Brett Golliff makes his living as a Lead Designer in Color and Trim at General Motors but it's what he does in his "free time" that makes Brett one of the first people I look to for inspiration. Brett, a graduate of the College for Creative Studies, spent over three years designing athletic shoes at New Balance in Boston before returning to the Detroit-area to work for GM. While the career move may raise a few eyebrows from those that know how footwear-minded Brett is, his passion never waivered.
Since leaving New Balance at the end of 2010, Brett has continued to shape his longtime love for shoes and in doing so, has become a voice in the footwear industry. In addition to leading the aesthetic direction for Color and Trim on some of America's most iconic vehicles, Brett seemingly spends every waking hour blogging, podcasting, and imagining what the future holds for footwear culture and design. His tireless dedication to footwear has provided him opportunities to travel on behalf of the Jordan Brand for exclusive shoe launches as well a chance to do a series of design articles with shoe design legend, Tinker Hatfield. Though his hard work, Brett has become an influence within footwear by providing in-depth reviews of product from a design and performance standpoint. This approach has forced companies to take notice and it's not a surprise to see a few new boxes of shoes in the queue whenever I stop by his place. (The first image shows just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Brett's shoe collection)
While I've had the opportunity to know Brett as a classmate and a friend for some time, his dedication and positive spirit continue to inspire and motivate me now. As 2013 continues to fly by, it's people like Brett who create their own path and sharpen their passions day after day, that inspire me to keep shooting, keep studying my craft, keep networking, and keep putting myself in situations that may bring me even a sliver of good advice or knowledge. I had a lot of fun shooting these images last week with Brett and I plan to continue shooting features like this with the people in my life that inspire me. Those that serve as a voice in my head telling me to get off Facebook, stop watching funny Bulldog videos on Youtube, and identify what it is that my dreams are, and to work like hell to make them my reality.
Special thanks to Brett's wife Stacy for the awesome dinner that followed this shoot, everybody's favorite barber, Berkley Chop Shop, for providing Brett's fresh hairdo, and Eddie the dog (Brett and Stacy's foster dog at the time of the shoot, hope you find a forever home buddy)
The last 7 weeks have been a whirlwind, swirling with new opportunities, new relationships, and what has been an enormous shift in my life. Sticking with the new direction, I've ditched the old blog posts and I'm starting fresh!
The end of 2012 brought a major change to my life, after more than three years as the Staff Photographer and Videographer at Gibbs Sports Amphibians, my role with the company was terminated mid December.
Hope you can swim buddy!!! (not my photo)
While my first thoughts were of anxiety and fear, "How the hell am I gonna pay the rent? Do I have to eat Ramen everyday? It's winter, am I gonna have to make fires out of mat board and old work clothes to stay warm?" , my mind quickly raced to the realization that I had nothing holding me back from my only goal for the year ahead. My dream of becoming a full-time freelance assistant and shooter during 2013 had arrived, a lot sooner than I had ever planned for. So soon in fact, that my first assisting gig wasn't more than an hour after I said my "goodbyes".
One of the lighting tests (of me) and print tests from HelpPortait event with photographer Chris Arace
Midyear 2012 I began meeting with photographers and assistants to get an idea as to what it takes to make it as a photo assistant, what I'd be expected to know, and what I still need to learn. Since graduating CCS in 2009, my dream has been to become a full-time freelance photographer in some way, most likely through the progression from assistant. An enticing staff photo job put that dream on hold for a few years but over the last six months I really felt I was getting closer to making the leap. I had been buttoning up some loose ends financially and educating myself as much as I could. The "push off the diving board" couldn't have come at a better time. After leaving Gibbs for the last time that day, I headed right to a shoot for HelpPortrait with Detroit photographer Chris Arace. Thanks to an invite from photo assistant extraordinaire and one of my most helpful mentors/friends over the last few months, Matt Lavere, I was able to keep my mind off the events earlier in the day and dig right in to the life I've been wanting! I learned a few new things right off the bat, had a chance to do something positive for the community through HelpPortrait, and even snagged a nice portrait to go with a free dinner! That's a great night.
The C7 Corvette for Autoweek
The following week I assisted for Andrew Trahan on the Corvette C7 shoot prior to the 2013 North American International Auto Show. The shoot took place at Stage 3 Studios in Warren and it was my first time working at the stage. It was a great experience working there and it was really exciting to work on such a high profile shoot. I learned a number of things from Andrew and the assistants on set that day and I felt immense pride when the photos were released and Andrew had nabbed yet another Autoweek cover. It's an awesome feeling to contribute to something like this.
Autoweek happened to be filming the shoot so it was a nice treat to see footage of the entire team in action after the car was unveiled.
Pennsylvania takes FOREVER to drive across, at least it's pretty.
Over the next few days I celebrated my Grandma's 94th birthday on the west side of Michigan and then headed east on a last minute whim to drive home for Christmas. It's been a very long time since I've been back to Connecticut for any extended amount of time and the trip was a much needed ten days with my family. It was amazing to see my two week old niece, it's hard to believe that we start life that small!
Headed back to MI
Another 800 mile trek was in the bag as I returned to Detroit in time to ring in the New Year with friends at Bab's Underground in Ann Arbor. It's a pretty nice spot and they throw a great New Year's party if you find yourself in Ann Arbor as the years turn over.
The new Vacancy Studios
January consisted of a number of shooting gigs as well as assisting work with Chris and Matt again at Chris' new studio. The Vacancy is his Eastern Market Studio location that he just opened this month and it's a great spot for shooting lifestyle and fashion work. I've had a lot of fun working with Chris and Matt on various projects at the studio already this year.
I also had the opportunity to assist for Detroit automotive photographer Brad Stanley on a two day shoot this month. Another great learning experience was had and I had a ton of fun getting to know Brad and his assistant Travis during our short time working together. I look forward to seeing the final product when it is released. I'll keep you posted.
CCS booth at NAIAS
January also brought about some new work with an old client. While attending CCS I contributed regularly to the Marketing and Institutional Advancement departments with my photography. My job at Gibbs didn't allow for much of this work but fortunately CCS had a number of gigs this month and welcomed me back. I'm very excited to be working with them again. I spent a bit of time at the 2013 NAIAS this year shooting the College for Creative Studies display on assignment and also had a chance to scope out all of the new vehicles for the coming year and beyond.
A screen grab during my photo edits of the HeartSoul Detroit opening
Lastly, I had the opportunity to photograph the HeartSoul Detroit opening at the CCS Center Galleries. The work by CCS Alum Jenny Risher is not only of the highest quality, it's inspiring, and it makes me want to practice shooting portraits over and over until I have it down pat. The event was jam packed with some of the best photographers in Detroit including two of my favorites, Jeremy Deputat and John Roe. The likes of Martha Reeves (Vandellas) and Bill Bonds were in attendance, both of which were photographed for the HeartSoul Detroit project. Overall the event was a great success and I can honestly say that the book is one of my favorite photo books to date. The interviews live up to the quality of the photographs and it makes for a compelling piece.
That about wraps up the start of the year for me. It's been an exciting and very busy transition from the standard 9-5 but I am excited to wake up every day and see what challenges are before me. I have much more work ahead but I feel like I'm off to a good start! Thanks for reading.