2015 | Year in Review

It was a big year. A big, hairy, crazy year that I loved (nearly) every second of. It was a year of a whopping 50% more weddings than the previous year. Of moving into a new Detroit studio, and falling deeper in love with the city every day. It was another year of chasing those stories that I love so well; of the couples, of the families, of the makers and entrepreneurs. And most importantly, it was a year of watching my baby turn into a toddler, and my wife into the best Mom on earth. 

I traveled to the PNW (twice), Texas, Chicago and Nashville; and Northern Michigan more times than I can count. Guys, 2015 was such an insane ride, a test of how much I could handle, of how big I could dream and still have it all work out. And the good news is, I still love this job and the people I meet more and more every single day. 

With all that said, welcome to my brand new website. A brand and vision nearly 5 years coming since my last website was launched. My old logo and website didn’t tell the story of where this journey has taken me in the last 7 years. This job and my life surrounding it have shaped me; have made me see more things and dream more dreams and be inspired by pretty much any situation I’m thrown in. I needed something that was so inexplicably me, and also a website that functioned like it was the 21st century. I can’t even begin to thank my good friend Phil Selander enough for all of the tireless work he did on my new brand. I’m so, so happy that this is all finally out in the world (and that I can start blogging again).

Below, you’ll find some (read: a lot) of images. These aren’t the best, or the most perfect images of 2015. They’re the images that made me feel something. That weren’t just things or traditions or decorations or distractions. These were real people, living their real life; I just happened to have the honor to be there to capture it. 

Let 2016 be the year of more real adventures. More connections and more intimate weddings. More travel and discovery and always pursuing my craft. This year is already shaping up to be incredible with the clients I’ve got on the roster. There’s room for just a few more and if you’re reading this and have a family or are getting married anywhere on planet earth: I want to tell your story. I truly can’t wait to.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following along, I can’t wait to show you these full stories and more. Soon, very soon.

The Kids

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I setup a makeshift studio in my living room a couple weeks back to photograph my twin nieces, their older sister, and my little guy in honor of the twins first birthday. This is what ensued.

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This Summer

Summer of 2014. It was everything. It came and went like I've never seen a summer go before, but it was also one of the very best I've ever experienced. One that I won't ever forget. Early summer saw some absolutely amazing weddings hit the books. Ones I'll be sharing on this blog over the next few months. During those weddings, Cali's due date was fast approaching, which brought a bit of stress, finding backup shooters should she go into labor, etc. All was well when on a beautiful July Wednesday (with no wedding the following weekend), Henry Thomas came into our lives in most perfect fashion. Everyone says it, but our lives won't ever be the same. He brings so much joy, happiness, and fullness to our life together and we can't imagine the time before him. Cali is an absolute saint for all that she went through in that pregnancy and labor, and I continue to fall even more in love with her strength and ability to fall into this role as a Mom, every single day.

One of our greatest desires for this new life is to continue to travel. To continue to experience. And to take Henry there every chance we can. We want to build a sense of wonder into him, even at a young age. To always keep him dreaming and creating and longing to see more of this world's beauty. In just the exactly 11 weeks since he has joined us, we've attempted to do just that. Day trips and family outings, being dedicated at our church and hanging with friends. Turns out in the final weeks of summer I ended up having three weddings in a row in Northern Michigan, which allowed us to rent a little cottage on Grand Traverse Bay, and not leave Michigan's paradise for three whole weeks. It was one of the best things we've ever done as a couple, and certainly the best as a family. Though I was working during the week and shooting weddings on the weekend, the slow-paced time so close to so many natural wonders allowed us to see and do so much. To swim, to climb dunes, to explore everything that Traverse City, the Leelanau Peninsula, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, and the lower Upper Peninsula had to offer. We even got to have multiple family members and friends come up and join us for days at a time, which was perfect.

In the next 30 days, Henry will get to see Chicago and New Orleans. He won't remember a bit of it, but we don't care. Having this new little family unit with me every chance I get is one of the coolest, and greatest things I could imagine.

All this to say, whether you're a single person, a couple, a family of 10, young or old: get out there. Do something. Explore your surroundings and see it in a new light. It's good for the soul, and you'll find so many things you never knew existed. I promise, you won't regret it.

Baby Green :: An Update

Well, in case you didn't know, we've got something pretty big/crazy/exciting going on in our lives. We're having our first baby somewhere around July 4th of this year. I don't know that I've ever been more excited about something in my life. I'm excited for the unknown. I'm excited to get to know the little guy growing inside Cali. I'm excited for how our life will change and grow and that I get to do this with the best partner I could ever ask for. It's going to be crazy, and it's going to be a whirlwind, and it'll be scary. But I also know that it will be one of the most perfect things to ever happen in our lives. When we first found out we were pregnant, we wanted to be able to send a photo out to friends and family to announce it. So last fall, we trekked on over to Belle Isle and I captured this first image of Cali at just 8 weeks along or so in front of the greenhouses. This ended up turning into photo after photo every few weeks or so. Some days were bitterly cold and caused us to rush back to the car, other days let us spend a bit more time to enjoy the excitement. So today, at about 25 weeks along, I thought I'd share a bit of an update and what we've seen thus far.

All along the way, Cali has been and will be blogging little updates from her blog, make sure to follow along there and here as we add this new little fella to our family.

