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Posts tagged “detroit

#FID2012 Fashion In Detroit 2012 – Bachrach

A little late, but I’m going to run off a series of posts featuring images from the annual Fashion In Detroit runway show. The show featured looks from several designers, but due to prior obligations, I was only able to make the second half of the show and catch about 5 of the designer’s runway shows.

I’m going to keep the chit chat at a minimum, but I will start by saying that I enjoyed the Bachrach portion of the show. While I felt that some of the looks were a little too much, and some of the models clearly had to be rushed through being dressed, I’ve always enjoyed the type of clothes they sell there.

So enjoy this handful of images, and I’ll be back tomorrow and/or the next day with images from another designer.

#FebPhotoADay Day 26 – Night

The previous post, as well as this one, are dedicated to my city, Detroit. This is the overpass at Telegraph Rd and I-96. The oncoming traffic (the white light streaks) are cars exiting Detroit and entering Redford.

#FebPhotoADay Day 25 – Green

#FebPhotoADay Day 12 – Inside Your Closet

Still sick, and not really feeling like leaving the bed, the “inside your closet” topic was a good one for me on this day. This shelf on my closet tells a good story of the important things in my life: My city and my family. At this point, I pretty much accepted that I’d be using my phone for these pictures for the next couple days. lol


***Marital Bliss! Amy & Jamie!*** You SOOO want this for yourself!


(CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE! I highly suggest you do this…)

I had such a great time shooting Amy and Jamie’s wedding, or as I shall now call them, Ames and James. I met Ames and James at another wedding I shot (Carl and Michelle’s, which you may recall from a previous blog post), and I lucked out because they were just as fun to work with as Carl and Michelle were.

The cool thing about working with a fun couple like Ames and James is that their creativity helped fuel mine. They came up with great ideas for shots, and once the creativity juices got flowing, it helped me come up with some stuff that I may not have thought to do otherwise. Also, when the photographer and the clients are truly enjoying themselves, the magic will come through in the photos – and I feel like we struck gold with a lot of these images.

Ames and James also had some great ideas for places they wanted to take pictures at – as did Carl and Michelle. Never underestimate the power of great scenery. See the photo above and the photo below as an example. I also tried a few new strategies in regard to how I photographed certain things, and I absolutely love how one of those strategies turned out. I’ve sort of figured out a way to tell a story through the reception, and I think that will help enhance my wedding photos in the future.

The love and chemistry between Amy and Jamie comes through in these photos.  I had fun working with them, photographing them, and even editing the photos! They’re a great couple, and they’re great people. I wish them the best! Enjoy a few more pics, and I’ll catch you all in a couple days.

AND THE RECEPTION WAS BANGING! Look at Jamie hitting the dance floor like Puff Daddy entering the club! lol

Carl and Michelle’s Wedding

I first met Carl many years ago in middle school. I was probably about 11 years old at the time, and I was in the same grade as his sister. Fast forward … however many years later (lol) … and thanks to the wonderful creations known as Twitter and Facebook, I reconnected with his sister after … however many years. His sister was preparing for a move to the west coast, and I decided to stop by her going-away party prior to a photo shoot. I had not seen either of them in person since middle school. Carl approached me about photographing his upcoming wedding, and the rest, as they say, was history.

The best thing about photographing Carl and Michelle’s special day was that in addition to knowing EXACTLY what they wanted, they both have creative minds. They threw some great ideas at me for shots prior to the wedding day, and they were willing to do anything on their big day in order to get a great shot.

They had several locations they wanted to shoot at in between the ceremony and the reception – each location holding a special memory for them from their relationship. The Dequindre Cut was my favorite. The urban feel of the graffiti contrasted nicely with the elegance of tuxedos and wedding gowns.

The best part of the day was the fact that everyone involved was so easy to work with. The entire bridal party was fun to be around; and no one was uptight, nervous, or apprehensive about any shot that any one person wanted to get. It was a long hot day, but I feel the quality of the images was definitely worth the heat stroke. Check out a few more images, and I’ll be back in a couple days with images from a rooftop bikini fashion show. *Usher voice* Yeaaaaaaaaaaah man!!

Fash Bash 2011 at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Now in its 35th year, Fash Bash is a highly anticipated event in Detroit. Seeing as how this was my first year going, this held especially true for me. I’ve been back in Detroit for a year now, and I could spend an entire SEVERAL blog posts discussing the things I’ve experienced and learned in my time back. However, in the interest of being brief, I’ll say that I’ve become  somewhat deeply involved with the art/fashion community in the city, and Fash Bash sat atop my list of most anticipated events of this year.

Fash Bash was held at the DIA for the first time, and the DIA provided an amazing backdrop for a night of champagne, dancing, and of course, high fashion. The night opened with a party on the steps of the DIA, which featured a live DJ and open bar. The ambiance did not come cheap, however, with tickets costing as much as $500. The high costs did not stop the event from selling out, and guests came dressed to impress, the drinks were phenomenal, and the weather was perfect.

The party moved inside around 8:30pm, and the fashion show began promptly. I met with a number of struggles in trying to get good shots – the reasons for which I am only semi-clear on – and overall, my experience shooting the show, in my opinion, went poorly. Yes, I got some shots I’m proud of, but I was largely displeased with the quality of my images.

I have a pretty good idea of why this happened, and it largely revolves around my strong desire to not use flash during a fashion show. I also have a pretty – let’s just say “unique”  – idea for remedying this problem, but I’ll have to save it for Detroit Fashion Week in mid-September.

(I like the above image because it looks like she’s floating across the runway).

