Ah, pure Michigan. Filled with its rich fall colors, gorgeous dunes and freshwater lakes, and intriguing architecture, Michigan is home to some of the best natural and manmade beauties in the nation. Glenn Stevens knows all about the beautiful landscapes that stretch from the top of the mitten down, so much that he created and published a Michigan photography book filled with his photos from across the state.
One Detroit’s Christy McDonald chats with Glenn about his new Michigan photography book and the even deeper meaning behind him creating it.
Christy McDonald: Well, Glenn, you and I met through our work with the Detroit Regional Chamber years ago, and I remember a couple of years ago just watching your social media feed and seeing all the beautiful photos of Michigan that you would post and you really started posting a lot of these photos during the pandemic time.
Christy McDonald: You started kind of going around the state and you’re a Marquette guy by birth. And so you love the state, but being able to capture the pictures that you do and then start to put it together in a book. Take me back to the pandemic when you started going around the state.
Glenn Stevens, Author, Michigan Street: Sure. Well, I appreciate that. And it’s been a pleasure to, you know, get to know you and work with you on these different things. You know, first of all, when you look at our state, I don’t think I need to tell you, but we have an incredibly visually stunning state. And you know, when the pandemic hit, I really like a lot of people, we took a pause, literally. But I think figuratively too.
Glenn Stevens: And I just, you know, we did a lot of assessment and said, okay, well, what am I going to do with this time? Because we did, we did have more time. And because I have such a passion for photography, I’m not a professional photographer. I’m just an amateur. But I wanted to put that work to some kind of use, but I couldn’t determine what it was.
Glenn Stevens: And then it hit me, and I met this gentleman through church, through a church group right around the same time named Manny Dines. Got to know each other a little bit and found out that he has ALS and they needed a handicapped minivan. So talking to some friends, we said, Well, let’s make a picture book of Michigan. Let’s put all the proceeds towards raising money for this wheelchair-accessible van, and that’s how it all came about.
Christy McDonald: It’s beautiful and the images you’ve captured and be able to put in this book, which is called Michigan Street, because…
Glenn Stevens: Because I grew up literally on Michigan Street in Marquette. And so Michigan Street is a physical place, but it’s also kind of a state of mind for me. And I think for all of us.
Christy McDonald: Take me through some of the images that we see here. They’re stunning. Some of them bring me to tears because I can see myself in those places. When you look to capture some of these photos, what are you looking for and how do you set it up in your mind before you take that picture?
Glenn Stevens: My father always taught me, and my mom did too. You know, look up, look around and see what’s in front of you. But I think you hit on something there is that almost every one of those pictures, there’s a little bit of a story going behind it. I didn’t just take the picture. I took it in. I memorized it and then some of them literally have stories behind them. So that’s where it all comes about.
Christy McDonald: What are some of your favorites? Can you share one with us?
Glenn Stevens: I’ll give you two perfect places that I love. One is Detroit and one is Marquette, you know, and they’re vastly different places, but they’re connected for a variety of different reasons. But in Marquette, you know the cover and some of the places in Marquette along Lake Superior, a little Presque Isle, McCarty’s Cove, those are kind of my places, you know, that special place, that happy place that people talk about.
Glenn Stevens: But you know, in Detroit, I’ve got a picture of when they first started to renovate the train station and then the second floor of the Detroit Public Library on Woodward, the main branch up on the court. The murals there, you know, those are just pretty special places. So those would be a couple.
Christy McDonald: When you think about putting them all together and saying, not only are we going to put this out for people to enjoy and to love, but the connection that you have with Manny and where he’s at right now. Explain or kind of describe that connection that you two have and what has become of that since Michigan Street has been out?
Glenn Stevens: Well, you know, one of the things I didn’t know about Manny when I first met him is come to find out they literally have traveled this entire state as a family. When I first started to put the book together, I didn’t know that, and then I found out that. So I wrote an intro to the book and I asked Manny and his family to write the closing of the book to talk about those places.
Glenn Stevens: When I first met Manny the ALS, which I’ve learned a lot about, it’s an incredibly progressive and horrible disease, wasn’t that advanced it had set in, but now it’s pretty advanced. And what I’ve really gotten out of it is the resiliency of him and his wife, Annie. It’s incredible, it’s inspiring. So to be able to help them, along with my friends who purchased the book or made donations towards the van is, it’s been a pretty cool journey.
Christy McDonald: All right, so tell us, Glenn, how can we help out? Where can we find the book Michigan Street and continue to help out Manny and his family?
Glenn Stevens: Thanks, Christy. So it’s MichiganStreet.org, and when you go to that website, you’ll find a link to Manny’s machine where you can either make a donation or you can purchase the book, and I’ll ship it to you and my distribution center, which is my, my folks up north have been helping ship the books all throughout this year so that…
Christy McDonald: It’s good to have connections like that. It’s good to have a distribution center.
Glenn Stevens: They are, they’re great workers and they’re passionate about the project. It’s been fun to do it with them.
Christy McDonald: Glenn Stevens, thanks so much for joining me. It’s great to see you. And it’s just a wonderful project and our best to Manny and his family as well.
Glenn Stevens: Thanks, Christy. Really appreciate the time today.
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