NMU Grads Groundbreaking Magazine Cover Photo

Cover shot by James Farrell
Cover shot by James Farrell

Women’s Running reports it is the first U.S. fitness magazine to feature a woman wearing a hijab on its cover and Northern Michigan University art and design graduate James Farrell (’07) photographed the subject. Farrell is based in New York City and specializes in action, sports and fitness photography. He traveled to Detroit to complete the cover shoot of Rahaf Khatib, a six-time marathoner and mother of three from Farmington Hills. Farrell captured images of her running near Comerica Park, the River Walk and other city landmarks.

 

A number of news sites and blogs have featured stories on the significance of the magazine’s October issue. Much of the coverage includes photos from the spread credited to Farrell.

“I’m definitely flattered by all of the attention it’s receiving, but I didn’t know it was the first of its kind until after I had finished the shoot,” Farrell said. “The magazine didn’t pitch the assignment to me that way. To be honest, I was shocked that this had never been done nationally until now. But Women’s Running has pushed the boundaries with other covers. I shot one that featured a plus-size model, which was also a first and gained a lot of traction. The magazine is always expanding the realm of running by showing the diverse women who are out there doing it. They don’t all conform to one type.”

Photo by James Farrell
Photo by James Farrell

Farrell’s action photography and athlete portraits have been featured in other publications, including Sports Illustrated, Shape and Forbes. His interest in the craft was sparked in his hometown of Petoskey, where he held a part-time job at his stepfather’s one-hour photo business. At NMU, he focused his lens on students active in snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits.

 

 

Photo by James Farrell
Photo by James Farrell

“Northern gave me my first real chance to go out on my own, learn new techniques and figure out what I wanted to do,” Farrell said. “My professors challenged me on a regular basis to make stronger and better work. And when I was tempted to shoot other things or try a different style, they told me to stick with what I was doing and perfect my craft. That’s the big thing with so much competition in the field: finding a niche and staying true to it.”

 

 

 James Farrell
James Farrell

After graduating from NMU, Farrell spent a short time in Chicago before moving to New York, where he met an agent who represents fitness models. That connection helped him to secure assignments that demonstrated his skills. He built an impressive portfolio and solidified his reputation for high-quality work in his chosen specialty. But Farrell said the final product that appears in print is often dictated by his rapport with subjects during a shoot.

 

“Photography is about making sure the subjects are comfortable at all times, no matter what they’re wearing, what they’re doing and what the issue is. If they’re comfortable, they’ll open up more and you’ll create memorable images. When I’m done with a shoot, people typically say it was easier than they expected.

“The other side of photography is technology. It’s hard because that’s always changing in the photo field. There’s also a big emphasis now on creating more content. Clients want to incorporate video with the photography, so I’ve been branching off into that. You need to adapt to how the industry has evolved to stay relevant and successful. The challenge I face on a daily basis is making more and stronger content that is lasting, while also maintaining a value for my business.”

Only one person pushes the shutter button to capture an image, but Farrell said professional photography requires teamwork. A minimum of two assistants accompany him to shoots to help carry gear, set up and adjust lighting and keep an eye on the computer monitor, if necessary, to make sure focus and exposure are ideal.

Farrell returns to his home state fairly often, but not typically for business. The groundbreaking Women’s Running cover story was his first high-profile shoot in the state and his first return to Detroit since he was a child.

“The downtown has changed for the better; it’s such a different place than I remember,” he said. “My wife was with me on the shoot and we had a blast there.”

Prepared By Kristi Evans
News Director 906-227-1015
Kristi Evans

 

Media reports on the cover’s significance, NBC NEWS

More of Farrell’s work, click here  jamesfarrellphoto.com

Learn more about  Photography at Northern Michigan Univerisity

NMU Human Centered Design Student Recognized in National Competition

Winsell Incorporated has announced the winners of the 2016 International Rotational Molding Product Design Competition, including four IDSA Student members. The annual contest inspires emerging industrial design students to create breakthrough consumer products that utilize the latest technologies in rotational molding. Judging criteria includes: originality; processability; growth potential; beauty and visual appeal; tool building compatibility; and use of appropriate materials.

Spark Fire Pit Design
Spark Fire Pit Design

This year, 66 students from Columbus College of Art & Design(link is external) (CCAD); Penn State-Behrend(link is external)University of Wisconsin-Stout(link is external)Purdue University(link is external)Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design(link is external) (MIAD), Ottawa’s Carleton University(link is external) and Northern Michigan University(link is external) participated. IDSA Student Members are among the Honorable Mentions: Thuy Khuu, S/IDSA, of MIAD, for Embrace Chair; Emily Siira, IDSA, of MIAD, for Groom pet wash station; Nathan Warwick, S/IDSA, of Northern Michigan, for Spark outdoor fire pit; and Elizabeth Jackson, S/IDSA, of CCAD, for The Urban Planter.

ISDA News

Human Centered Design at Northern Michigan University

Art Students in Ceramics Travel to Bali to Build Soda Fired Kiln

Associate Professor of Ceramics, Brian Kakas, conducted an internship with 11 current Northern students and Alumni from the Northern Michigan University School of Art & Design that took place for 4 weeks in Bali, Indonesia.

NMU Art Students in Bali
NMU Art Students in Bali

 

The project was the culmination of a 3-year research project in the design and engineering of ceramic kilns conducted by Professor Kakas. The internship took place at Gaya Ceramic Art & Design and Art Center located in Ubud, Bali. The ceramic and design production center designs and fabricates high end one off ceramic product made exclusively by hand and can be found all over the world. During the month at the art center, the students learned about working practices and material science with raw materials in the formulation of clay for artistic and production pursuits. Northern students studied kiln designs and built the first Atmospheric Soda Kiln in Indonesia made from sustainable local materials. After construction was completed, the students worked alongside the worlds foremost researcher in the field, Dr. Gail Nichols a Michigan native currently living in Australia), and studied firing methods and practices using Sodium Carbonate along with LPG fuels.

Soda Fired Kiln (front) being blessed
Soda Fired Kiln (front) being blessed
Soda Fired Kiln - Front
Soda Fired Kiln – Front
Soda Fired Kiln Back
Soda Fired Kiln Back

Throughout these workshops, Northern students explored the rich and vast depths of the Balinese culture of traditional fabric dying, wood carving and jewelry making along with immersion into the cultural history exploring Hindu temples and life in villages. Participating students will be giving a lecture followed by a discussion about their experiences. The lecture is open to the public at the School of Art & Design, room 165 at 2pm, on Tuesday, September 13th.

NMU Ceramics Program