JUSTIN MCKEE: Photography is an adventure

FSU FROM ABOVE: You’ll have to forgive the settings on this photo — I was switching from video to photos while in the air and had to find a middle ground. While I didn’t travel too far away from home for this photo, I did travel a fair distance above it during this year’s AirFest put on by Colt Aviation at Roben Hood Airport in Big Rapids. One of the benefits to photography is that it allows me to explore and see new places and even new ways of seeing some of the places I see every day. (Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)

FSU FROM ABOVE: You’ll have to forgive the settings on this photo — I was switching from video to photos while in the air and had to find a middle ground. While I didn’t travel too far away from home for this photo, I did travel a fair distance above it during this year’s AirFest put on by Colt Aviation at Roben Hood Airport in Big Rapids. One of the benefits to photography is that it allows me to explore and see new places and even new ways of seeing some of the places I see every day. (Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)

One of the biggest draws of photography for me is the adventure involved. It’s because of photography that I get outside more often.

Back when I was in school I was a hardcore video game nerd.

It’s true.

I had a party of six Pokemon that were all (nearly) level 100.

I would dive into a single player RPG (Role Playing Game) like it was my own life on the line. Final Fantasy, anyone?

Oh, and let’s not forget the countless hours I’ve spent with friends on Minecraft.

While I’m not bashing those mediums of entertainment, they weren’t exactly doing me any favors physically — I never went outside!

Once I started shooting photography my sense of exploration exploded. Yeah, I still play video games, but if I have the energy I’d much rather go out and see what I can discover.

I’ve been all over Michigan taking photos and, once I have the means, I’ll be traveling the country.

Travel is a huge passion of mine because I’m always seeing something new. The camera is just along for the ride, but it was initially the catalyst for making me set down the controller and exit my stuffy room.

My family and I used to take trips up to the upper peninsula all the time when I was a kid, but after a while we stopped going. Years later, I found myself up north again and I’ve been going back just about every year since.

Some people say the tourist trap by the Mackinac Bridge is overrated *cough* you know who you are *cough,* however, I’ve found that the charm of going up north is in looking for places that aren’t traversed often.

If I ever visit Mackinac Island, my goal is to quickly get a brick of fudge to devour while I head toward the center of the island where no one can be seen in any direction.

I enjoy the solitude of seeking out new places. I’m not necessarily an introvert, but I enjoy a quiet moment as much as the next guy.

One of the places I miss the most, and hope to travel to again one day, is Montana. Specifically, Yellowstone National Park. I was there on a family trip with my grandparents when I was 11 and it was one of the best road trips I’ve ever been on.

I just wish I had a camera back then to capture it all. Now it’s just a matter of getting back there before the supervolcano erupts and blankets the U.S in three feet of volcanic ash (I’m partially kidding on that last thing).

Photography is a huge reason why I love my job. I get to go out and meet new people, watch different and unique stories unfold and see things I’ve never had the opportunity to witness before.

There also is a significant challenge photographically in seeing new places. Sure, some subjects and scenes fall into formulaic redundancy, but I really enjoy the challenge of looking for the best angles and ways to work around the problems a new environment can introduce.

All this to say: Don’t be afraid to get out of your house and explore a little. It’s great exercise and, with a little imagination, even going on a short road trip can be an adventure.

I hope I never lose the zest for adventure and I’m thankful for all the people who have joined in on the fun over the past few years.

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Posted by Justin McKee

Justin is the Pioneer's Multimedia Coordinator. He helps create and edit video content, shoot photography, layout pages and even give a hand with website content. He can be reached at (231) 592-8369 or by email at jmckee@pioneergroup.com.

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