The party moved back onto the DIA steps after what was undoubtedly the shortest runway show of which I have ever been a part. It MAY have ran for half an hour, but it felt like about 20 minutes. Of course, what Fash Bash lacked in duration, it more than made up for in QUALITY. Fash Bash was also the absolutely BEST runway show I’ve seen since I’ve been back in Detroit, and I’ve shot quite a few. The quality of the clothes, and the professionalism with which the show was ran, make Fash Bash stand head and shoulders above any other fashion show this year.

Check out some more pics below, and check out my Facebook fan page (and LIKE it!) for a full gallery of images: http://www.facebook.com/michaellacombephotography


HoneyBoom Launch Party & Fashion Presentation

This past Sunday marked the launch of HoneyBoom, an up and coming online pop-up shop featuring vintage sportswear, streetwear, jewelry, & accessories ( http://www.hnybm.com ). Created by  Christine “Ris” Tena, the HoneyBoom Launch Party took place at The Alley Deck, which sits atop The Magic Stick in downtown Detroit. With downtown Detroit as the backdrop, HoneyBoom launched with beats by the great DJ Sicari, $3 margaritas and sangria, and a rooftop fashion presentation – complete with blow up swimming pool!

A good time was had by all in attendance, including yours truly. I always enjoy a good fashion show, hanging with cool peeps, and of course a strong drink or two (or five). Detroit’s finest models were draped in several different looks apiece for the fashion presentation portion of the party. I saw some stuff I liked, including the sunglasses on the model below. I don’ t think a man could pull them off, but I think they’re pretty dope glasses nonetheless.

My focus was solely on getting dope shots, and I think I achieved that goal. All of these shots were taken with my nifty 50mm f/1.4 lens (dats ma baybee!!), and I think my favorite shot of the event is the one at the top of this entry. I know Ris was probably upset about the rain, but the overcast sky provided a great light, and downtown Detroit provided an amazing backdrop. Taking great photos couldn’t have been any easier, but much credit is due to Ris for the great clothes – and whoever did the makeup did a great job too. So congrats to Ris on an unquestionably successful launch, and a shout out to the homie Jess Noel ( @JessNoel on Twitter ) for doing a great job organizing the event. Everyone involved did a great  job. Check out some more pics, and if you want to see the full 86-picture gallery, head over to my Facebook fan page (while you’re there, don’t forget to “like” me as well!). http://www.facebook.com/michaellacombephotography



A Little Downtown Summertime Fun!

Over the weekend, among many other things, I did my part to help an aspiring model get her portfolio together. It’s been a while since I’ve done a portrait session. There have been dozens of events, some self portraits, some sessions with my son, and even a couple weddings, but no portrait sessions. I was a little rusty, but I’ve learned a lot since the last time I did a daytime portrait session. I’ll be delivering the images to the client tomorrow. I spent several hours perfecting them, and I expect her to be fully satisfied. Still, you’re always a little nervous that they may not be satisfied. Let me know what you guys think, and I’ll be back very soon with some wedding images and some big news!


Mayor Hall Of Famer!

As an ardent supporter of my city, it was great to meet the Mayor. As a Pistons fan, it was mind-blowing. Dave Bing is arguably the greatest player to ever put on a Pistons uniform (in my opinion, he’s the 2nd greatest). He’s a Hall of Famer, and his number hangs in the rafters at The Palace. So, it was quite the honor to be in his presence. Although, I wasn’t nearly as honored as one of the interns in attendance, who actually bowed when he shook Mayor Bing’s hand.


The Many Faces Of The People of Detroit

I suppose that now would be as good of a time as any to post these images of Noah Stephens, creator of the popular The People of Detroit blog/photo project ( http://www.thepeopleofdetroit.com/ ). Noah recently announced via his TPOD site that he was accepted into the Detroit Creative Corridor Business Acceleration program. I’d first off like to extend my congrats to him. TPOD has flourished into an amazing project and site, and Noah has done a great deal of work combating all the negative imagery and stories about Detroit that are put out by the local and national media. He has earned and deserves every bit of recognition he receives, and I’m honored to call him a friend of mine.

Now that all the mushy shit is out of the way, let’s REALLY talk about Noah. He’s not all positivity, double rainbows, and group sing-a-long’s. Truth be told, he’s kind of a jerk. Getting Noah out of his cave and interacting with other human beings can be like pulling teeth, which is why it was surprising that we were able to get out one night and have this photo shoot. We’d often talked about collaborating on some nighttime shooting, and on this fateful night when all the stars aligned, Noah shaved his Moses beard, shed his tattered hobo rags in favor of a t-shirt and jeans, and we hit the streets for some nighttime shooting.

My goal for the night was to showcase Noah’s lesser-known personality traits. Actually, who am I kidding? My goal for the night was just to get a decent shot. One of the most difficult aspects of shooting at night is getting proper focus on your subject, and both Noah and I struggled to do just that.

My SECONDARY goal for the night was to showcase Noah’s lesser-known personality traits. The image at the top of the post was my favorite of the night. I wanted to capture him doing something goofy, and told him to grab his camera. My initial idea was to capture him making out with his lens (and believe you me, I did), but I ended up liking the above image much more. I find it to be a good mixture of Noah doing something goofy (stroking his lens like Dr. Claw stroked Mad Cat on Inspector Gadget), while simultaneously looking pretty diabolical.

I call this image, “Noah the Cynic.” I think this is the face that Noah makes at his computer screen while reading his Facebook newsfeed. It says, “Did you REALLY just say that? Are you REALLY that dumb?”

