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. I 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. It 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. Luckily, 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.
Michpics: 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