My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

Off to my next adventure

 BACK IN THE DAY: Pictured (from left) is Paco, myself, James VanderMaas and Sue Vallenti. This photo was taken back in 2013 when the Pioneer Print Division won first place in the Inland Printing Association’s print quality contest for Black and White Under 10,000 Division. I helped calibrate the color values of the photographs so they printed their best on our press.

BACK IN THE DAY: Pictured (from left) is Paco, myself, James VanderMaas and Sue Vallenti. This photo was taken back in 2013 when the Pioneer Print Division won first place in the Inland Printing Association’s print quality contest for Black and White Under 10,000 Division. I helped calibrate the color values of the photographs so they printed their best on our press.

Recently I was faced with one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life so far, and after much deliberation, I’ve decided to move to Metro Detroit to further my career down there.

The decision was difficult because, for the past 8 years, I’ve worked alongside some of the most creative and, frankly, coolest individuals.

So for my last column, I’m writing for you, dear reader, to tell you about how I’ve grown as both a photographer and a person alongside the Pioneer family.

Let’s rewind back to 2009. I was a year out of high school and looking for work. It was a desperate time because I was dealing with flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease and the stress of starting college... without much money to my name.

Thanks to my mother, who spotted an advertisement in the Pioneer classifieds, I found the start of my career in the pre-press department of the Pioneer Group’s print facility.

 In May of 2014, I was able to help put together a photo package for a story about a deer ranch. This was the first time I ever held a fawn in my arms.

In May of 2014, I was able to help put together a photo package for a story about a deer ranch. This was the first time I ever held a fawn in my arms.

Up to this point, the only experience I had in the graphic design world was my ability to draw in Photoshop. Everything else I learned came through trial and error and the guidance of my peers.

I worked part time in pre-press and the creative department while attending Ferris State University’s graphic design program in the college of business. During my time at the print facility, I helped create the very plates that print the Pioneer and many of the papers and magazines you see on shelves all across the state.

The atmosphere, although at times stressful, was one of teamwork and friendship as I worked alongside the press crew to make sure publications printed well and on time.

 (From left to right) Co-workers and friends, Karin, Lonnie, Miranda, and myself take a road-selfie on our way down to Cedar Point on a much-needed vacation from work.

(From left to right) Co-workers and friends, Karin, Lonnie, Miranda, and myself take a road-selfie on our way down to Cedar Point on a much-needed vacation from work.

To this day I still consider many out at the print facility close friends.

However, many readers and friends know me for my current role at the paper.

In 2012 I moved into the editorial department at the downtown building, and began developing a whole new skill set. I’d already developed my skills as a photographer throughout college; now it was my chance to learn how to tell stories with video and graphic design.

Over the years I learned how to create video packages and design packages for online and print publications, and most recently I’ve been in charge of designing the Pioneer newspaper as well as leading a team of designers which lay out papers such as the Manistee News Advocate, the Huron Daily Tribune, and more.

The newsroom gave me a new respect for reporting, as on occasion I had to step out of my comfort zone and cover a few things myself. Taking the photos for the coverage I was working on was no problem, but learning to string together facts and tell a story with clarity are lessons I won’t soon forget. 

My time in the newsroom, working alongside many who I call friends, taught me to think critically and to always ask “why?”

Looking to the future, I hope to continue to improve as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer, and even as a writer. Working at the Pioneer has helped me build a foundation for my career going forward, and I’ll never forget the friends — no, family, who helped me grow into the person I am today.

My time here in Big Rapids is just one of the many chapters in my life, and I can’t wait to see where the future takes me.