This is “Hopeful Noah.” He has hope for the future. Hope for the kids. Hope for the city of Detroit. He’s sees brightness on the horizon. All that corny stuff, and any other cliches you can come up with.

This is Noah’s “Come hither, you know you want this” look that he gives the beautiful women he encounters on TV when he’s not leaving his home. lol
If you live under rock and have not yet seen Noah’s “The People of Detroit” blog and photo project, check out the site at http://www.thepeopleofdetroit.com/

You can also check out Noah’s Flickr page for hi-res images from TPOD, as well as some of his work … http://www.flickr.com/photos/noahstephens/

And of course, you can follow him on Twitter … http://www.twitter.com/peopleofdetroit

Until next time…






















Bravo Bravo!: A Glutton’s Dream

It doesn’t matter what you’re a glutton for – food, alcohol, dancing, music, or all of the above – it was easily acquired and consumed in mass quantities at the 12th annual Bravo Bravo! event at the Detroit Opera House. I’m sure that even a few people who are a glutton for this…

… went home as satisfied customers.

Done in support of the Michigan Opera Theater, this year’s event hosted over 40 restaurants and beverage companies. Yours truly took far more advantage of the beverage companies than the restaurants. 🙂

All of Detroit’s finest came out to support and celebrate, including local celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, and the movers and shakers.

Every floor was lined with food from Detroit’s finest restaurants, as well as any type of alcohol that one could possibly imagine – all included in the price of admission.

I was even able to try some new liquors from my favorite companies, Firefly and Absolut. Firefly had a pink lemonade vodka drink there that rocked my world, and Absolut floored me yet again with their Orient Apple vodka. They shook my very soul to the core at an earlier event with their new Wild Tea vodka.

Shamefully, despite there being remarkable foods from Detroit’s finest restaurants, for some reason, I spent most of my night eating McNuggets. So, I can’t really speak on the food. It all LOOKED phenemonal, though. I just didn’t feel like waiting in a large line for a small sampling of food.

The turnout at this year’s event was amazing. The entire Opera House was PACKED, and I ran into several friends of mine, met some great new people, and snagged some great photographs.

Above is one of the event’s organizers, Piper Carter, along with DJ Sicari. I was also able to get some great photos of, and with, some of my friends. Here’s fellow photographer, man-about-town, and the undisputed Captain of F*ckery, Tafari, simultaneously dancing, NOT spilling his drink, and showing off his new up-do. lol

One of my favorite photos of the night was TECHNICALLY a mistake, but I loved the way it turned out. It’s me, and my buddies Nicole and Margarita.

If you missed Bravo Bravo! this year, SHAME ON YOU! Save up your money and schedule the next morning off work next year, because you won’t want to miss this event again. Check out some more photos, and I’ll post a link shortly to a full gallery.


Udst Udst Udst Udst … Movement 2011!!!

“Udst udst udst udst” is the written form of the sound you are likely to hear blasting into your eardrums at Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, “Movement 2011.” The term, coined by the homie Rufio Jones (@RufioJones on Twitter, follow him for great sit-down comedy), can be seen in its visual form in the image above. I went to the festival on all three nights, yet I inexplicably chose the hottest night to go downstairs, in this pit, among hundreds of sweaty dancing techno fans in order to capture this image.

“Movement,” or as we like to call it, DEMF, is an event that one has to experience in order to fully understand why it draws fans from all over the world. The Saturday opening drew nearly 35,000 fans, despite a constant downpour of rain all day and night. From noon until midnight, on 5 separate stages, for three straight days, Hart Plaza was shaken – literally – with sounds from the greatest DJ’s on the planet. People flocked from all over, despite torrential downpour and/or 80-90 degree temperatures to hear them and dance to them.

The image above is probably my favorite from the weekend, and I didn’t get it until the final day. For obvious reasons, she really caught my eye. She stood out from a lot of the other … let’s say, “extravagantly dressed” … individuals at the festival, and I really wanted to convey that in my photograph. While her movement is mostly frozen, there’s still some ghosting along the right side of her body (well, technically it’s her left and our right) that I feel is so suiting for this sort of event. She was a very nice girl, too, and liked all the photos I took of her.

As you can see above, the experience that is “Movement” is not limited to only the young folk…

… although the young folk still do their best to stand out. 🙂

And even Gumby’s need love, too! “Look ma, no hands.”

I absolutely can’t wait to make “Movement” one of the yearly events that I attend. It was an EPIC weekend, and I look forward to many more.

For a full set of images from Movement, check out my Flickr gallery…



























Art X Detroit Opening Reception

*In my DJ Pauly D voice* OH YEAH!!!! Good music, good drinks, and an amped-up art-loving crowd definitely makes for a good time! The jam-packed opening reception to Art X Detroit provided all that and then some.

Throughout the course of the night, I met all kinds of cool people (including some of the featured artists), and as usual, ran into some familiar faces. The young lady in the purple pictured below is responsible for all the paintings behind her!

I also ran into a friend of mine, Brian Rhodes. I met him at one of my best friend’s weddings (he was the best man), and I continue to run into Brian at any art-related event. Quite the popular fellow, he seems to know EVERYONE that I know. It’s a shame that, apparently, he’s completely bat shit. lol

Just kidding, he’s semi-normal.

The band was dope, too. There was  a lot of great music, and the lighting setup on stage provided some  nice photos.

Art X Detroit is off to a running start. Check out some more pics, and I’ll get with you guys tomorrow with images from the Sean Blackman concert at Fishbone’s. Live music FTW!!

Mash Magazine Launch Party

The highly-anticipated launch of Mash Magazine official took place at The Whitney last Thursday night. Detroit’s finest came out to support the magazine, as well as its Editor In Chief, Mashawnta Armstrong.

