ALPENA - Aspiring photographer Shannon Johnson of Alpena received encouragement from an unlikely source last month when Jones Soda Co., a Washington-based beverage maker, chose one of her photos to be printed on soda labels around the country.
A longtime amateur with no professional training but a new camera and personal interest, Johnson took pictures of her 14-year-old son Kameron performing bike stunts at the Mich-e-ke-wis skate park in September 2011 with no plan to see them publicized. She said one of the photos was particularly popular with friends and family, and Kameron's brother suggested in January that she submit it online to Jones Soda Co., an alternative-brand beverage company known for using photos from fans to decorate its labels.
"My youngest son is into drinking the Jones pop, and we've always looked at the pictures, and he said, 'Hey, look! You can send your picture in,'" she said. "And everyone loved that picture that I took at the bike park, so everyone said, 'You should send that,' and then I finally did, and within an hour they sent me back an email saying that I got a staff pic, which is kind of like being in the finals."
News Photo by Andrew Westrope
Alpena resident Shannon Johnson, left, snaps a picture of her son Kameron at the Mich-e-ke-wis bike park on Thursday, reenacting a moment captured by a photo last September that Jones Soda Co. will print on bottles of its blue bubblegum soda. The alternative-brand beverage company is known for printing photos of its fans, but being selected is rare; staff only accepts 1 percent of the thousands of photos submitted online.
It was another six months until a "congratulations" letter came in the mail, informing her that the photo was among 1 percent of those chosen by staff for circulation on its bottle labels. She didn't win any free products, but Jones Soda gave her a memento for her winning photo.
"I got six original labels. I didn't get any pop, but they sent me six original labels, so I know that they're in circulation now, but as far as when they hit stores, none of that was (included)," Johnson said.
She submitted more photos for fun and hasn't heard back about them, but she enjoyed the recognition as a stepping stone on the way to turning her hobby into a profession. Kameron said the story brought a lot of attention from friends and on Facebook, and some of his friends, as well as hers, have asked her to take their pictures riding the ramps or at social functions.
Johnson sees it as treat.
"I think it's very cool," she said. "It was a goal of mine."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.