jackson

Jubilee

The Hot Air Jubilee is one of Jackson’s big annual events. Photos of hot air balloons are all over the Chamber of Commerce’s promotional materials, and for good reason: thousands of people head to Ella Sharp Park each July to watch the liftoffs.

For me, it never gets old. There’s magic in these giant sacks of hot air slowly inflating, and then leaving the ground, heading to Oz – or the outskirts of the county. It’s not just the balloons, either. The Hot Air Jubilee is like a small county fair, with junk food and rides and games of chance.

Tons of local photographers fight for the chance to get inside the launch grounds. I’ve been there, but it’s just as fun to sit on the sidelines and watch the show as a spectator.

These Never Never Land moments are rare, indeed.


In Conversation

Steve Berkemeier

This is what I miss about portrait projects.

The conversation, the sharing of experience, the laughing and joking around. Remembering local history. Swapping stories. Sharing a complete and consuming love of music.

Last time, it was about art and creativity, about the Jackson market and the struggles of being a small-city artist.

This time, it’s a lot of same, except you swap paint brushes and cameras for guitars and microphones.

It’s good to be back.

[Help the Musicians In Jackson project on Kickstarter!]


Let’s Do This: Musicians In Jackson on Kickstarter

Away we go.

I’m launching my new community portrait project, Musicians In Jackson, on Kickstarter today.

A week ago, I kicked off the project at my studio open house. But this project has been in the works for almost a year now. I’ve thought and thought about it for so long, and now it’s a real thing in the world that I’m working on.

It involves capturing local Jackson, Michigan musicians on black and white medium format film through the summer. I’ll capture our conversations, make portraits, and share the creative love in my hometown.

Why Kickstarter? There are film costs, and the studio space to rent, and photographic prints to produce. It’s also a way to preorder prints or the book when it’s released this holiday season. Really, it’s a way to support creative endeavors like these community portrait projects.

I’d appreciate it if you could help me spread the word, and make a pledge before July 16 on Kickstarter. I also hope you’ll join me for the ride.


Studio Open House

Tomorrow night I’m hosting a studio open house in downtown Jackson.

It’s partly to kick off my next portrait project, partly to test out the new space, and partly as a big “thank you” to folks around town who have supported my projects. Plus I have a few people whose portrait I’ve wanted to make for a while now. So, bonus.

Details at my Musicians In Jackson page. Hope to see you there.


Saturday In the Park

We wait all winter for days like this: sunny, decently warm, fresh breeze blowing.

In our new neighborhood, we’re surrounded by parks and playgrounds. Sparks Park – kind of Jackson’s own Central Park – is a block or two away, and we have several schools in the street next to ours, lousy with playground equipment. Our old neighborhood was very walkable, but it’s nice being so close to all this fun.

Now, when we go on walks around the neighborhood, the kids beg to go to one of the playgrounds. I have a feeling we’ll spend a lot of time here.

And that’s great. For today, we’re just happy to be outside.


Downtown Jackson, At Summer’s End

Toward the end of last summer, I took to the streets of my hometown for a solo photo walk.

I make lots of pictures of Jackson, but I hadn’t headed downtown with the intent to make a series in a while. With summer ending, and the light changing, I figured the hour near sunset would be fun to capture.

While downtown Jackson is on the upswing – lots of new restaurants, the brewery is booming, the road project is mostly done – you still feel like (as my grandmother would say) you could shoot a canon ball down Michigan Ave. after 5 p.m. and not hit a soul. The hope is that’ll change in time.

Here’s the first in a series of city photos focusing on Jackson, Michigan’s few downtown blocks.