The drinks flowed, the music played, lots of networking and mingling took place, and a good time was had by all. I know I had a good time! It’s always a pleasure to meet new people who are passionate about the city of Detroit, as well as see all of the familiar faces I’ve become accustomed to seeing at such events.

As for the magazine itself, I was floored. I’m not the type to kiss ass. If I didn’t like the magazine, I’d either say so, or say nothing at all. So I’m truly being honest when I say the magazine is exceptional. The presentation, the articles, the photographs – all of it is top-notch. From the work by the stylists, to the quality of the paper the magazine is printed on, the passion of everyone who contributed is clearly evident. As I always say, I love it when people are passionate about this city, and it’s clear that everyone involved with this magazine loves this city.

I truly hope all of you support Mash Magazine. It’s coming to iOS and Android devices later this month, so most of you will have no excuse for not showing support. 🙂 Check out some more pics after the jump, and if you want to see all of the pics from the party, head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/dtownpistonsfan/sets/72157626290095617/ or check me out on Facebook at Michael LaCombe Photography.

“WALK” It Out

Saturday night, The Roostertail in downtown Detroit played host to the WALK Fashion Show. The event showcased the work of more than a dozen designers, and offered a night of food, drinks, and music.

The show was split into 3 portions: the urban portion, the couture portion, and the couture and high-fashion portion. Each portion was preceded by a musical performance by a local artist.

The Roostertail was jam-packed with eager fashion fans, and the show did not disappoint. Many portions of the show received standing ovations from the excited crowd.

The crowded venue did, however, present several obstacles for me as a photographer. For one, there were A LOT of photographers there. Photographers tend to be … how do I put this nicely? Assholes. They behave as they’re the only person there, ignoring any thoughts of common courtesy or decency – assuming those thoughts even occurred to them in the first place. So I had to spend the vast majority of the show “dealing with” less-than-savory individuals.

Secondly, The Roostertail sits off the water and has giant large glass windows for walls. This provided a stunning light for the show, and the sun stayed up fairly long. So, had the show started on time, the light would have been phenomenal. Unfortunately, by the time the show actually started, the sun was long gone, and the venue was VERY poorly lit.

Despite cranking my ISO way up and attempting to shoot at f/1.4, I was STILL not getting an acceptable shutter speed. So, I was forced to do something I have literally NEVER done while shooting an event: Use fill flash. I took the time to get the settings right to a point where the flash was as unobtrusive as possible. I think the results look pretty natural, and most people probably would not know I used flash had I not just said so.

The show had its issues, but all in all, I think the creators of the show would consider it a great success. Check out some more pics after the jump, and I’ll get back with you guys very soon with a “different” sort of post. 🙂

To see the full set of pics, head right on over here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dtownpistonsfan/sets/72157626381271210/

Imagine That!

Last week, I had the opportunity to cover the International Academy of Design and Technology’s “Imagine Fashion Show” in Royal Oak, MI. The event showcases the work of IADT students and alumni, and a “Best of Show” award is given to the top designer at the end of the show.

IADT packed the Royal Oak Music Theater full of eager fashion fans, and the show was definitely a hit. Hosted by William Malcolm and 2011 Miss Michigan, Channing Pierce, the show featured up-tempo music complemented by killer designs.

My night featured several highlights. For starters, I love getting to sit up front. Unobstructed up-close views are the bee’s knees.This enabled me to vary the angles of my photos as I pleased. Though I was working with a fixed focal length lens, I had the freedom to move around, so it wasn’t much of an issue.

Secondly, as has become the norm at any fashion-related event I attend, I got to see a lot of familiar and friendly faces. I’m very fortunate to have met so many awesome people since I’ve returned to Detroit. SO, follow them on Twitter! @NotoriousBYG @AsiaWillis @FO2LA and @TheSaleRack !

Third, there was alcohol. 🙂

On the photography side of things, shooting the event was fairly simple. While it was dimly lit – causing me to up my ISO quite a bit – I enjoyed not having to use flash. I HATE using flash at these sorts of events. I don’t like to tamper with the light that’s there, deal with recycle times, factor in various degrees of necessary light output, and all other sorts of tomfoolery that goes along with using flash.

All in all, I had a good time at the show and hope to photograph more fashion shows in the VERY near future. All of this will ultimately culminate in my achieving one of my major goals for 2011: Attending New York Fashion Week in September. So in closing, check out some more pics after the jump, and if you want to see the full set of images from the show, head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/dtownpistonsfan/sets/72157626171880917/

So, What’s Been Up With Me?

I’ve been loving life! That’s what’s been up with me! I’ve been watching “as my goals unfold right in front of me,” and it feels pretty damn good. The picture above was taken at Royal Kubo in Royal Oak at an old (literally old, lol) friend’s going away party. I hadn’t seen her in 16 years! Even though she couldn’t quite get my name right, it was still great seeing her! I wish her the best on the west coast.

Moving on, I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution. I don’t think they’re stupid or anything – if you need a fresh start in order to be motivated to achieve your goals, by all means, make a resolution. It’s just never really been for me. However, I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2011. I decided on it in November. So why not label it a New Year’s resolution? I didn’t wait until January to start on it, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, in short, the goal is to be able to leave corporate America and work full time on my own as a photographer; OR, to get a job as a photographer with a respectable publication. In 2 hours, it will be February 1st, and the progress I’ve made toward that goal in just 1 month is staggering.

