Christmas Cookies

Every year for Christmas my wife makes these great molasses cookies – a ton of them, with homemade frosting.

We take a day and decorate them in our favorite themes and characters, and then we share with friends and family over the holidays. It’s a great little family tradition.

I’ve missed working on video stuff so much since leaving Albion that I grabbed my Canon 6D, a 50mm lens, and took some video and photos. It was fun to edit footage and make a little film again. The process is one of those flow state situations, and I do miss it.

In photography, think about photo projects or series as opposed to single images. So many of us simply capture little snippets of video of family, friends, and outings. With all the (free!) tools at our disposal, it’d be fun to see more people put in the effort to making video stories, not just clips.

My Appearance on JTV

Something a little different today.

I was on my local JTV broadcast of The Bart Hawley Show on Friday, talking about my portrait project Artists In Jackson.

Bart (and his wife Karen) were nice enough to have me on the show. So much of what they do at JTV is community boosting that my project made a lot of sense.

“Famous” in my hometown is good enough for me.

Albion Anagama Documentary

Ken Shenstone, owner and operator of Albion Anagama ceramics kiln in Albion, Michigan, is the focus of my new documentary, Albion Anagama.

Ken (with Anne Beyer, blurred behind him) gave me full access to his pottery studio last fall, and I followed his team through the whole kiln firing process.

The Albion Anagama kiln is the largest of its kind in the United States.

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think!

Albion Anagama

I made another thing.

It’s a documentary on the Albion Anagama, a ceramics kiln owned and operated by Ken Shenstone – the largest of its kind in the country.

Albion Anagama was my last big project for Albion College, a documentary about community connections and creativity, and how two Albion alumni (Ken and Anne Beyer) run this crazy kiln on the outskirts of town.

They fire up the anagama kiln once a year, and we covered it for the college last fall. I interviewed Ken and Anne as they were starting the kiln process, and followed them through the whole project.

The story is right up my alley: couple of artists, tucked away in the countryside, making great work with this esoteric process that goes back thousands of years. Ken’s studio is a great setting, the people were fun, and watching the magic happen was something special.

In the film, Ken and Anne talk about the process of ceramics, what it takes to get the kiln fired up, the kinds of art they hope to make, and what kind of legacy Ken hopes to leave behind. It’s a lot to cover in 30+ minutes, but we did it.

Making Albion Anagama was a lot of fun, and I can’t thank Ken and Anne enough for seeing my crazy idea through. This film was a different animal than my last venture, Bringing Back the Bohm: It features two people instead of a half dozen, and follows one project from start to finish as it happens. It’s a story on a smaller scale, but it’s still a good story.

Now it’s available for everyone to see. Please give it a watch. I’ll bet you’ll learn a thing or two, just like I did.

Portrait Editing in Lightroom

Just for fun, here’s a behind-the-scenes portrait editing session in Lightroom I put together using a photo from my Artists In Jackson project, featuring painter Colleen Peterson.

This is a simplified editing process, but I don’t spend a ton of time on each photo. I have my process down pretty well.

Contrast, exposure, sharpening, and VSCO. Just that simple.


Albion Circa 1995

Albion, circa 1995

One of the great parts about my day job is working with talented students on fun projects, like our recently-launched Albion 1995 throwback video.

The idea? What Albion College was like in 1995, told through music and technology.

The team did an amazing job starring in this thing, grabbing vintage (”vintage” – oy, I remember 1995!) clothing, and being good sports. For my part, it was all shot on an iPhone 5S, often using the VHS Camcorder app for the ‘95 scenes.

Check out the full video.

Bringing Back the Bohm

Proud to present my debut as a documentary film maker with Bringing Back the Bohm, the story of a dedicated group of community leaders coming together to restore a closed and dilapidated theater in Albion, Michigan.

Last fall, through my job at Albion College, I had a chance to photograph students learning about the theater’s restoration process. Elizabeth Schulteiss, the executive director of the Albion Community Foundation and lead cheerleader of the Bohm project, and I talked about how several documentary offers had fallen through.

Having done video work for the college, I volunteered to complete a short documentary for the theater in time for their grand opening on December 27, 2014 – the 85th anniversary of the theater’s opening in 1929.

The project was well outside my comfort zone. A five minute video I can do, but a half hour video?

Luckily I had lots of help from the Friends of the Bohm committee, my co-worker (and producer!) Erica, and the resources at the college.

The documentary debuted at the grand opening, after a rushed few weeks to get all the interviews and editing done.

I’ll say this: it’s a heckuva thing to see something you made on a real big screen. The film has its quirks, and I see lots of stuff I’d like to make better. But the point is, it’s done and out in the world for lots of people to see.

Learn more about this great historical community theater, and catch a movie there. You can order a copy of the documentary on DVD by contacting the theater, too.