Michigan Photographers: Marjorie’s Favorite


Goats, photo by I am Jacques Strappe.

This photo, taken earlier this year, is of the two goats at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor. Cobblestone Farm is a historical landmark in Michigan, conveniently located quite close to my house. Besides the beautiful house, there are a couple of barns and other structures on the property. It always has something great to photograph, whether it’s the animals, the mid-1800s architecture, or the historical reinactors who can be seen quite often during the spring, summer, and fall. These two goats seemed happy to see me and my dad and practically posed for us. The backlighting gives the appearance of glowing halos.

Thanks to Marjorie for doing a fantastic job as our second profiled Michigan photographer!

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

Michigan Photographers: Marjorie O’Brien Answers Reader Questions

Sunrise over Ives Lake

Sunrise over Ives Lake, photo by I am Jacques Strappe

Welcome to Day 2 of our profile of Michigan photographer Marjorie O'Brien.

Joel wonders if you'd say something about the influence of your father (argusmaniac) on your photography.

VW Bus, Fayette State Park, MIMarjorie: My dad is the one who has gotten me started in photography. I probably owe everything I've learned to him — thanks to my father, I've gotten impromptu photography lessons, gone on fantastic roadtrips, received great cameras — so I really thank him for that. We both seem to like the same subjects, though I think I tend to like architecture more than he does. He likes portraits; I like old buildings. At least my subjects don't fidget and aren't camera-shy. :D

Jimtown asks: Marjorie, you've recently returned from a trip to Austria and have been to Canada and a variety of states. What is your impression of Michigan after seeing a little bit of the world?

Marjorie: I still like good ol' Michigan. Austria was absolutely fantastic — it's so different from America and Michigan — the architecture, the landscape, the people. I definitely miss it, that's for sure. Everything there is on a grander scale, and when you come back to Michigan, it's just like, "Wow." But I prefer the good, old-fashioned Americana, and especially Michigan. I feel I can relate to the stuff here — not surprising, of course, but around here I can see the whole thing, the big picture, it seems like. In Austria, everything around you is beautiful and amazing and it leaves you in awe — but it all blends in, after a while. All the cathedrals and palaces start looking the same. Here, there's nothing like that, and when you do see something great, you know it. Mustard FieldThe day after I came back from Austria, I slept; the following day, I went to Ypsilanti's Depot Town to get reacquainted with American architecture.

Matt asks: I know you collect cameras. Is there a camera you'd really like to add to your collection?

Marjorie: Actually, what's amazing is that I haven't bought an old camera for quite some time! (I think…) I have too many cameras, and any unlucky visitor at my house will see them all over the place. My friends think I'm crazy (they also think I'm crazy for driving all the way to South Haven to take a picture of a theatre). My dream camera to find at a yard sale for a few bucks would be the Kodak Bantam Special — because it follows that streamline moderne styling, and I'm crazy about art deco stuff.

Matt also asked this doozy: If you could travel anywhere in the world, to any time in history to take a photograph, where and when would you go and why?

Marjorie: That's a tough one. There was a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where the two of them traveled back in time and took pictures of the dinosaurs — of course no one believed them. Ypsi-Arbor BowlGoing all the way back to the Jurassic Period to snap a few photos of T-Rex would be pretty cool, but I'd probably have to say America, before it was spoiled by European settlers. It would have been amazing to see Michigan's old forests, or the Great Plains out west, before they were destroyed.

Annie wonders: Who's got the best sign in Michigan?

Marjorie: Taking pictures of old signs is a relatively new hobby for me, so I can't answer this question with much authority. I would say that in Ann Arbor, the best sign I've seen is that of the Ypsi-Arbor Bowl. There's a great sign in Chelsea, the Pontiac sign. And then there's the Casler Hardware sign in Jackson.

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

Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Marjorie O’Brien


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