I think the ball began rolling for me when I applied for press credentials to shoot the Design Define Detroit fashion show back in November. I was excited to be approved, and I was looking forward to shooting the show. I got some great images, but looking back, the show was far more beneficial for me networking-wise than it was for my portfolio. I met some amazing people at that show who I continue to stay in contact with to this day, and with who I hope to stay in touch with for many years to come.

Things just sort of snowballed from there, and I went on to shoot some great events. Then, out of nowhere, things REALLY began to take off. I got the job shooting the auto show (see the previous post) and all of a sudden I began being contacted about weddings and various other jobs. However, let me go off on a brief tangent here. I don’t want to make it sound like this was all just good luck. I put in a lot of work to get to this point – shooting, networking, shooting, and then networking some more. So I’d like to give myself just a little bit of credit. 🙂

One day, while I was on the networking juggernaut known as Twitter (if ya don’t know, now ya know…), I saw a tweet about a job covering the nightlife in Detroit for a website. I jumped on the opportunity, and almost immediately, I became the new photographer for after5detroit.com . To say that I love this gig would be a huge understatement. I get to go to major events for free, have drinks, mingle and network, and photograph all kinds of cool people. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this. So for the rest of this blog post, I’m going to show you guys a couple of my favorite pics from some of the events I’ve shot recently.

This one speaks for itself. He’s a PBR fan. lol I took this one at Delux Lounge downtown during the first Saturday of NAIAS. There was also a Kid Rock concert that night, and a Wings game. It was INSANE downtown, despite temperatures reaching “witch nipple” levels of frigid.

This is from the Plymouth Ice Festival. The entire bar is made of ice. It reminded me of Minus 5 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. If you look in the lower left on the menu, you can see the drink “purple haze.” Yeah, I got one. 🙂

This is an ass. And no, I’m not talking about my friend Steve. This was also taken at the Plymouth Ice Festival. They had an outdoor petting zoo for the kids. I saw a reindeer, too. No one seemed to believe that I actually saw a reindeer, so I twitpic’d it on their asses. Me – 1. Everyone else – 0.

This is a fun photo from Vodka Vodka out in Royal Oak. This guy posed for a picture with his girl (who is NOT picture here, lol). The girl who IS pictured here, I’m assuming is a friend of theirs. She didn’t want to be in the picture, so she stood to the side. After that picture, I peer pressured the guy to force his friend to take a picture, and this was the result. lol In other Vodka Vodka news, Absolut was there and they had a Wild Tea Vodka. It was a revelation. I also had some sort of vodka-infused cake truffle. It was also the bee’s knees.

Recognize that face on the left? It’s Natalie Martinez from Detroit 1-8-7! I ran into her at the grand opening of a new store called Complex out in Birmingham. She looks exactly the same in person!

During these events, I’ve met so many cool people, made some great connections, exchanged some business cards, and just had a helluva lot of fun! Now all I need to do is convince some of you guys to come out to the events I’m shooting so you can end up on the site… 🙂

Christmas 2010 and a 2011 Announcement

Christmas 2010 was a special one for me. My son was born in March 2008, shortly after Christmas 2007.  By Christmas 2008, he was too young to appreciate it. By the time Christmas 2009 arrived, he was at a decent age. He had some things he liked, but he was not yet able to express himself well. Additionally, he didn’t have any TRUE passions. He just had things that could hold his attention for a while.

In 2010, as Christmas approached, I began to anticipate it more and more. He gained a deep love for the “Toy Story” movies, which was special to me since I adored them as a child (and I still adore them now). His excitement when I gave him a couple of $8 “Toy Story” figures will forever be etched in memory. He still will not go ANYWHERE without at least a couple of his “Toy Story” figures. He doesn’t even like to leave them in the car while we go in the grocery store. Needless to say, I had big plans for Christmas 2010. My son did not disappointment me.

I don’t have any photos of him opening his Christmas gifts because I elected to record the event instead, but his gasp upon seeing his Buzz Lightyear toy made the wait worth while. Also, right before Christmas, he surprisingly really enjoyed another Pixar movie, “Wall-E.” While it is not my favorite movie by Pixar (the Toy Story movies are), I think it’s probably the BEST film they’ve done to date. I’m surprised that he liked it so much because it’s probably the least kid-friendly of all the Pixar films. There’s not even any dialogue for the first 45 minutes or so. Despite that fact, he asks to watch it DAILY.

I didn’t expect to be able to find any “Wall-E” toys since the movie is a few years old. I went to Target to do the bulk of my Christmas shopping for him, but I couldn’t really find anything that I felt would really wow him. I got him a pair of “Toy Story” shoes, then decided I’d head to Toys R Us to see what they had. I was blown away. They had the absolutely COOLEST “Toy Story” toys I’d ever seen. I wanted one for myself! They had a Buzz Lightyear that has a blinking “laser,” AND the wings pop out! But, I digress. lol (Although my birthday IS 2.5 weeks away. Ahem.) While trying to decide on which Buzz Lightyear I wanted to get him, I spotted several equally cool “Wall-E” toys! I knew my son would void his bowels in happiness to get both a Buzz Lightyear and a Wall-E, so I took the wack ass shoes back to Target and blew all my money on Buzz and Wall-E.

So yeah, it was a good Christmas for me, because it was a great one for him. 🙂

NOW, on to my insignificant announcement for 2011. I have a lot of BIG plans for 2011: Paris, Fashion Week in Sept., and ultimately retiring from Corporate America. In the mean time, I’ve decided to start a little project. First, I’d like to give a bit of background.

