Photographers greeting cards
offer a touch of Northern Michigan
By Erin Crowell
Noah Creamer was just finishing his degree from Grand Valley State University when the economy started hitting rock bottom. For the Suttons Bay native, it was either scrap for a minimum wage job or work really hard.
Creamer chose the latter.
With a little sweat, some 50 to 70 hour work weeks and some inspiration from his 12-year-old daughter, Creamer turned a love for photography and the beauty of Northern Michigan into a fulltime business.
Social Explorations is a multi-media company that utilizes the natural landscape of the area for tourist promotion and business ventures through greeting cards, corporate banners and other forms of media.
One of the philosophies of Social Explorations is promote local, use local. Creamer uses local printer Britten Banners to produce some of his larger works; and he has provided his images to a number of local businesses, including the Leelanau Brewing Company.
Ive known Noah for a number of years, says Charles Psenka, owner of the Leelanau brewery. Ive also known him to be an insightful, thoughtful person with an insight into human nature.
Psenka needed high-resolution shots to help advertise his beer and thought of Creamer. So, the two packed up the products and headed down to Whaleback Beach, or Carp River Point near Leland, and took photos of Psenkas beer on a Northern Michigan backdrop.
My first beer (Whaleback White) was named after that place, says Psenka.
A SOCIAL ENDEAVOR
Im a big fan of Northern Michigan -- Leelanau County especially, says Creamer. Social Explorations came from my love of exploring, interacting with the environment and my passion for sociology.
Originally, Creamers plan was to pursue his masters in sociology. When he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in liberal studies from GVSU through the Northwestern Michigan College University Center in 2008, financial woes put that dream on hold.
Ive always thought of graphic media arts as more of a hobby. But I felt there was a need for it.
So, Creamer turned his hobby into a fulltime career, creating a business that has survived and flourished in its first year.
LIKE DAUGHTER, LIKE FATHER
My daughter is a big inspiration, says Creamer. I really was learning about the business from her.
Creamers 12-year-old daughter Sierra has had the same interest in photography and has stepped up, making her own personal career. One example includes Creamers work with weddings. He has been the photographer for the weddings of friends and family. Sometimes, he would even officiate, which would pose a problem: Who would take the pictures?
I said, Well, how about Sierra? So, she started covering the 15 or so minutes I was up there officiating. She really knows what shes doing.
(Sierra) is very much a part of this business. Im not saying she has to take it over someday, but its nice to show her, this is how Dad makes his money. Shes even taking photos for her middle school dances.
Local stores, such as Annies in downtown Traverse City, carry Creamers greeting cards and sell them for around $3.
The greeting cards are an inexpensive way for visitors to take a piece of Northern Michigan home with them, says Creamer.
Some of those images might include the docked boats in Charlevoixs harbor, the jet trails of the Blue Angels flying over Traverse City, or the dunes of Glen Arbor.
Creamer says his end goal would be to set up a scholarship fund for GSVU University Center students through his greeting card sales.
Most scholarships are geared towards students living on campus. A lot of students at the university center are older, non-traditional students. Its just an incredible institution and Id like to give back to it, says Creamer.
For more products, photos and information on Social Explorations, go to www.socialexplorations.com or call 231-668-9644. You can pick up Creamers cards at any of the following locations: Papers and Presents, Annies, and The Cherry Stop, Traverse City; Andersons Market, The River, and Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor; Pegtown Station of Maple City, Michigans Gifts & Treasures, Interlochen; Plant Masters, Suttons Bay; Manitou Island Transit in Leland; and Between the Covers Bookstore of Harbor Springs.