Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Marjorie O’Brien

April 10, 2006

Grungy

Grungy, photo by I am Jacques Strappe.

Today, tomorrow and Wednesday Michigan In Pictures will talking with (and looking at the work of) Marjorie O'Brien of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Michigan in Pictures: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Marjorie?

Marjorie O'Brien: I am a senior in high school, attending Huron High, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I've lived in Ann Arbor from day one and it continues to be one of my favourite subjects for photography. Everyday that I go out to take pictures, I discover something new. I carry a great interest in not only photography, but architecture, drawing, writing, and music. GrassI am part of Huron's Symphony Orchestra in which I play the cello. Graduation this year will be bittersweet for me because I will miss the orchestra the most. Besides the arts, I am also interested in science — specifically earth science, geology, and biology. Thanks to my mother (a horticulturist) and father (an entomologist), I've been brought up in a scientifcally smart family. And of course I'm a huge fan of hockey. After graduation, I'll be headed north to Marquette to attend Northern Michigan University, where I'll probably be majoring in the fine arts.

Michpics: What got you started as a photographer?

Marjorie: I truly got started as a photographer in seventh grade when I was given an old SLR camera to play around with. Using a telephoto lens for the first time was something magical, and I was hooked. A friend gave me a Nikon N50 and for a year or two, that's what I used. Later I decided that automatic cameras really weren't my thing and for Christmas I recieved a Nikon FG. For a long time, that's what I used. My father's been a great inspiration to me. Almost every week (weather permitting) we go out on a small roadtrip to take photographs — it might just be around Ann Arbor or Washtenaw County, or it might be all the way to Benton Harbor and back. Sun Dappled ColumnIt all depends on what we feel like doing at the time; it's pretty spontaneous.

Michpics: I see that you shoot both film and digital. What cameras do you use and do you have a favorite?

Marjorie: I do use both digital and film, and I like both. I use film generally for my more artsy photos and digital for my straight-forward photographs of architecture. My digital camera is a Fuji FinePix S7000, which is absolutely great. I have a few film cameras that I should be using more often — a Nikon FM (that apparently needs to be repaired), a Nikon F, and a Hasselblad for medium format. I purchased the Hasselblad in the fall of 2005 and haven't had too much time to use it, but as the weather gets warmer, I'll be using it a heck of a lot more. Medium format is definitely my favourite.

Michpics: You seem to like photographing theaters. What's the attraction?

Marjorie: I've got a thing for architecture, but old movie theatres are special — they're a relatively new phenomenon and a symbol of our culture. They come in many shapes and sizes, and in so many different styles. They're also being wiped off the map by multiplexes and seem to be the most endangered form of architecture around here. I've kind of made it a goal to photograph as many as I can, at least in Michigan. I've done pretty well so far, I guess, but it is discouraging to visit towns and see their main street theatres in a state of disrepair. Sun Theater, WilliamstonLuckily, I think public awareness of the value of these buildings has been heightened — recently, many theatres have been restored and/or bought by societies and people who care about our past and future.

Michpics: What's you favorite Michigan theater and/or favorite photo of a Michigan theater?

Marjorie: This is a really tough question. The theatre that is the most close to my heart would probably be the Michigan Theatre here in Ann Arbor. It's a masterpiece of architecture and the product of a society who worked hard to save it from possible demolition. Thanks to this theater, I've got a lot of great memories. The inside — especially the lobby — is absolutely beautiful. I honestly have too many photos of Michigan's theaters to judge which one I like the most, but the Sun Theatre in Willimaston, MI, is one of them.

A Nice Demonstration of Crashing the NetMichpics: Why the name I am Jacques Strappe?

Marjorie: The love of hockey runs strong in my family and I have grown up immersed in the passion for the Coolest Game on Earth. I'm a big Red Wings fan. "I am Jacques Strappe" is just a bit of French Canadian hockey humour. My dad always used it as a lame joke and I think the name has just stuck. It's catchy, though, even if half the people I talk to don't get it. :D


Michigan Photographer Profile II

Prequel: Michigan Theatre Detail

Day I: Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Marjorie O'Brien

Day II: Michigan Photographers: Marjorie O'Brien Answers Reader Questions

Day III: Michigan Photographers: Marjorie's Favorite

12 Responses to “Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Marjorie O’Brien”

  1. Major Black Says:

    Marjorie-

    Very nice work! Congratulations on your feature!

    I look forward to seeing your Hasselblad work.

    Maybe you should give your Old Man some lessons.
    ;-)
    Mark

  2. michpics Says:

    Mark, I believe that the Grass photo above was taken with Marjorie’s Hasselblad. You can see that one and several others larger on Flickr.

  3. Michael M. Says:

    Marjorie,
    Who are your favorite contemporary photographers (alive) and why?

    Mike M.

  4. Marjorie O'Brien Says:

    Mike M.,

    I’m not sure I can answer that question. I don’t keep up to date with the photographers of today, at least none of the well-known or famous ones. I have some favorite photographers of old — Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz, to name a few. Basically, I don’t judge a photographer by their name or what they’re credited to. If I see a photograph and like it, then I like it. But that doesn’t mean I’ll automatically like the photographer, too. Especially today: making pictures is, generally, so much easier than it was a century ago. Photographers don’t stick to one or two general themes like they used to. Some stuff I’ll like, and other stuff, I won’t. I also get the feeling that many of today’s contemporary photographers try too hard — that is, they try to be too different, too minimal, too avant garde — and in the end, it’s not something I like all that much.

    Marjorie


  5. it’s very exciting to see your interviews, bio and pictures on my computer! If you are in my area again, there’s an old movie house, restored in Canaan, one in Millerton, and a covered bridge in Cornwall Bridge. Perhaps you have discovered them already. CHM

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    Great to see some of your work. You’re very good — hopefully, you’ll continue to keep up with it throughout your life. Photography is something very unique. It forces us to stop and look! And it’s interesting to view what you have stopped to look at.

  7. Phyllis Perry Says:

    Sharp photos. Excellent eye. Good luck as you go and grow forward in your career and life! Photography is
    a fine art and a gift given by God to only a few of us
    lucky souls! You included!

  8. Peter Grant Says:

    Thank You

  9. Carl Chapell Says:

    I am publishing a book on the historic boathouses in the Les Cheneaux Islands and am looking for someone with architectural photography experience to shoot these boathouses. Knowledge of light conditions is important for early morning and sunset shots of the boathouses as well as some interior photos.
    I project 20 boathouses to be photographed with maybe 3 color shots per boathouse on maybe 10 of these. The rest may be one shot each or maybe two.
    I will also need to have some black and white photos reproduced from historical archives that will be returned to the owners. I will use these in the book for historical information.

    My guess is, weather permitting, I will need 5 days of shooting outside and inside shots. Some shots from a boat will be needed.
    Photos will be shot the last week of July or first week of August this year.

    Can you give me an estimate of costs for this project?

    Thanks,

    Carl

    What kind of cost


  10. […] Monday (April 10, 2006) Marjorie will be the subject of our second Michigan Photographer Profile. We'll ask her some questions about herself and her photography and look at a bunch of her […]


  11. […] Marjorie says that they found a grove of these tasty critters and harvested a large bag full of them … and that they smell like apricots. View her photo bigger and see more in her surprisingly large fungus & lichen slideshow. There’s lots more from Marjorie on Michigan in Pictures including her multi-day Michigan Photographer Profile. […]


  12. […] more from Jorie on Michigan in Pictures including a multi-day profile that’s really worth your […]


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