I lived in and around Detroit until I was 26 years old. During my adult years here, I did the same old stuff. I ate at the same places. I went to the same clubs every week. I hung out with the same people, instead of expanding my network and meeting new people. I had the freedom to do anything I wanted, and I did the same old shit. Then, I moved to California. While I absolutely loved Los Angeles (except the traffic), the city I lived in was a wasteland. There was nothing to do. Due to my situation, I was unable to meet any new people, and I rarely got out of the house. If I did get out, it was usually just to see a movie. During the 2 years I spent in California, I probably went out to a bar/club a grand total of 3-4 times. All of those times were in Los Angeles. While I did see some great sites, do some great photo shoots, and I truly did love spending time in LA, I look back at my time in California as an overall negative experience. It’s not a knock against California. It’s more of an indictment of my situation while I was there. My hands were tied. Tightly.

Fast forward to my return to Detroit. On the surface, returning to Detroit probably seems like a step backward. Again, you did not live in my shoes. You weren’t in my situation. Returning to Detroit presented a fairly large of pros and very few cons. Having been back for a while, I stand firmly behind the decision to return. While I’m not where I want to be just yet, I’m headed in the right direction, and things are FAR better here than they were in California.

The point? Due to my situation in California, I’ve gained a whole new respect for the culture here in Detroit. I slept on the great variety of things to do in and around the city. We have a great art community, and there are a large number of people working hard to bring Detroit back to respectability. I slept on a lot of cool restaurants, cool bars and lounges, and most importantly, cool people. Through Twitter, I’ve expanded my network and thus expanded my culture. I’ve become a lot more of renaissance man – a man about town, if you will. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the city and the diversity of its events and citizens.

Inspired by my love for the city, I’ve decided to tackle a new (and small) project in 2011. I’d like to photo-document a few of my favorite places. This documentation could (and will) include photos of the buildings/architecture, the employees, the people who frequent the establishment, and/or photos of whatever service they offer (food, drinks, etc.). Through the project, I hope to learn more about some of my favorite business. I’ll learn more about the people who work there, and I’ll learn about the people who go there. I also hope to find NEW places to frequent! So when I post about a place, if the posts inspires any of you to suggest a new place to me, feel free! As an unofficial kick-off to the project, here are the oh-so-tasty crab cakes from Centaur Bar on Park Ave downtown!

Design Define Detroit: My First Fashion Show!

This past Saturday, I was honored with the opportunity to shoot the inaugural Design Define Detroit fashion showcase at 5E Gallery. In addition to this being the very first Design Define Detroit show, it was also my first time shooting a fashion show as a press photographer. To say that I was excited for this opportunity would be a dramatic understatement. I was so giddy with anticipation in the weeks leading up to the event, that I must have tweeted, retweeted, and posted “all caps with many exclamation points” status updates on Facebook dozens of times.

The night before the event, I realized that I had no clue what I was in for. I decided to swing by 5E Gallery and check it out, just to see if I could get an idea of their setup. I wanted to know if they had white walls/ceilings. They did not. I wanted to see how big the venue was. It’s pretty small (which was good, but more on that later). If they were set up for the show, I wanted to get an idea of where I could position myself to get the best possible shots. They were not set up. Basically, I left there with no more information than I had coming in.

The day of the show, on a nervousness scale of 1-10, I was probably about a 2 – which is an all-time low for me. No matter how many shoots I do, I’m always pretty nervous leading up to them. Additionally, my nervousness didn’t really have anything to do with the show itself. I was mostly concerned about whether or not the lighting would be good enough during the show to allow me to not use my flash. I REALLY didn’t want to have to do that, and I was fortunate enough to be able to kick up my ISO and open my aperture enough to be able to shoot the runway portion of the show handheld with no flash.

I arrived at 4:30 pm during the media check-in hour and got my press badge. I immediately proceeded to twitpic it. 🙂 I took some stuff out to my car, then went back in and prepared for the show. Around 5, they opened the event with a discussion panel entitled “Sustaining Detroit’s Fashion Industry,” which featuring many notable names, highlighted by Detroit City Council President, Charles Pugh. Other notable panelists included Personal Brand Management Strategist, Hajj Flemings; Founder of Detroit Fashion Week, Brian Heath; and from Fashion Group International, Elizabeth Kincaid (who I also had the great pleasure of meeting). Here’s Mr. Pugh with the Design Define Detroit co-director and generally awesome person who I admire and would love have to coffee with even though I don’t drink coffee but maybe she’d be down for a beer, Piper Carter. I had the great fortune of being one of the few photographers who were able to snag this photo before Mr. Pugh scurried out.

Following the discussion panel, was the media hour. This was basically an hour for networking. Since I moved back to Detroit about 3-4 months ago, I’ve been to several networking events. I met more people and handed out more business cards during this media hour than I did at all of those events combined. I have a hypothesis as to why this was the case, but we’ll save that for another blog post when I’m feeling more “randy.” 🙂

I met a number of designers, stylists, models, and photographers – all of which seemed to be genuinely nice people. Whether or not they are actually genuine people remains to be seen. Unfortunately, during this time (or any other time, for that matter), I did not meet the other co-director of the show, Ris “Money” Tena, or any of the other great minds behind this production. It’s OK, though. There will be plenty of future opportunities for them to be blessed with the opportunity to stand within the glow of Your’s Truly.

After the media hour, the show began. I was smart enough to ask in advance where the photographers would be positioned. I was able to use this valuable information to position myself RIGHT at the end of the runway. I knew from watching numerous seasons” of “America’s Next Top Model,” that when a model gets to the end of a runway, she’s supposed to stop and pose, and then turn around and go back. Unfortunately, some of the models did not receive this memo … but again, I’ll save that for another “friskier” blog post. 🙂

I plopped down right at the end of the runway with my 50mm lens – initially – wide open at f/1.4. Half of the lights weren’t on, and I wanted to make sure I was able to keep up a decent shutter speed. Eventually, the other lights were turned on, and I was able to close down a bit to f/2 or f/2.8.

