The Green Frog Photo Story
Green Frog Photo came together as a group of photographers with a wide range of styles and personalities who wanted to explore specific areas while learning from each other. The result is a powerful collaboration, and a studio that can offer you the right shooter for the right job.
JD HAGE / FOODIE
“Growing up in an ethnic home makes food more than about just eating. It's social, it's entertaining, it's bonding – it is love. And it has shaped my passion for shooting people, products and food.”
As a commercial photographer specializing in food and location shooting, I’m always uncovering new restaurants and interesting places to visit and explore. I love everything about growing, preparing, cooking and presenting food.
I’m based in West Michigan, which is known for its farm-to-table centric community, and I enjoy being a part of the local restaurant scene, working with chefs, artisanal and slow food businesses, local sustainable farms, craft beer breweries and wine makers. Now the rest of the world has come calling for me to work in new and distant settings.
Why did I choose food photography?
It chose me. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by my Polish and Lebanese relatives. Growing up in an ethnic home makes food more than about just eating. It's social, it's entertaining, it's bonding – it is love. And it has shaped my passion for shooting people, products and food.
When I smell spices, I can feel how they will blend together, and when I look at food I am shooting, I can see how it will become an image. My goal is to make food appear honest and inviting, like welcoming someone to your table.
Fun is a requirement. It can lead to some pretty amazing creative solutions.
I have a strong work ethic – it’s how I was raised, and I believe in developing a partnership with each individual client. I like to have fun while I work. It’s a requirement for each of my projects, and it can lead to some pretty amazing creative solutions. When you work with me, you have the benefit of working with a photographer who cannot only draw on over 25 years of experience, but who can also leverage the latest techniques and technologies to guide your project. After attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, I opened my own studio, and I’ve in business ever since then.
My images have been used for videos, television ads, billboards, websites, national magazines, food publications, packaging and in-store merchandising for national retailers, cookbooks and more. Plus, I work with some of the most talented food stylists in the industry.
If you'd like to talk about a project, contact me. We'll grab dinner together.
SETH THOMPSON / WEIRDO
“I love making an authentic connection with people I meet that feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. It’s a connection that I think is instantly noticeable when you look at the images.”
I tend to shoot in wider angles than you normally would for portraiture. I do this for two reasons. First, I want to show the environment the person is in and second, this style requires that I’m closer to the subject than I could be with a longer lens. We all have energy about us, and for me, the photos are better when the subject and photographer’s energies are closer to each other.
I could have been a hillbilly.
I grew up in a town so small that just a couple years ago they finally got a stoplight. A town so small, just four houses up the street from me within city limits, there was a farm with cattle. You had to be careful where you sat to watch baseball games because the cows would come by the fence and eat your hair.
From a very young age, I knew I wasn’t meant to live in a small town. I wanted to meet new people rather than already knowing everyone, so I set off for the "sprawling metropolis" of Madison, Wisconsin (hey, it seemed big at the time). I got my BFA from the University of Wisconsin and moved to Chicago, where I lived for 12 years working in advertising. As soon as our first daughter was born, I thought that seemed like a good time to go back to grad school, so I also got a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College.
Photography is unfamiliar territory every day. As it should be.
The part of my job that I love the most is getting on a plane, traveling to a new town, and making an authentic connection with people I've just met that feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. It’s a connection that I think is instantly noticeable when you look at the images.
Because of the many challenges that location photography presents – everything from selecting the right location to working with/fighting against the weather – I prefer shooting on location rather than in the studio. We often joke, saying "If you're not scared, you're not trying hard enough", but it's true; in over my head is my favorite place to be.
My musical background is more important than ever.
When I was a teenager, my plan was to be an off-the-grid mountain man. I ditched those plans when I realized if I was off the grid, there'd be nowhere to plug in a stereo or any of my amplifiers. I moved to Madison specifically to have a bigger talent pool in which to find a band to play in. I became a professional photographer when I was splitting my time between photography and being a gigging songwriter, and told the universe "Okay, I don't care which it is, but either music or photography has to start earning a sustainable living." That week, I got my first well-paid commercial photo gig, and that was that. I never stopped playing music, though. And now as a filmmaker and editor, that musical background is more important than ever. When I'm editing video, I put it together as though I'm writing a song, with verses, choruses, crescendos, and quiet. And often times I end up soundtracking the video by recording the music myself. I love it, because all of my creative worlds have collided perfectly in the realm of video production.
When not shooting, I am a dad to four rambunctious kids with minds of their own, husband to a spitfire empath, and I spend as much time as I can outdoors hiking and biking. I’m also one of the founding members of Until Love Is Equal, a Grand Rapids LGBT rights group.
JEFF HUYCK / DETAIL ENTHUSIAST
“My goal is to create photos that convey a true and exciting sense of a space; to show the way the building is designed to look as well as how it’s used.”
I’ve been interested in the structure, function and design of buildings since I was young. Seeing how they are designed and then capturing not only the structure – but how they function – is fascinating to me. My goal is to create photos that convey a true and exciting sense of a space; to show the way the building is designed to look as well as how it’s used.
Clients mainly use the photographs I shoot for them to demonstrate their capabilities and processes. They are featured in project proposals and as visuals for professional awards entries that are used to generate new business and growth.
I grew up on a farm in central Michigan.
Growing up, I discovered that a little isolation encourages some healthy problem-solving habits. I learned to define problems and bring unrelated skills and knowledge together to create a solution, which has been very beneficial in my approach to architectural photography.
I've been fascinated with photography since I was about 12, when my grandmother gave me an old Kodak box camera. There was a magical element to the way it preserved a moment in time. It wasn't until college that it finally occurred to me that I could make a career out of my passion.
After graduating with a BFA from Alma College, I worked for a variety of studios throughout Michigan, and then started my own in Grand Rapids in 1979. Ten years ago, I merged my studio with another partner and JD Hage to form Green Frog Photo. Working together, we augmented each other's strengths. Much like musicians, we riffed off of each other, pushing ourselves further than we ever would have alone. All things change. Over time, the other partner moved into teaching, and JD’s food photography work expanded as well as my work with architecture clients.
It’s important to me to give back to my community.
Together with my wife, I have volunteered with housing projects such as Habitat for Humanity locally, and through Church World Service at building sites from Pennsylvania to Honduras. We have also been involved in local food programs as well as volunteering through West Michigan Therapy Dogs. We take our two trained therapy dogs to the local Ronald McDonald House, our local veterans facility, and the Ruff Readers program at our local library.
If you would like to learn more about how I work or talk to me about your next project, just contact me.