Posts tagged “Photojournalism

GOODWILL: Achievers of the Year

Year after year, I’m inspired by telling the stories of Goodwill’s Achievers of the Year. These are people who have had lives that aren’t as easy as mine but their desire to work hard and be good citizens makes me proud to know them.

And if you’re not familiar with all the wonderful things Goodwill does for this community, you should: http://www.goodwillwm.org/

Changing LIVES through the power of WORK.

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BAR MITZVAH: Mitchel

West Bloomfield, Michigan

It may seem odd that I’m starting this blog telling you that I was greeted by Mitchel’s mother with a bag full of goodies for my two-day stay as I covered Mitchel’s Bar Mitvah celebration. To me, it was significant. Here’s why. As I got to know these fine folks and witnessed their interactions with family and friends who came to celebrate this special time, I realized it was this type of thing that made the two days wonderful. Sure, the food was amazing, the attention to detail, all the special touches, but it comes down to genuine love and appreciation for those in your life. I was a part of something amazing.

A wonderful family. Full of life. Pets. Great food. Friends. Laughter. Celebration. Proud parents. Generations. Tradition. Good music. Games. More laughter. Fun.

It had it all. Oh, AND it had a hilarious hypnotist, a juggling bartender, some amazing violinists and the coolest ice sculpture I’ve ever seen.

Temple: Temple Israel 
Pre-ceremony dinner: Forest Grill
Reception: Franklin Hills Country Club
Food and desserts: Franklin Hills Country Club
Ice sculptures: Michigan Ice
Florist: Gerych’s
Violin trio: Nuclassica
Juggling bartender: Flair
Linens: Affairs to Remember
Event planning: Party Assurance
Hypnotist: JimmyG
Games: Game Crazy and Acme Partyworks

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The Human Firecracker

Coopersville, Michigan

Go early. Stay late. Listen. Those are three rules that I have learned were so important to be a successful photojournalist. Last week I photographed this wonderful assignment for the Detroit News. I got there early, stayed REALLY late and I did a lot of listening to one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a long time. When that gentleman collapsed among the crowd, slightly injured after his firecracker stunt, he yelled, “No photos! Only her!” I appreciate the trust that John Fletcher “The Human Firecracker” had in me to tell his story visually. Happy retirement to you, John, and thank you.

Read Francis X. Donnelly’s Detroit News story and see more photos here.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, walks around handing out T-shirts before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, walks around handing out T-shirts before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, takes a break from handing out T-shirts to snuggle with his dog "Little Bit" before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, takes a break from handing out T-shirts to snuggle with his dog “Little Bit” before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, dances before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, dances before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

The Pink Floyd tribute band "In the Flesh" takes the stage right before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

The Pink Floyd tribute band “In the Flesh” takes the stage right before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

From left, Al Potter, 45, of Muskegon, Marjorie Samlow, 46, of Fruitport, and Amy Van Hees, 29, also of Fruitport, listen to the band Eighth and Amsterdam  before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

From left, Al Potter, 45, of Muskegon, Marjorie Samlow, 46, of Fruitport, and Amy Van Hees, 29, also of Fruitport, listen to the band Eighth and Amsterdam before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, right, tips his hat to festival goer, Matt Keasey, 47, of Grand Haven before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's time to hang up my proverbial hat and take a bow one last time as a daredevil," he said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, right, tips his hat to festival goer, Matt Keasey, 47, of Grand Haven before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s time to hang up my proverbial hat and take a bow one last time as a daredevil,” he said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, jumps on a table to show off his firecracker suit before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, jumps on a table to show off his firecracker suit before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

A crowd rushes to the aid of Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, after he collapsed at the end of his performance. Fletcher performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

A crowd rushes to the aid of Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, after he collapsed at the end of his performance. Fletcher performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher suffered a bloody nose from the firecracker explosion. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher suffered a bloody nose from the firecracker explosion. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, waves to the crowd before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, waves to the crowd before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News


Saying goodbye

Muskegon, Michigan

I’m not sure I can even recall the first time I met Rev. Don Mathews and his wife, Grace. All I know was I remember the voice.  If you’ve ever heard Rev. Mathews speak, you know what I’m referring to. The voice may have been my first impression but it was their commitment to this community and its people that left the final impression.

Rev. Mathews and Grace left Muskegon earlier this month to move south to be near family.  They recently celebrated their sixtieth anniversary and then a reception was held at First Presbyterian Church so the community could say their goodbyes. If long lines, tears and more hugs than you can count is a testament to lives well-lived, than Don and Grace did just that.

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Don and Grace

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” – Andre Maurois

Next month, Don and Grace will celebrate sixty years of marriage. SIXTY YEARS.  And they still make each other laugh.  Don loves to read jokes to Grace who has a good sense of humor.  They still snuggle.  They still hold hands.  Their home is simple but rich with family photographs and mementos from their well-traveled lives. And they love. Yes, they do a lot of that.  Happy anniversary, Don and Grace.  You inspire me.

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GLANCE: Henry

Montague, Michigan

Meet Happy Henry.  No, really.  He’s the happiest baby I’ve ever met.  (And he just learned a new trick – – crawling!)  Just wanted to share a few photos for now but more to come…

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Mondays with Mom

June 24, 2013

The third Monday: As I made breakfast, I told Yuri and Harper to find something they wanted to do until it was time to eat.  Yuri grabbed a book (which he decided to try to read upside down and backwards) and Harper grabbed an animal — so typical and so expected but I love it just the same.

After we ate, I decided to dig out all the photos I could find of my father who passed away last month at a much too young age of 57.  I told every story I could remember to tell them about their Pap. You see, my parents divorced when I was too young to even remember.  I lived off-and-on with my dad until I was Harper’s age — just ready to start kindergarten.  But anyone who knows me, knows that my memories stay with me.  I told them how my dad would drape my little legs over the handlebars of his motorcycle and drive down the country roads of Unityville, Pennsylvania.  I told them how he would laugh because I was scared of the “eyes” that grew on potatoes when they rested in the bin a little too long.  I told them how he indulged my sweet tooth and let me eat sugar cookies for breakfast and how he would let me comb his hair hours at a time.  I told them how my dad teased me that, although I didn’t inherit his height or his wild nature, I sure got his ears.

Yuri captured the sweet photo of Harper listening to one of my stories and Harper took the photo of me smiling.  As I edited the images for this post, I looked at the photo of my dad dressed as a cowboy in his fifth-grade school picture next to the photo of me smiling and I noticed I inherited a lot more than Danny Kessler’s ears.  I see our smiles are the same.  My eyes crinkle in the same places.  Our chins are identical.  A few freckles dot our cheeks.  My time with my father was far too short but my memories will stay with me for a lifetime.

“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.”   –Oscar Wilde

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