Soul of Detroit

By Documentary, Photography

More than just the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin embodied female empowerment, was a civil rights activist, a god-fearing woman and to many, Auntie ReRe.

She was — and always will be — the Soul of Detroit.

People from all over the world came to Detroit to celebrate Aretha Franklin’s life after her passing on August 16, 2018. For two weeks, the doors at New Bethel Baptist Church, her father’s church, would be blocked by signs, flowers and other mementos left by fans and loved ones.

For three days visitors to the Charles H. Wright Museum and New Bethel Baptist Church were allowed to pay final respects to the Queen of Soul, where she lay in her spectacular gold casket, dressed to the nines with more outfit changes than an award show host. The lines around each building wrapped for blocks, but people waiting in line were full of life and song as they waited their turn to walk past Ms. Franklin.

After her funeral, the procession of pink Cadillacs led the 1940 LaSalle hearse, which also transported her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, Rosa Parks and several other notable Detroiters to their final resting places. Aretha Franklin is entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, alongside her father and sisters,Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin.

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March for Our Lives

By Photography

What will it take to change gun control laws? The nation’s youth. All over the world, March for Our Lives rallies were organized to bring awareness and an end to the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Three schools that have made headlines over decades in our nation. Columbine was not the first, but it was one of the first most notable and widely covered by media. Sandy Hook followed years later, one of the most tragic school shootings our nation has seen. Between the two of these, and after Sandy Hook, you would think our government would figure out a way to better regulate guns, to keep them out of the hands of those that would do harm. But six years after Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary school and killed 20 teachers and students, our nation was ripped apart by another shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Something about this shooting was different though. The teenagers that survived the Parkland shooting, had been alive for Sandy Hook. They have had enough, and the opportunity to change everything lies with them. Millions of teenagers will turn 18 by the midterm elections, and even more will be of voting age for the next presidential election. After hearing the voices today, we can only hope they continue their fight and make their voices heard at the polling booths.

We have lost countless numbers of lives to guns. When will enough be enough? When will our government listen to the people as our students try to get through a day of learning, without fearing a massacre? According to Everytown, on an average day, seven children or teens are killed by guns. We have the highest homicide rate from guns than any other developed nation, almost 25 times the average of other countries.

It’s time for change, it’s time to listen to the voices begging for help. The Detroit March for Our Lives rally brought thousands to the Riverfront. Let’s hope it brings thousands more to the polls.

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Detroit Love Story

By Photography
313 DAY

Every year on March 13, we celebrate the city we love.

This city, that has seen tremendous victories and failings, is still embraced by a people who hold it close to their hearts. From the grand facades of towering historic buildings to the stillness of Belle Isle and every corner of the more than 142 square miles, Detroit is a place to fall in love, and fall in love with.

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Female Strong

By Photography, Portraits

March marks Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day falling on March 8. But women across the globe are showing just how strong they are day-to-day.

After a year of women coming into their own, standing strong against a patriarchal society, and pushing for major changes in our system, we can only hope the movement keeps growing. But we cannot step back and let others fight the good fight. Continue making waves, teaching our sisters, daughters, nieces, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and even the men in our lives, that we will not sit still and look pretty. Now is the time to motivate, support and unite one another.

We have, for too long, been told we are inferior to our male counterparts. That we have to have sex appeal to get ahead in this world. We’ve been told to take the abuse, because a woman’s voice should never be louder than a whisper. Now is the time for screaming from the mountain tops and letting the world know we have something to say, and we refuse to be quieted.

The following photos document the women I call friends and family, as well as the strong women that I have met through my life. Each one has their own struggles, their own goals they are trying to meet, but each has given me a small glimpse into their strengths. Though they might not know it, they each have given me the strength to become the woman I am today.

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Year in Photos

By Photography

We have nothing to lose and a world to see.

This year has been nothing short of incredible. I started the year off with two amazing and strong women that I consider sisters. I then traveled to Miami to escape the frigid Michigan winter, and soon after coming home, booked a flight to D.C. The year has been filled with travel, though not enough in my eyes. This coming year will be filled with even more hopefully, and more exotic places.

I spent the year with great friends, photographing the city, friends, and events. It was filled with protests, milestone life events, festivals and music, and jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets. I was given the chance to photograph some of the strongest women I have ever known, and they gave me power to believe in myself.

The new year is almost upon us, and I cannot wait for it to start. I am excited to grow as a photographer, and as a human, and will share my journey with you all as I go along.

