The Life and Photo's of Faygo Samuels

In a past life Faygo Samuels was stationed in Vietnam and South America. During downtime Faygo did two things: pair up with a local zoologist to hunt bullfrogs, small primates and other creatures of the South American night so that the rest of his squad could get a decent nights rest, and take photos.

Faygo left high school in the 10th grade, joining the military at 18 to serve in Vietnam. His mother gave him a Kodak Brownie to document what he saw. While stationed in Vietnam, Faygo earned his G.E.D and a better camera, A Petri 35mm camera, along with lenses in a crap game. “I was amazed because if you use a fast shutter speed you can actually stop the propeller blades on a helicopter” he said.

After he left the service Faygo wanted to attend the Center for Creative Studies, he gave his portfolio to an art professor during an entrance interview but she simply picked three of his drawings out of his portfolio as proof that he wasn’t cut out for a career in art and told him to find a different line of work.

Faygo kept dabbling in art, studying art, and architecture, at Washtenaw Community College and Wayne State University. Where he met his wife and they decided to take a break from school and backpack across Europe for a year. In the 70’s, before it was cool.

They hitchhiked through Spain. They lived in a small cottage in Greece for a few months; it’s where Faygo and his wife Phyllis learned to cook with a stone oven. He had to have a tooth pulled in Germany, because the dentist in Greece didn’t know what he was doing.

After he and his fiancé came home from a year abroad they gave college a second try. It took, and Faygo got his bachelor’s degree in Art. It was during that period in his life that Faygo found out what he wanted to do, other than be an explorer, serviceman, South American frog hunter. He wanted to be a photographer.

So he took more photography classes becoming friends with the professors to learn whatever he didn’t already know. His photojournalism professor recommended he go to Ford Motor Company and apply for a job.

So he gathered up his portfolio and went to Ford Motor Company. Faygo met with Bob Berndt, Ford’s head of photography at the time and Faygo was hired on the condition that he made 16 publishable photos an hour.

He had the job for two years before he was laid off but he took the time to get his M.A in education and started working at Ford’s photography department again until 1988. He then transferred to Labor supervision, and then he became a safety engineer for nine years. Then he left to become a labor rep for Visteon until he retired in 2010. But he came back to Woodhaven Stamping to a labor representative where he is today.

See, Faygo, whose real name is Alfred has had a passion for art and photography since he was a kid. He was always artsy and one day his parents bought him a Kodak Instamatic Camera and that’s where it all started. “Everybody used their Instamatic the way it was but I would cock mine this way or that way and people started telling me that I take good photos” He said. Once he found out that he had a talent he never stopped.

His hobby has taken him to Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Peru, Morroco, and Croatia. The man has stepped foot on four out of seven continents. It gave him the confidence to try to do anything he loves. It’s why he gave music a try, Samuel’s and his band dropped an album back in 1979, it may not have gone anywhere, but he tried it and that’s saying something.   

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