GTPulse: Local Photographer Captures ‘Couples of Traverse City’ In New Photo Project
I love taking photos with people in them and you probably do, too. Landscape photography can be beautiful but there’s just something about a person in the photo that makes it more interesting.
Why are they there? What are they thinking or feeling in that moment?
Traverse City local Daniel Fortune captures many of these beautiful moments around town with his new photography project called Couples of Traverse City.
When Daniel Fortune was in journalism school the notion that he would likely be taking pictures too irked him.
“I got into photography because when I was in journalism school in my classes, we had a lot of guest speakers come in, you know, working journalists. Pretty much every one of them said ‘learn how to take photos.’ So I just kept hearing that over and over again. I was kind of resistant to it at first I’m like, ‘Well, why do I need to do that?’ I wanted to be a writer now I gotta learn like a whole other thing.”
But his desire to work in the field outweighed his distaste for taking on another skill just to get to his true love of writing. One summer he took a photography class and was surprised to find that he enjoyed it quite a bit.
“I took this photography class, and you know, basically just like fell in love with photography. Like, oh my God I actually really like this, this is really cool, and so it just took off from there. It didn’t take off instantly. I mean, I didn’t even have like a camera at first. You know, I was taking pictures on my iPhone.”
What we do for love knows no bounds, and Daniel’s love for writing started young. He noticed as an adolescent in school that he didn’t mind writing essays for class. In fact, he liked it a lot.
“I was writing essays about, you know, The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. I loved analyzing them and I love putting into words, why I enjoyed them so much. So I found that very stimulating and I realized that I was pretty good with words. And that’s when I started thinking, you know, maybe that would be a career for me someday. I guess the first thing that came to mind is maybe I’d write for a newspaper.”
His first job out of journalism school was at an Ohio newspaper. His skills were sharpened and polished with the fast-paced work, but it prepared him for the job he would eventually take at the Leelanau Enterprise after making the wise decision to leave Ohio.
At the Leelanau Enterprise, he covered Glen Arbor township board meetings, but he also took photos for the newspaper. As time went on he began seeing his photos featured on the cover more frequently, but it was a specific moment where he became inspired for the photo project. A sunset in the Open Space changed everything.
“I was looking for a good front-page photo for the Enterprise, and so I decided to check out this park that I had been wanting to for a while. I went there during sunset and was capturing any cool moments I saw, you know, people walking around doing whatever and it was kind of like one of those moments I was describing earlier where all of a sudden something happened and the light got really beautiful. There was this couple, they were looking over the railing out into the water and the light was just golden and just absolutely gorgeous. And I snapped a few pictures of them.”
Silhouettes against a northern Michigan sunset backdrop became a photo composition that he enjoyed shooting. There is no shortage of breathtaking sunsets here. Surrounded by rugged edge peninsulas and crystal clear lake water who would disagree?
Finding a beautiful sunset here isn’t something that Dan is worried about often. what’s tricky is getting that perfect moment we repair enters the shot. However, not all of his couple shots are silhouettes. Many of his photos are couples in the daytime and some of them aren’t couples at all.
“When I say couples, you hear that word you think of a romantic couple. But it really refers to a more broad sense of the word, like pairs of people. So it could be two friends. It could be two siblings, it could be a parent and a child. It’s really about the relationship between two humans.”
Through the Instagram page @couplesoftraverscity Where he posts the photos, he hopes that the pairs find them through friends or family recognizing them or through others sharing the photos on social media.
“As a trial, I wrote such an article about how my parents met and posted the article to Instagram and Facebook as the caption to a photo I had recently taken of them when they visited me in Traverse City. Their friends and family loved it, and people commented that they learned a lot of details about the story that they never knew.”
He is currently working on his own photography and writing business that will focus on a variety of professional photography services as well as offering his skills as a writer to help with any kind of work where words need to be eloquently strung together.
“One of my main goals for this project is to introduce folks to a different way of telling their stories, in a more documentary fashion, and to showcase the authentic beauty in that. When folks hire a photographer to take portrait, family, couples photos, it’s usually a staged situation, almost by its nature. I want to challenge that. For instance, I would love to have a couple hire me to trail them for an afternoon and document their day, catching real moments of their life, when they’ve long forgotten about me. That sort of authenticity excites me.”
As of now the project is in its infancy and has no end in sight, and although he has been photographing couples in park-like settings, he’s been branching out to other parts of Traverse City. If you’ve spent a busy afternoon out and about in Traverse City with your significant other, friend, brother, sister, aunt or whoever keep up with the couples of Traverse City on Instagram. The next stranger in the photo could be you.
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