Featured Photographer – Debi Hollis

Debi Hollis spends her days as an interior designer, but when that is done, she also enjoys reading, cooking, World War II history, and has also volunteered for disaster relief in New Orleans. Debi can often be found enjoying her photography hobby with her Panasonic Lumix. Her favorite things to photograph are: doors, windows and interesting architecture. In the past year she has really begun refining her skills and hopes to take a class soon to boost her skills even more.

When asked to describe Michigan to an outsider, Debi responds, “A surprise gem! I would tell them about all the golf courses and lakes, the sand dunes and the whole “up north” experience: from Leeland, to Traverse City to Mackinaw. Many people don’t know that our agriculture industry is huge and Detroit is a city that now has many reasons to visit: great theaters, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, some awesome cocktail bars and of course, Eastern Market!” Debi’s favorite things about Michigan are, “The changing seasons for sure! Summers in Michigan are hard to beat – the lake living is awesome! Fall, cider mills and fall produce are terrific also!”

Debi’s top 5 places to visit are:

1. Detroit – to help change the perception that people have.
2. Leeland – Fishtown
3. The Sand Dunes
4. Mackinac Island
5. Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven – that strip along Lake Michigan

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Featured Photographer – Ann-Marie Roberts

Ann-Marie Roberts grew up with parents as professional photographers, but only recently began taking up the hobby of photography. In June of 2011, Ann-Marie took a picture of Brown Bridge in Chippewa Landing Park in Caro, MI.

This one photo sparked Ann-Marie’s life-long interest in photography and her love of nature. Now, a year later, Ann-Marie keeps busy with work, two children (Tom, 21 and Tina, 18) and photography several days a week. Even on her “off” days, her camera, a Canon SX40, is never out of reach.

Ann-Marie describes Michigan as, “…a state with many beautiful places to see, from the smallest of towns, to our amazing structures like the Mackinac Bridge and all of the lighthouses. [T]he beauty in nature that can be found pretty much everywhere you look, from the waterfalls in the U.P. to sinkholes in Alpena, and we cannot forget about the mysterious Paulding Lights in the U.P.!”

Ann-Marie’s top 5 places to visit in Michigan are:

1. Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
2. Bronner’s in Frankenmuth
3. Great Lakes shoreline
4. Tahquamenon Falls
5. Visit a lighthouse

Currently, Ann-Marie’s photography is a hobby, but she would love for it to turn into a profession. You can view more of Ann-Marie’s work at: www.missinde.com

Or check out her facebook page: www.facebook.com/MissindeIA

Featured Photographer – John Gessner

John Gessner first picked up a camera in 2006 to document college life. Intrigued by art, John took some art history classes, but found out that he was a “complete dullard with a paint brush.” In January of 2010, John purchased his current camera, the Canon 450d, and began taking photography seriously later that fall.

John is a self-taught photographer and enjoys learning from other photographers as well as taking inspiration from classic works of art. John is either out on a photo shoot or in his “digital darkroom” daily. When asked about photography, John says, “Photography is a way of life. It’s more than a hobby, but it’s not a profession – although I do sell an occasional print or set of note cards (which has its benefits as photography is very expensive!). For those that really want to make great images, it’s a lifestyle – you’re up early or out late, traveling and scouting locations, laying in the mud, getting eaten by bugs, getting frozen stiff, and a lot of other discomforts. But it’s worth it!” When John is not behind the lens, you typically can find him hiking, boating, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing or hanging out with friends and his wife, Hilary, in Traverse City. John works for the Grand Traverse Conservation District in marketing and outreach, and occasionally gets to use his love of photography for work – “which is great!”

John describes Michigan as a “Land of Abundant Beauty.” His favorite things about Michigan are the woods, beaches, lakes, people, farms, food, sunrises, sunsets, birds, bugs, and the night sky.

