On a dirt road in Beal City, Mich. it is common to run into a farm, family run and operated with a long line of history that makes it what it is today. Down the flat, pothole sprinkled, Nottawa Road in Beal City sits the Fox Dairy Farm.
Third generation farmer Marty Fox, 54, and his son Sam Fox, 13, run the 266-acre farm. Sam has always had a strong interest in the farm, he is soft spoken and small in stature but he has worked hard on the farm since he was a child.
Over family dinner Marty and Sam attempted to recall when Sam started to drive the tractors. “I was 4 wasn’t I,” said Sam. “No, I think six-year-old when you started parking and then driving the skid steer and then I think at eight you were doing easy jobs like raking hay,” corrected Marty.
“Normally dinner is on the run, or half will eat then later in the night Marty will come in and eat. We don’t eat at the table very often, it is normally in front of the T.V.,” said Julie Fox, 52, Marty’s wife as she prepared rice, chicken, peas, corn and bread.
Marty and Julie have three children, Katie, 25, Rachel 21, and Sam, 13. The daughters that have moved out and live on their own. Katie and Rachel remember growing up on the farm where it was never boring and always welcoming. “In school my friends would always want to come here for sleepovers, heck Billy (Rachel’s boyfriend) even asks, ‘Can we go to the farm and stay the night,’ there is always something to do here,” said Rachel.
The women of the family know that the farm will be passed down to Sam if he wants to take it over.
“I didn’t think I would be milking cows now, I thought about raising other cattle, raising beef, maybe but then you don’t make as much money, and then you almost would have to go do something so that’s why you stay with what you do,” said Marty while thinking about the future of the farm.
J. Scott Park the photo editor at the Jackson Citizen Patriot and the Mlive Media Group. After being a staff photographer for 10 years he became the editor, and has been for 9 years. He grew up in Jackson and is happy that he has been working in his hometown for 19 years. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism in 1993.
I meet photojournalist J. Scott Park at the hub in Jackson where we chatted about my experience while he finished setting up forms for the soccer tournament he was working on this weekend. Talk about busy man. This made for a very casual and easy flowing start to my job shadow. I ran an errand with him on the way to the first assignment, which is very much, the real world. I noticed myself doing that in Texas when I was working so it was great to see that it is normal.
On the first assignment that I went to with Scott, I pulled a rookie mistake. I forgot my memory cardholder in my purse. It was in my purse because I was at work before going to Jackson. Thankfully it was not an assignment that I needed to shoot, as Scott said. I believe that I actually gained more by watching him. It was a million dollar home that was up for sale. Scott took photos of the home and talked with the owners and realtor. I used this time to ask about how he photographs rooms with bright window light and he showed me a few tricks to not lose all of the detail in the windows.
The assignment was twenty minutes away so we had a lot of time in the car to talk. I asked about getting a job or an internship in May and asked for his tips. He let me know that the biggest way to lose out on an internship or job opportunity is with spelling errors or spelling his name wrong. “Do you know how many emails I get where people call me Scott Parker or Jay Parks. It’s right there but people still mess it up,” said Park while driving back to the office from an assignment.
When we returned to the office he went over his photos of the million-dollar home and talked about toning and cropping. At this time we had Danielle Duval, a Central Michigan University alumni and intern at Jackson Citizen Patriot come and hangout with us in the office and get dinner before going to the game of the week, the Jackson High School v. East Lansing football game. The football game was a special game; it was the Pink Viking Project game. It was their first time hosting the event to honor people that are fighting, have survived, or succumbed to cancer as well as help raise money for cancer treatment. Then it was on to sports action and feature shooting.
To fellow students I suggest to just be personable, yourself and calm when making a first impression to a potential employer. Scott talked about hiring people that he will enjoy working with and that will mesh well with the newsroom. This is key in a job as social as ours.
It would be impossible to really get the hands on experience that the job shadow allowed in a classroom. I was in Jackson for eight hours; there just isn’t time to have an eight-hour class. A whole shift really changes the way you see the job. Other people also shoot in different ways than you so it allows a chance to grasp what they see when you shadow. When you read it in a book you do not get the entire context that is going on at that moment when they make the image. It really helps see why he made the choices he did while shooting.
I enjoyed getting over my fear of the studio within the first two class periods of photographic studio techniques class. With the studio there is a lot of set up, concept pressure and technique that goes into making a strong photo, this is what made me think that I would not like it. By making myself available to help in the studio with demos and being hands on I have been able to answer other classmates questions when they were shooting for assignment one, which was really surprising.