Even after seeing two blue plus signs on the pee-riddled sticks in the bathroom at Mt. Pleasant High School it was still hard for Sarah Pool to accept that she was carrying her first child at age sixteen.
After dating Hurley Israel, Jr., 19 for three months and having unprotected sex, Sarah was faced with society’s pressure on what to do now that she was pregnant.
“My mom, at first was like, ‘well what about abortion’ and I said no, I could never do that. Then she was talking about adoption and I told her I could never do that either, I was just going to keep him,” said Sarah, 17.
The road has not been easy for teen parents Sarah and Hurley, before welcoming their healthy baby boy into the world they were faced with the difficulties of keeping a relationship together.
“We had our rough spots, because of me, mainly because of me, but we worked through them and we are here today,” said Hurley.
Sarah and Hurley are both currently not attending school, or going to friend’s houses or going to parties like they did before they were parents.
So I moved to midland, well not just because of that, that’s part of the reason. I think it will be easier to do classes online so then I can just stay at home and watch him [Bentley] and don’t have to get talked about at school,” said Sarah.
Aside from the having difficulties at school Sarah chose to move out of her mothers house and into her fathers, in Midland, because her mother, Bentley’s Grandma, was trying to raise him.
The choices Sarah and Hurley have made as a couple and the struggles of raising their son Bentley, 3-months-old, as teenagers are common in young parents.
The pressure society puts on young women once they become pregnant are troubling. The pressure to keep the child then the shunning that happens when you have a baby in high school. To terminating a pregnancy then to get backlash that she is being selfish. To the idea that you, the mother, are letting someone else raise your child without any input in adoption is careless. There are many assumptions and misconceptions that are talked about within our society that are not fair to the mothers and fathers. All decisions that come up once the plus sign emerges from the pregnancy test are ones that should be openly talked about in a non-judgmental manor with ones they choose to talk about it with. Young women rarely make this decision lightly and it is one that will be part of their life forever.
Initially I was very excited to shoot the fashion assignment until the actually time did come. Time, money and weather restraints put a damper on all initial plans I had made. I first went into the studio to photograph my sister in her 50s themed clothing to get there and notice that it is hard to model clothes without an item to put the viewer back into that time frame with only a white background. We tried different poses and movement but simply swinging around seemed to work best in my take. The location fashion shoot fell flat for me, I was here in a wooded area with good back light and stunning models. The only problem, these models were dressed like cinderella and late for the ball. I had only 15 minutes to shoot them and for some unknown reason my main light stopped working just as I got everything perfect. I changed the batteries with no luck. I would love to reshoot this entire assignment and work out some kinks and make it overall more visually interesting and accelerated to my standards that I set for myself.
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.
More families suffer from having a family member who battles with alcoholism than meets the eye. This project on Bill Millard and his family shows what it is like for a family to have a parent/spouse in jail for drunk driving offenses by exploring their normal day-to-day life and the new struggles that come up with having an temporary absent father and husband. Ultimately I wanted the audience to feel the pain alcoholics put on their family and understand that it is something many different types of families deal with. It is also something that can be worked on with time and patience. Alcoholism is not something to recover from easily but with a supportive family and the will to change Bill has a chance to change his life forever. I followed Bill Millard who is serving a year at the Isabella County Jail for 5 drunk driving offences and his time out of the jail on work release in Farwell, Mich. I also spent time with his wife DeAnn and two sons Steven and David.
The Isabella County Jail is a strict small town jail that has old time views that I had to respect while photographing this story. I was not allowed to photograph in the jail. I was also cut off from making any further contact with Bill while he was serving time. Bill was threatened with losing his one saving grace, his work release. I am disappointed that I did not get to show the entirety of this story because I really wanted to show it to help others who may be suffering from the same situation at home.
I hope that one day when I am able to show this project to a larger audience and that it can make as least one other person feel not so alone.
Jazz and hip hop dancers Kelsey and Lauren Pasch love being able to let loose and put their energy into their dance practices at Newman School of Dance. The sisters from Beal City, Michigan have been dancing for eight year. Kelsey, age 13 helps her younger sister, Lauren, age 11, improve on her skills. “I tell her what stuff she should improve, and she tells me what stuff I need to improve; whether it’s pointing your toes or getting into the moves more, smiling or eye contact, stuff like that,” said Kelsey. Both girls plan to continue dancing as long as they can and would want to be student dance teachers in the future as well.