Self Assignments in January
Toiling away at the daily grind from Monday through Friday can wreak havoc on the photo output. This is especially true in northern Michigan when, in January, the sun waves goodbye at around 5:00 p.m. I’ll tell you what though, Michigan is an amazing state with unique events no matter the weather. Pro Tip: It’s been said that, “bad weather makes good photos.” I’ve brought up the importance of the self assignment before. Think of something and go photograph it, it’s that simple. When the sun starts to go down on any day of the week, some colorful blue-hour photos can be captured for sure. This is a magical time of evening. When the weekdays are complete, keep an eye on local weekend events for added opportunities.
During a recent weekend, a couple weekends ago in fact, I was scanning the local events calendar and noticed that a Women’s March was going on downtown and that the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was also having an event, about 45 minutes away, at the Dune Climb, all on a Saturday. Perfect! Anywhere there’s people, I’m game to check out.
The Women’s March began at 1:00 p.m. My plan was to make some portraits so I showed up early to do so, since portraiture would be trickier once the march began. Upon parking, snow began to fall which was magnificent. Even though I was of the mindset that portraits would be my mission, I couldn’t help capturing some downtown scenes with the fresh-falling snow. Even if you have a pre-conceived idea, never hesitate to be flexible and capture the photo possibilities in front of you.
After making some snowy images, I made my way to the Women’s March. There weren’t as many people there as there has been in previous years, but there were people. I noticed a couple people who I was interested in asking for a portrait and they both agreed. I was intent on capturing their portraits with other people around to show the environment and that’s exactly what I did. The two subjects I chose were more than agreeable to allow me to capture them in a photo. The light was beautiful and I was fairly happy with the images I made. There wasn’t a lot of time but that was ok, I knew what images I was looking for and I didn’t need much time.
Once my portraits were captured, the Women’s March began and off they went downtown. As a photojournalist, there are some nice images to be made but I had to get to the Dune Climb, plus I was happy with my portraits, so I chose to make my way westward toward the Dunes. Time management is essential in photojournalism, sometimes. I could’ve stayed longer at the march, but I wanted to allot some time at the Dune Climb so I left early. Staying with the March would’ve resulted in great March photos, but I wanted the variety of another event, therefore I chose to capture the Dune Climb event also.
It is the 50th anniversary of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which is great because not only was the celebration I was at, visually interesting, it had meaningful significance. People were climbing up the dunes and sledding down which is an extreme sport unlike most others. There were a fair amount of people there which was a nice surprise so I climbed the hill and started photographing. A number of people asked if I was the official photographer of the event. Pro Tip: I always have a plan of why I’m photographing something, ESPECIALLY if it’s an event with people. If you’re prepared with a solid response on why you’re photographing people, it will make the whole thing real and legit, which it should be. I told people that although I’m not the official photographer, I am a photographer and the event was too interesting to pass up. What’s important is that this was the true and honest answer and people could sense my enthusiasm.
It was a wonderful day filled with photos. Some weekends it seems like there’s nothing going on but when there is something happening, and you’re a photographer looking for cool things, try your best to make it happen because you never know what types of images you could make and they could be amazing!