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Two-Thousand and Thirteen x iPhone

MAN. This year. It was one for the books. 2013 was extremely good to me, and I'm so blessed for all the adventure that it brought and the friends and family I got to share it with. We're talking travels to Vegas, Chicago (multiple times), South Carolina, Nashville (multiple times), New York City, all the edges of Michigan and explorations of Detroit. I wouldn't trade all of those hours behind the wheel and time spent on those planes for anything in the world. The experiences, cultures, friends I met and people I experienced life with in all of those places created the backdrop for a year that is beyond words. This year I:

- Began and rocked the second year of marriage with my wife. She's still ridiculously gorgeous and just about the very best life partner and adventurer I could ever ask to share life with.

- Moved twice. The first time into a condo in a sleepy little community. The second time into the crazy new experience of living Downtown Detroit. Will report back on where we end up next.

- Got a second dog. You'll see Stanley mixed in with Fletcher below.

- Procured a studio in Detroit right along the riverfront. Stop in sometime, I've got coffee and Faygo with your name on it. It's in a historic 1920's warehouse building with massive factory windows and beautiful views galore.

- Drank lots of coffee. From lots of different places.

- Rode trains, busses, subways, planes, cars, boats, bikes, kayaks, and ferry's. It was the best.

- Spent a week in Vegas with a ton of photographer friends (all of whom I had never met in person prior to then). We laughed, we hung out, we partied , we shot photos in the desert. Instant friends.

- Fell even more in love with this city of Detroit. It and its people are like nothing else in the world, and I'm proud to call it home. Haven't been? Let me show you around.

- Watched and joined friends as their dreams and ideas came to life. Multiple times.

- Built a dining room table by hand and re-finished a few other pieces of furniture. Man-stuff.

- Continued growing the MammothBooth! and MammothReach brands with a bunch of rad clients and friends along for the ride.

- Shot weddings all over the place (and country). I still love waking up every morning and documenting life and love of my clients gets to be my job.

- Added two more nieces to the lineup right before the end of the year. Bringing the current niece and nephew count to 5.

- Hosted Steve Moakler and David Bazan in the studio for small, intimate shows.

- Attended my first America's Thanksgiving Parade. It was everything I hoped and dreamed and can't wait to go back again next year.

- Ate lots of delicious food.

Crap...did I forget something?! Oh yeah, and we also are preparing to welcome a stinkin' baby into the world! Cali and I are so pumped to be expecting our first incredible little bundle of joy in July 2014. Holy crap, we're in for some changes, but we could not be any more thrilled. She's going to be the absolute best Mom.

All that to say, this was my year. Documented by the little phone, always hanging out in my pocket. All images were taken using an iPhone 5 and processed using VSCO Cam. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a recap in my professional work from this past year. Here's to 2014 and to the changes and adventures it brings. I hope you'll follow along.

Follow Me!

- Instagram - VSCO Grid - Facebook

Two-Thousand and Twelve x iPhone

Oh, 2012. What an incredible year in my life. I got married, I went to the Dominican Republic, Chicago (many times), Nashville, Grand Haven, Tawas, the U.P. and everywhere else in between. In this year, I truly discovered one of my favorite mediums for images: the iPhone. I downright fell in love with taking pictures with the one thing that is always with me. The ease, the portability, and its ability to go incognito. I fell in love with Instagram and editing with VSCO Cam. Most of all, I fell in love with the iPhone's ability to create easy, beautiful snapshots of this crazy life and the world around me. Looking back on these memories of a year gone by, spent with my amazing wife, our crazy dog Fletch and family by my side, has been and will be something that I'll always cherish. For now though, enjoy a year in the life of JDG via iPhone and look forward to a look back on my year in the real world of images really soon! All images shot with iPhone 4S and 5 using VSCO Cam. Follow me on Instagram!

Aliyah

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Meet Aliyah Gabrielle Friday. The daughter of my sister and her husband, and consequently, my niece. She's one of the greatest joys in my family's life and she never provides a dull moment. Getting to spend time with her is one my favorite things in the world and I think you'll be able to see why.

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NELLY BABY!!! (She had a scratch under that band-aid that got removed in the rest of the photos, but of course looks awesome as a rapper)

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Making an appearance with Mom and Aunt Cali :)

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Summer Travels

This summer was filled with some amazing trips that I'll never forget. Some for work, some for fun, all for memories. Boston::

Nick and I flew into Boston for Adam and Mary Kate's wedding, not because it was anywhere near the wedding in Uxbridge, MA; but because I had never been there and had heard great things. And let me just tell you, Boston delivered! This city was amazing, you feel like you're stepping in to a small town in Europe when you walk the back streets. We walked a lot, drove a lot, visited Harvard, and ate at Cheers! (which neither of us recommend, it was a bad call). Either way, it was an awesome trip and an amazing city through and through.

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Mackinaw Island and Northern Michigan::

My family, Cali, and I all went to Mackinaw Island, Traverse City, and some other great spots in Northern Michigan for a few days in August and it was spectacular. No matter how many times I visit these cities I'm still blown away by their beauty. We rode bikes on the island (a tandem for Cali and I), kayaked near Traverse, and even got a chance to meet up with our buds Bryan and Mae while they were in the city as well! If you're not from Michigan and you are reading this, you need to check out the Northern half of our state. You won't regret it.

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Chicago::

When I got the call to shoot Sean + Katye's Engagement session in Chicago, I knew I had to make a trip out of it. So I grabbed my two best buds, Ferdinand and Evan and we hit the road to stay with some family I have outside of the city. We got to spend a beautiful day walking around downtown, hitting some stores, the beach, and the pier, and just having some great laughs.

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Ferd: "What are you doing?" Me: "Taking a picture of all of us." Ferd: "That probably didn't work."

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