Happy New Year and may 2018 be filled with love, friends, and beautiful photos. 

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Hamtramck Yacht Club Canoe Race

By Photography

On the inner coastal waters of Hamtramck (aka Joseph Campau)…

Going on what I believe to be it’s seventh year of madness, the Hamtramck Yacht Club Canoe Race was hosted today during the Labor Day festivities in downtown Hamtramck. From infants to elderly, everyone came out to cheer on their favorite “boaters” and attack them with water balloons, water guns, and buckets of water.

A competition involving push-carts that look like canoes on wheels, the race pits patrons of different bars against each other in a race down Joseph Campau.

This is the first time I have attended the event, and I was left laughing the entire time, and so impressed by the competitors and organizers, as well as the bystanders. Everyone came together at the end of the races as well to clean up all of the debris before the victors were awarded their prize.

The Fowling Warehouse beat out Amicci’s Pizza for the coveted Hamtramck Ship’s Wheel, with their one-of-a-kind “canoe”. By far the prettiest canoe was Bon Bon Bon’s Boat Boat Boat, and the best costume had to go to Kelly’s Bar.

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Sun Up to Sun Down

By Chasing the Sun, Photography

Chase the Sun

Sometimes, you have to step back from life. From the day to day, and the despairing thoughts that run through your head. You have a moment where you either sink or swim. Those are the times when you have to look at everything around you, and just breathe.

Wake up before the sun, before the birds even. When the moon is still in the sky and not ready to give up the night. Find a beach, the woods, or even a rooftop, and take in the world that is still sleeping. Although you might feel alone in the stillness of the morning, you will be greeted by that first morning light, that spills onto the horizon with no abandon.

And when your day is coming to an end, and your body is telling your to rest, face west and watch the sun give up the sky for the moon and stars. Breathe in the vibrant colors just as the sun kisses the horizon goodnight.

The photos taken below were from a day in Port Austin, MI. From sunrise to sunset, and a vintage camper show in between.

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Sleep on the Floor

By Photography, Portraits

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear…

I have had The Lumineers “Cleopatra” album in my head since it was released in 2016. Ever since I heard Sleep on the Floor, I have had a vision for a photo shoot. Lainie jumped at the chance (quite literally) to come down to Detroit and lug around my dad’s old suitcase for it.

The album, which is based off of the life of a real woman who was the taxi driver of the lead singer. When I saw the videos, out of order, then in order, I was blown away and decided it was time to take my idea and put it into motion.

Lainie and I walked around with the suitcase, being honked at and looked at funny, daring ticks to latch onto us, and dodging seagulls. At the end of my part of the shoot, she saw my hula hoop in the backseat of my car (I had just moved and it was one of the last things that I still had to take out). She grabbed it and off she went, hula hooping at Belle Isle’s fountain for a good hour and some change, until the lights came on.

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A Detroit Summer

By Chasing the Sun, Photography

A Detroit Summer

Detroit summers are something amazing as the city comes alive from a long cold winter. But the island quickly becomes the spot to go to enjoy the summer breeze, ice cream trucks, and laying out in the sun while looking across the river at the iconic skyline. It almost feels like you are in another place. That this little slice of heaven isn’t part of a hustling city with a bad reputation. And when people tell me that they’ve never visited the island, or that this is their first time, I stand in shock.

Belle Isle calls to me like a siren that I can’t ignore. The sounds of the water against the shore, people laughing and playing, the smell of grilling food and fresh cut grass, and the feeling of complete peace the minute I cross the MacArthur Bridge all make it such an amazing spot. It amazes me that people have yet to experience it.

I’ve started my summer off with the usual sunset spots that I crave: going out into the water with my camera above my head to get low angle shots as the sun falls below the horizon, and as my friends watch from the shore. I’ve also spent weekends soaking up sun with friends, grilling and laughing about nothing in particular, while people watching and enjoying the company of “family”.

Nothing compares to it, and as I write this, I’m looking out my window at the sunset, wondering if I should go get one more shot from the island.

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Put a Ring On It

By Photography, Weddings

Put a Ring On It

I had a friend recently ask me to help photograph his proposal. I was beyond delighted and humbled that he would ask me to photograph such an important event. With a three-piece orchestra, a bouquet that weighed more than a small dog, and a beautiful view, he brought her in to her absolute shock. Congratulations to Doug and Hil, I can’t wait to see what is next for the two of you!

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