John’s top 5 places to visit in Michigan are:
1. Mission Point Lighthouse/Farmland tour on Old Mission Peninsula
2. Fishtown/Village Cheese Shanty/Lake Leelanau boat cruise
3. Leelanau State Park
4. Mackinac Bridge
5. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

To see more of John Gessner’s photography or to purchase a print, you can visit his website at: www.johnagessner.com

Featured Photographer – John McCormick

John McCormick of Michigan Nut Photography received his first 35mm slr camera at age 17, and has been “hooked” on photography ever since. Today, over 30 years later, John goes on photo shoots around the state 2-3 times each month and has made a few upgrades to his equipment since the original 35mm that started it all. John’s equipment of choice is: “(Camera Nikon D-700) – Lenses / 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR. and a 50mm f/1.8. Tripod: Manfrotto 055XPROB.” John has a licensed business selling stock image licensing, and fine art prints. He is also a micro-stock contributor and a Getty Images artist.

John’s skills have all been self-taught with the help of library books (before the wonderful invention of the internet!). John has been married to his wife, Shelley for 31 years and they have 3 sons, Matt, Mike, and Mitch. John and his family enjoy camping and hiking in Michigan.

When asked to describe Michigan, John’s response is a great one: “Some Landscape photographers say the Midwest has a lack of scenery. What they’re missing is a wilderness that stretches along miles of Great Lakes shoreline. Nowhere in the United States will you find an area that more reflects the dramatic seasonal changes, beautiful winters, colorful Autumns and springs. It’s a landscape continually changing. Michigan is beautifully diversified with forests and rivers, wetlands of immense size, rocky ridge-lined and sand dune shorelines. And with over 100 lighthouses, historic buildings and an ancient mountain range, Michigan offers more than any photographer could ask for. A weekend gives you a glimpse and a week a good look, but it takes years to see the majority of what Michigan has to offer.”

John’s top five places to visit are:
1. Leelanau Peninsula / Traverse City
2. Sleeping Bear Dunes
3. Mackinac Island
4. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
5. Black River scenic byway/ Porcupine Mountains.

If you browse through John’s albums on his website, you will see John’s favorite things to photograph are Michigan Lighthouses, Great Lakes shorelines, and waterfalls. Visit John’s website and browse his many fantastic photographs from all around this great state.
To view more of John’s great pictures or to purchase a print, visit him at: Michigan Nut Photography

You can also see many wonderful photos on Michigan Nut Photography’s facebook fan page.

Featured Photographer – Bob Simmerman

Bob Simmerman has been interested in photography and taking pictures since childhood. Now, 35 years later, Bob says, “[my] hobby has grown into a part time profession and a full time passion. A couple years ago I made the decision to ‘go pro’ and have never looked back. I am constantly seeking ways to improve my technique and I doubt that I will ever be satisfied, all the more reason to keep going. With every session I learn something new and am eager to try new things whether on the camera side or the editing side. I also enjoy looking at the work of other photographers as a source of inspiration and alternate perspectives.” Bob’s photography skills are self-taught with 4-7 photography sessions weekly.

Bob’s equipment of choice:
“I am currently using a Canon 5D Mark II. The lens I use most often is the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. For birding and wildlife photography, I use a Sigma 150 mm – 500 mm – F/5.0-6.3 telephoto lens. For portrait work I like the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM and the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Canon lenses. A Vanguard tripod rounds out the gear for a typical shoot.”

Bob’s favorite things to photograph are landscapes, birds, and Northern Lights.


When Bob is not looking through the lens, he is an analytical chemist for SOS Analytical in Traverse City, a state certified drinking water quality laboratory. Bob also enjoys Formula One and NASCAR racing, computer games, movies, and the Discovery ID channel.

When asked how he would describe Michigan to someone that has never been here, Bob’s answer was: “I think that instead of trying to put the beauty of our great state into words, I would show them a picture from each of our four seasons, taken at various locations and let those speak for themselves.”

Bob’s top 5 spots to see in Michigan are:

1. The Big House in Ann Arbor. It has been over thirty years since my first and only trip to a Michigan Wolverines football game, but I will never forget it—a definite must see!

2. Michigan International Speedway—NASCAR isn’t just for the southern folks, another stop on my must-see list.

3. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore…I can’t imagine this not being on any list of places to visit in Michigan.

4. Whitefish Point. While attending college, I made a trip to the Upper Peninsula to help paint a cabin and we passed the idle time by visiting the Point. I was in awe at the power and beauty of Lake Superior, a truly emotional experience.

