragged him out to Belle Isle and made him get in the water by the bridge, and I said something exceedingly corny, and managed to get his real laugh and smile out of him while simultaneously hitting the shutter. My heart seizes up every time I look at it, mostly because in that moment - I got him, 100%. That moment is frozen in time, and I will always remember him that way."
HID- What is Detroit Ginger and how did it get started? What is your involvement with it?
AC- "I created Detroit Ginger as a pet project, mostly because I was sick of being told what I could and could not write from my editor of my college newspaper. I did an interview with the ladies of the Detroit Jewelry company Rebel Nell, and they opened up to me about how they started from humble beginnings, and I felt exceedingly moved by them. I wrote the piece and turned it in, and my editor rejected it, saying she would not publish any more stories about Detroit from me. So I said to myself, "Fine, if you won't publish it, I will."

I felt so strongly about this story and how these brave and strong women needed to be highlighted, that I created a website and interface to share that feature, and it opened a whole new world where I could share my thoughts, the thoughts of others, and highlight people who deserved to be shown off, using the written word, rather than my photography. I've been told by many that when I combine the two, that is when I'm the most powerful."


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hey Detroit, Meet Jeannette Fleury

Photo by: Jeannette Fleury -
Taken at an animal park on the island Langkawi off the coast of Malaysia

The Detroit music scene is made up of a lot of different parts, the musicians who take the stage and entertain us are only one piece of the puzzle. For instance, there are people who design the flyers that advertise the events, promoters who get the word out, fans who attend the shows, and photographers who capture the moment.

Great photographers can capture the smell, the sound, the light, and the feel of whatever they are photographing. In fact, my favorite photographs are usually taken when the subject doesn't know that picture is being taken. That is precisely what attracted me to local photographer Jeannette Fleury. She has been shooting a lot of concerts, some party photographs, and every time I see one of her galleries (usually in Metro Times) I feel like I was at the event with her. She takes the most beautiful photos of people out dancing, laughing, and having fun. She doesn't just take a couple hundred party pics of friends standing together, she actually captures the night and shows you what it was like to be there.  So Detroit, meet Jeannete Fleury. I know you have seen her around clicking away, it is time to get to know a little bit more about the lady behind the camera.

HID- When did you discover photography and what drew you to it?
Jeannette Fleury- "When I was in the Fourth grade we took a family trip to Hawaii to honor my grandfather who had just passed. His final request was to have his ashes scattered at his favorite fishing spot. That was the first time I had ever been anywhere that looked different from all the United States suburbs I was accustomed to and kept begging my mom to let me use the family film camera she had brought. I guess because I wanted to be able to look at scenes from this place again and knew she wasn’t doing a very good job. One night there was an incredible sunset, everyone was outside on the beach and the camera was unguarded. So knowing full well I probably would get yelled at later, I snapped a photo anyway. I HAD to. When my mom developed the roll she found the picture of the sunset and said “I don’t remember taking this” thinking I was in for it I fessed up. But rather than be punished, I was designated the official family photographer from that point on. I did in later years get yelled at many times for taking too many photos of strangers and not enough of the family."

HID- What kind of equipment do you shoot with?
JF- "I have a Canon 5D, a 24-105mm lens, a 50mm lens I’ve been borrowing, and a 430ex Speedlite flash. I have quite the bare bones operation."

HID- What makes a good picture?
JF- "There is really no one way to answer this. To me it’s something other worldly, some deep down gut reaction response to a perfectly captured moment. Just like any medium, if it makes the viewer feel something, it’s probably been successful."

HID- What other photographers inspire you?
JF- "There are so many talented local photographers around Detroit its hard to pick. I follow the work of a lot of great folks. But of course the main one that stands out would be Joe Gall, I’ve been a huge fan of his work for years. He captures all that is beautiful in Detroit and America in general. In terms of concert photography I greatly admire the work of Scott Legato and Marc Nader."

HID- What types of things do you like to photograph?
JF- "I grew up with National Geographic, so before I could even read I was fascinated with the photos. My favorite things to photograph are people in other cultures. I have been really fortunate to be able to travel to a lot of different places, Malaysia being one of them. Though the trip itself was extraordinarily stressful for different reasons, I took some of my favorite photos there."

HID- When did you start working with Metro Times?
JF- "A little over a year ago."

HID- What is your roll over at the MT?
JF- "My role is to capture Detroiters doing what they do best, having a shitload of fun. I have been extremely fortunate to go to so many incredible (and sometimes extremely odd) events throughout this glorious city of ours. Everything from Arts Beats & Eats, to a fashion show at the Tangent Gallery that featured colorful and creative pubic wigs that was called “A’merkin Show” (Merkin being the term for pubic wigs. Google it)."

HID- You cover a lot of local events and bands, do you have a favorite band, venue, or bar to photograph?
JF- "My love of Flint Eastwood pretty much knows no bounds. They were one of the first bands I covered for MT and it was incredible. It was right around my birthday and I was going through a bit of a rough patch emotionally as I tend to do every year around that time. But as I learned that evening, it is impossible to leave a Flint Eastwood show feeling bad about anything. Jax Anderson has a way of uniting a crowd I have rarely experienced. Everyone just dances their asses off and forgets their worries, mostly because she demands it of you and also there is a song called “Moments” that demands it of you. I think I have seen them probably around five times at this point and what I have noticed mainly is that I don’t think I've ever seen one damn frown in the crowd.

The Loving Touch in Ferndale is my favorite venue for just about every reason. It’s cozy with an awesome interior, they have cheap drinks and a delicious selection of beers from the WAB, everyone that works there is extremely nice, and they have really great lights which makes for lovely photos."

HID- What celebrity or band would you most like to photograph?
JF- "Working with MT I have been able to scratch quite a few off my bucket list. Marilyn Manson was definitely a highlight this year. I have always wanted to photograph KISS to be honest. That would be incredible, but I don’t know how many tours they have left in them before someone breaks a hip."

HID- Tell us about the first time that you got to photograph a big show, how did you prepare for it? How did it go?
JF- "The first really big show I got to photograph was the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago in 2008 back when I was living there. It came due to a fortuitous passing along of my name by another photographer whom I had been working with on a local music blog called Radio Free Chicago. But the thing was, I was back in Michigan visiting when I had the missed call saying I was approved for a Media/VIP pass. I had been at a friend’s house imbibing….a fair amount of adult beverages at around 9 p.m. when I got the voice mail. I freaked out and immediately called my brother to beg him to drive me back to Chicago so I could make the second day of the fest. My brother being the beautiful soul that he is dropped everything to drive me all the way back to Chicago in the middle of the night and I am forever grateful. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life getting to share the photo pit with photographers from all around the country and from various big time news outlets."

HID- What is the best photo that you have ever taken in your opinion?
JF- "To date my personal favorite photo I’ve taken is one of the images I shot with my medium format camera I had in Chicago (which I’ve since had to sell for financial reasons.) It was on the very first roll of film before I knew how to use the camera properly, and I accidentally exposed the roll to sunlight when unloading it which ruined the entire roll except for about five images. My favorite is the one of some kids playing in the Crown Fountain, I love the light leaks that resulted from my idiocy."

Photo: Jeannette Fleury