In my completely amateur opinion (but only amateur for the time being), there was a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) mix of the good and the bad. Some of the models were a joy to shoot. They came down to the end of the runway, struck some good poses, hit every angle (right, left, forward) and went to the back. The male model pictured above gave me great poses every time, as did the model pictured below.

Then, there were models who seemed as if their parents had made them participate in the show and they didn’t want to be there. They sauntered slowly down the runway with a blank and emotionless stare that one can only interpret as a look of disdain, then immediately spun around and left. Maybe that was their “look” and they thought it looked cool to look like they didn’t give a shit, but my portfolio and blog have no place for people like that. As they say in sports, if you don’t want to be here, GO!

There was a similar mix in regard to the pieces. There were some jaw-droppingly awesome clothes – or at least clothes that were being worn in a jaw-droppingly awesome fashion. There were also a lot of original pieces as well. I also took note of the hair styles. I noticed that Beauty Salon, the team behind the hair, seemed to have a preference for spiked hair or generally anything that was up and/or pointy (or in one case, rooster-y, lol). Conversely, there were also a few moments that, for me, inspired a “What the hell does he/she have on?!?!?!”

Throughout the course of the night, there were several intermissions that many people used as an opportunity to network. Not me. I wanted my spot. I knew that if I left, my spot right at the front of the runway would be gone, and I was having none of that. So I spent the intermissions cycling through my pictures, contemplating any changes I may need to make, and conversing with the photographer next to me.

As the show came to a close, I had one more bit of business to attend to: Meeting Piper! Throughout the entire night, my constant efforts to introduce myself were thwarted. She was either nowhere to be found, or being held up by someone else. There was even one moment in the night where I was talking to my friend and fellow photographer, Tafari, and Piper came right up to me and had me follow her. I thought, “Great, this is going to be easier than I thought!,” only for her to introduce me to someone else and scurry off. I was so thrown off my game by that, that I don’t even remember who she introduced me to. I was just left standing there mouthing the words, “But wait…” lol

Interestingly enough, while I was talking to … whoever that was (I’m actually quite ashamed that I don’t remember. I made it a point to try to remember everyone for future reference. I’m just horrible with names), it turned into a little miniature networking session. I handed out several cards, met one of the models pictured earlier in this post, and met the man pictured below. Don’t be thrown by his appearance, he’s far scarier looking in person. lol But seriously, he was a cool dude, and allowed me to take this image just for fun.

After I photographed the gentleman above, I ran into Tafari again and he invited me to Slows to go get something to eat. I was down, no doubt, but I still had that same piece of business to attend to: Meeting Piper!

Finally, just as I was about to give up, I caught Piper alone and was able to introduce myself. I was able to do so without gushing, I believe. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I saw her on “The Shot,” and I read she used to intern for one of my favorite  photographers, Steven Klein. So it was a great honor to meet her. As I mentioned earlier, I hope to see her many times in the future.

With that final piece of business taken care of, I was ready to wrap up the night and this wonderful event. Overall, I’d have to rate the overall experience at a resounding 9 out of 10. I met some great people, got to see some great fashion and modeling, and most importantly, got to take some photos! Now that I’m back in Detroit, I look forward to immersing myself more deeply in the art/fashion/photography community, learning as much as I can, and meeting as many people as possible. I’m deeply grateful for this opportunity, and I’d like to thank all parties that had anything to do with getting me into this show.


To see the full set of pics, including these, in all their hi-res glory, check out this slideshow and/or head over to Flickr!


Hennessy Artistry – The Time Of My Life

Black Thought (The Roots)

Well, on Saturday night, thanks to help from the homie Tafari http://mindspill.bygbaby.com and the wonderful and lovely Nina Moreno over at fusicology.com , I was given the opportunity to shoot the invite-only Hennessy Artistry event at Bert’s Warehouse. At about 8:45 pm, I received a call from Tafari telling me that if I wanted to shoot the event, I needed to be at Bert’s by 9:30. After a shave, a brushing of the teeth, and a quick whore bath, I was ready to roll!

Questlove (The Roots)

I got to the venue at about 9:25. It was raining, and quite chilly. Once Nina arrived, I went in with her crew and was immediately escorted backstage. As I swept through the venue and the crowd, I couldn’t help but notice my lavish surroundings. Did the curtains I passed through instantly transport me to South Beach or Las Vegas? The interior was beautiful, with an elevated and sectioned-off VIP. The bars were stocked with bottle after bottle of free Hennessy. The crowd was so…dignified – not a single Plies to be found!

Questlove and Black Thought (The Roots)

As I arrived backstage by the rear entrance, I couldn’t help but notice that Tafari was nowhere to be found. Immediately upon my arrival, I was told that the talent was about to arrive. I readied my gear, despite having no clue as to what was about to happen. I guess I expected the talent to make a grand entrance, surrounded by a swarm of paparazzi. After all, there couldn’t have been more than 5 photographers back there with me. Security quickly came up and said “OK, The Roots are about to come out. These 2 guys go first (*points to the 2 guys*), then you guys go (*points to me and the other 2 photographers near me*). Then, just as low key as you would expect, Questlove and Black Thought calmly walked in front of the backdrop and posed. No flurry of paparazzi. No “flashing lights” (well, not that many anyway).  Just “you take a few shots, now you take a few shots, make a fast, all done.”