5. Tahquamenon falls. Simply stunning, and I can’t wait to get back.

To view more of Bob’s photography, you can visit his website at: www.pandoracreations.zenfolio.com

ALLEE WILLIS MARCHES ON DETROIT



WHAT: As a special benefit for MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL, alumna extraordinaire
 
ALLEE WILLIS conducts the MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND through a medley
 
of her hit songs in the lobby of Detroit’s FOX THEATRE, with cast members
 
from THE COLOR PURPLE joining in for a sing-along.
 
WHEN: Saturday, April 9, 11:00AM to 12:30PM, SHARP
 
WHERE: The Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
 
 
 
GRAMMY, Tony, Emmy, and Webby award-winning/nominated songwriter, artist,
 
multimediaist, director, collector, party thrower—and native Detroiter—
 
returns to her hometown for a special benefit event at the historic and fabulous
 
Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.
 
 
 
An alumna of Mumford High School, Willis will lead the school’s marching
 
band through a medley of her hit songs in the lobby of the Fox. The Saturday,
 
April 9 event takes place during a weekend run of The Color Purple at the
 
theater, and cast members from the touring company of the Broadway smash—of
 
which Allee is a co-author—will join in for a celebratory sing-along. Event
 
will go toward new band uniforms.
 
 
 
The Allee Willis-composed songs comprising the medley—to be played first
 
instrumentally by the marching band, and then with TCP company members singing
 
along—are:   “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “In The Stone,” (all
 
major hits for Earth, Wind, & Fire), “I’ll Be There For You” (Theme from
 
Friends),” “The Color Purple,” “Stir It Up” (Patti LaBelle), and “Neutron Dance”
 
(the Pointer Sisters).   The last two songs connect Allee to Mumford
 
beyond her having gone there—they’re featured in Beverly Hills Cop, and on the
 
soundtrack, which won Allee a GRAMMY.   The film, produced by fellow Mumford
 
alum Jerry Bruckheimer, made the school famous when Eddie Murphy wore a
 
Mumford t-shirt throughout.
 
 
 
Allee was inspired to work with the Mumford High marching band after being
 
invited to conduct the 350-piece marching band at her collegiate alma mater,
 
University of Wisconsin, for the halftime show at the 2010 Homecoming
 
football game.   “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is a dream come true for
 
Allee, connecting her songs and The Color Purple to Mumford and her beloved
 
hometown of Detroit—all in the city’s most famous venue.   She also looks
 
forward to working with Mumford students on an ongoing basis.   And, this project
 
builds on work Allee started doing with the school in 2008, when she was on
 
a national radio broadcast as Mumford became the first school in the
 
country to receive 400 hours of historic audio tapes related to African-American
 
history that she helped to restore with Pacifica Radio Archives.
 
 
 
Tickets are $50 each, with attendance limited to 200 guests (not including
 
the band and event facilitators).   Sponsorships are available to help
 
underwrite the event, and will go toward “sponsored” tickets to allow current
 
Mumford students to attend, generating proceeds for uniforms, and covering
 
production costs.
 
 
 
FYI “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” takes place just before a matinee of
 
The Color Purple.   Event tickets do not include admission to the show.
 
Attendees may (but are not required to) separately purchase discounted
 
tickets for The Color Purple—in advance—by calling Fox Theatre group sales at
 
313-471-3099.
 
 
 
“Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is supported by Nickelodeon’s The Big
 
Help Grant Program.

Michigan’s Amazing People

Yesterday, we featured Kid Rock not only for his love of Detroit and Michigan, but for his giving spirit.  Do you know someone that is giving back?  If so, send us an e-mail at michiganisamazing@michaelflora.com and tell us about them.  It can be an individual, young or old, businesses large or small – anyone that is doing their part to make the community or a person’s life better.

Please tell us about your nominee and include your contact information in case we need more details.

We are going to begin featuring upstanding and outstanding citizens and businesses and would like all of the Michigan Is Amazing fans to tell us who is amazing to you.

Let all of your friends know, too!  Let’s celebrate all of the amazing people in this great state!