Making A List

Brooklyn at Night

If I were to do another podcast, here’s what I’d do:

Focus on my community of Jackson, Michigan. Leaders, makers, progressives, business owners, people doing good stuff in and around town.

Keep it a old school, noir-ish, late night vibe – like Letterman in a smoky tavern, shooting the shit with his guests, cocktail in hand.

But less of the promotional, I’m-here-to-promote-something late night TV stuff (we have a show in town for that). No, I’d want to talk with the person as a person, talk about our city, and talk about what keeps them going.

I’d start small, and tap into my acquaintances – people I’ve covered while doing my portrait projects, and people who are doing creative things in town. Then, build out from there.

And yes, a neon-themed logo.

Jackson Pride

This kind of thing just hasn’t happened in Jackson. Not historically.

This is the (or a) birthplace of the Republican Party, after all. Once fairly progressive, now very conservative. We’re a blue collar town – a small city whose claim to fame is a prison.

So when Jackson’s LGBTQ community scheduled the city’s first pride parade, I had to be there, camera in hand. And I brought my entire family.

The parade turnout was small, but the celebration was big. Flags, costumes, fun t-shirts – it had it all.

The parade had pride.



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.