Marsha Ambrosius (Floetry)

After The Roots left, there was a considerable amount of downtime, giving me an opportunity to text Tafari. “Dude! Where are you?!?! I’m backstage and we just got some set-up shots of The Roots in front of a backdrop!!” Tafari: WHAT?!?! By the time Tafari arrived, there had been no more guests. (I later found out from JD, formerly of Real Detroit, that we had already missed Travie McCoy.) During our wait for the arrival of additional talent, Tafari and I were able to chat with celebrity photographer, Johnny Nunez (Google him, baby!). The celebs LOVED him. Every one that came in greeted him as if he was family. Next up, was Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry. She was stunning, and I was able to capture the image you see above.

After Marsha, the celebs started to come through a little more quickly. We shot the cast of “Detroit 1-8-7,” as well as several of the Detroit Pistons. Toccara came through, and was mad cool. She laid claim to Tafari as her “side piece.” We also shot Jay Electronica (more on him later). Then, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest came through and blessed me with this wonderful mugshot! 🙂

Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)

All the was left now, was to wait on the main event. Each stop on the Hennessy Artistry tour featured a secret surprise guest. The first show had Erykah Badu. The second show had Bobby Brown. Who was Detroit going to get? To Tafari’s pleasure (and the displeasure of whoever is going to have to clean his underwear), it was Chaka Khan.

Chaka Khan

As Chaka Khan was leaving (and Tafari was picking himself up off the floor and towel-drying his crotch), we could hear the show starting out front. For the time being, work was over, and it was time for drinks. Well, at least for me it was. 🙂

I proceeded to the bar and made quick work of 3 Hennessy Apple’s (Hennessy and Apple Juice Cocktail). I chilled and watched the show for a bit, and it was awe-inspiring. You know how you can hear an artist on their CD and they sound phenomenal, but then when you see them live, they suck? This was not the case at Hennessy Artistry. The Roots and Q-Tip were BANGING!!!! They were BETTER live! The club was shaking, the crowd was hype, and the drinks were flowing. “This can’t be life!”

Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)

One of the coolest things for me, was that the celebrities who were not performing were just walking around the crowd with all the rest of us. I look in one direction, and I see Derrick Coleman. I looked behind me, and I see Toccara dancing. I look to my right, and I see the cast of “Detroit 1-8-7” living it up. As I returned to the bar, I walked right past Greg Monroe, Vernon Hamilton, and DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons. It was surreal.

The Roots

I decided that break time was over, and it was time for me to get some shots of the performances. I downed my 4th Hennessy Apple, only to realize that it was still relatively early – not even midnight. This would give me sufficient time to metabolize my drinks.

The Roots and Q-Tip essentially hosted the show. They never left the stage, and it was a blessing. They were unadulterated dopeness! Jay Electronica came out next, and man… dude was SPITTING. Q-Tip had to fan him off, because his bars were TOO hot.

Now, I’ve heard Floetry many-a-time, and I like and respect their music quite a bit. Still, I was not prepared for the eargasms I was about to experience when they brought out Marsha Ambrosius. She sounded absolutely phenomenal. Music to my ears, literally. Travie McCoy came out and really worked the crowd into a frenzy. As an aside, I’m curious. Is he no longer a member of Gym Class Heroes? And what’s with the “Travie”? Travis sounds better. #JustSayin

Travie McCoy

The crowd was hype, and everyone’s drinks had them on high. It was time for the finale. Q-Tip announced Chaka Khan, and the crowd went wild.

Chaka Khan

She was amazing. Still on top of her game, she whipped the crowd into a frenzy. I think I saw Tafari do the running man, for some reason. She wasn’t out for long, but it doesn’t take long to slap someone upside the head with awesomeness, and that’s just what Chaka did. As she left, the rest of the performers began playing to the crowd. Questlove autographed his drum sticks (I initially typed “drumstricks” and thought, “Wait, like chicken? No, that’s not right.”) as well as the tops of his drums, and threw them into the crowd. Tafari actually snagged one of the drum tops, nearly decapitating a poor defenseless child in the process. OK, maybe it wasn’t a child, and maybe she wasn’t poor or defenseless, but it was still pretty gangsta. Artists started filming the crowd on their iPhones, taking pictures of us, and shaking our hands (I actually got a handshake from Q-Tip, and Tafari got one from Chaka Khan). And, as Q-Tip danced off stage, the crowd began to make its way toward the exit.

Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)

Tafari and I made our way back backstage – scratch that, we returned back stage – for a little after-show mingling. I ordered a Hennessy Berry, just for a change of pace, and was reminded that not all change was to be believed in (thanks Obama!). That drink was dreadfully nasty. Most of the performers had retreated to their dressing rooms, but Tafari managed to snag a picture of himself with Marsha Ambrosius, as well as Questlove, with the help of yours truly behind the camera. It was a truly a night for the ages, and I’ll never forget it. I’m both thankful for, and appreciative of, the help of ANYONE who was involved in allowing me to photograph this event. I would say that I hope it’s not my last, but I don’t intend for it to be, so I won’t allow to it be.

Finally, if you want to see all the rest of the photos that I had no intention of uploading into this blog post due to space on the blog, the number of pictures, and my ferocious laziness… check them out in all their hi-res glory on my Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/dtownpistonsfan/sets/72157624964553555/ . While you’re doing everything I tell you, make sure to check out Tafari’s blog http://mindspill.bygbaby.com and follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/photosbytafari . Also, check out Nina Moreno’s site, Fusicology, as well http://www.fusicology.com Finally, keep in mind that you can click on any picture in this blog and be able to see it a “lil mo big.”