As the holidays approach, we’d like to send our appreciation out to all. The business of photography has improved in Michigan over this last year, and we hope that the upward momentum that we’ve seen will continue. Detroit, including the automotive industry, seems well on the road to recovery.
Its been a good year for Blue Sky Photography, and we’d like to thank all of our clients; both those who’ve worked with us throughout the years, along with all our newest ones who gave us the opportunity to prove ourselves during 2012. We wish you Happy Holidays and an outstanding New Year.
As a commercial photographer in Detroit, the next assignment can be incredibly different from the previous one. One day I may receive a request to photograph a jet, and the next I’ll be quoting a studio or location car shoot. Industrial facilities are a common request as well as executive portraits or product shooting in our Troy based studio. It is a diverse mixture of needs in the photographic world, and as the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”.
I was able to experience some of that variety during the last two weeks as I was assigned to shoot an architectural commercial building in downtown Detroit, followed up by a luxurious homesite on Lake St. Clair, for a brick and stone company. I photographed the home from several angles, including detail photos as requested by the client. It was an enjoyable shoot, once more adding a little spice to the business of photography in Michigan.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but its probably worth repeating: commercial photography is a rush. I was recently in northern Michigan photographing a lumber mill for a repeat client when about three-quarters through the shoot she commented, “This was probably a dull shoot for you”. “On the contrary”, I replied. I had been just thinking how awesome it was to make a living at something I love to do, travel (even though its just to an out-of-town industrial site), and see and learn things we have a tendency to take for granted. Like what goes into creating a 2″x6″! It was really quite fascinating to see the entire process of giant timbers being off-loaded from logging trucks, debarked, ripped, dried, sorted, planed and bundled, before once more taking a truck ride to Home Depot or an alternative lumber yard. The automation process was a thing of beauty and I couldn’t but marvel at the ingenious minds that put it all together.
As a photographer living in metro Detroit I have to admit with a shade of chagrin, that I don’t often enter Michigan’s largest city except when passing through on my way to an alternative destination. There are of course exceptions: the annual pilgrimage to the North American Auto Show, the occasional Tiger’s game at Comerica Park, or a sumptuous repast with friends in Greektown.
However I recently found myself drawn to Detroit’s city center in search of suitable locations for photographing the new Fiat 500. I spent a good part of a day walking the streets of downtown scouting for the quintessential backdrop for my planned automobile shoot. Not only was it a successful photo scout and car shoot, but it was enjoyable to reconnect with the Motor City, not just by driving through, but by actually treading feet on pavement.
Mention to someone that you’re a professional photographer and chances are they may conjure up thoughts of you having a glamorous lifestyle, photographing beautiful models and traveling to exotic locales. And granted, there are some pros who actually live that fantasy. But for most of us, the glam jobs come only occasionally and the remainder of the year is filled with assignments that help cover the overhead, keeping the doors open until that next dream shoot comes along.
"Willow Run Facility"
I was hired this past year by a New York communications firm to shoot a project that was decidedly not glamorous by any stretch of the word. It was a three-week stint photographing the “old” General Motors bankruptcy properties throughout the state of Michigan. My job was to photograph these assets in their varied states of condition, from repopulated to vacant, from stages of demolition to vacuous parcels of land.
Although not the style of work I normally strive for, the assignment paid fairly well and there were no tight deadlines to contend with. I met several interesting people along the way, some who shared their stories with me of a lifetime of working in these factories and the deep sadness they felt in seeing them ultimately closed. I couldn’t help but think of all the workers who had once walked the floors of these plants, providing for their families and of the cycle of life that surrounds us, both in the living and in the manufactured.
From careening a three-wheeled bicycle with camera gear in tow through a darkened million square foot edifice, to being chauffeured in a golf cart through the historic Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti, we can find the silver lining in all assignments that come our way if we’re open to them. Mine came especially true knowing that I was retracing the footsteps of those workers from a generation ago who had built my father’s World War II B-24 bomber on the very floor that I now had the opportunity to stand with my camera poised.
Not a glamorous shoot, but for me, a memorable one.