Feature Journey: Trying to Capture Life as it’s Happening

Steve Czapiewski, Jim Schmalenberg and Steve Gamber add detail to their works right before a small break at the “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21 inside the Phoenix Cafe.
Sculptor, Jim Schmalenberg has his hands working, honing in on a live model’s striking features at the “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21 in the Phoenix Cafe.
Sketch and fashion artist, Janet Powell draws clothes for the nude model with colored pencils and the Phoenix Cafe’s weekly “See What Stacey Started,” live model drawing event on Tuesday, March 21.
Loyal Detroit Derby fan, Malcolm Mcvicar suits up in all green and excites the crowd at the Masonic Temple on Saturday, March 17 for the championship derby game between the Detroit Pist-Offs and the Dfunk All Stars.

Searching for an event to cover for this feature project was not a huge struggle. There are a lot of things going on all of the time. The struggle was to figure out what event would be interesting to photograph.

I had constant opportunity to shoot concerts, but my standard camera can’t balance the light well enough, and all of those photos would have turned out black. I had to look further and attend something out of my comfort zone, which was extremely intimidating, I might add.

Working part-time as a listings editor at the Detroit Metro Times gave me an upper-hand and I found one event that I thought would be interesting to shoot. However, when choosing this event, I was faced with my constant problem in my journalism endeavors, which is covering events that I find interesting, but an audience probably does not, which is something I need to work on.

I took photos at the Phoenix Cafe in Hazel Park. Every Tuesday they host a live model drawing event and I thought it would be interesting to capture people working on art because I feel like indulging in artistic self-expression is a vulnerable and interesting thing. I didn’t photograph the live model because he was nude, and even though I had permission to photograph the artists, I wanted to respect the live model’s wishes and exclude him in my project.

I’m not sure if the event was feature-worthy, and I still need to work really hard on looking at the world in a different light in order to spot interesting things people are doing around me.

For my enterprise photo, I just chose to take a picture of this guy in all green at the Detroit Roller Derby. I found my fear and shyness kept me from some really good shots, enterprise, and feature alike. I missed out on some shots I knew would be good because I didn’t know how to approach the people for their names, and feared to be rude by capturing them when they didn’t want to be.

I also ran into people denying me their names because they didn’t want a photo of them or their children on an internet platform that wasn’t their own, which made me feel invasive and regretful.

I need to work on understanding my objectives better and stepping out of my comfort zone still. I could use more confidence because people are more likely to comply when you approach them in a light, positive and confident manner, instead of a shy one.

Overall, finding cool events and finding interesting people to photograph wasn’t exactly a struggle, it was having the courage to shoot them and ask them for personal information that I found difficult, but I’m ready to work harder at those aspects, so I can get more comfortable and shoot better photos.