Tell me a little about your relationship to the Great Lakes and how that inspired you to publish the Lake Michigan Portfolio and Legends of Light.
I was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, and the Great Lakes have been dear to me since I was a small boy. The north shore has provided my family with many good memories, stories and of many adventures spent along its shores, woods and rivers. I have always been overwhelmed by Lake Superior’s ruggedness. In contrast, and after having lived in Michigan for several years as an adult, Lake Michigan captivates me with it subtleness. It is a very powerful place, full of history, its fishing villages, its people, it is just a truly wonderful body of water. With that, and all of Michigan in general, comes its historic lighthouses. Say what you want about the east coast lighthouses, the Great Lakes are the Great Lakes because if its lighthouses. The combination of those two elements simply led me as an artist to attempt to capture this spirit on film in two very fascinating book projects.
What is your approach to/philosophy of nature photography?
I try to let nature tell her story. I also try not to intervene with the art of photography to become to heavy-handed in telling that story. One thing I try to do is shoot in whatever conditions exist on any given day. I don’t wait to create a shot, because nature does wait for me to create a photograph. That’s the fun part. I also love creating long exposures, letting waves smear across the viewfinder or letting autumn leaves paint their own story on the top of my film. Sounds silly, but is true. There is nothing better than seeing an image that nature created for me.
Do you think photography can do anything for our environment that legislation/citizen activism can't?
Absolutely. It has the ability to compel a citizenry to action. We are at a crossroads with photography and the environment. How so? Well, we are quickly turning from a film based art, which is exceptionally archival, to a digital based medium. Capturing this on film is very important to me. Because film in some ways is finite. It has the ability to contain truth. Especially when it comes to the environment. It is my goal to capture as much of this on film before it is to late. I often tell people, - I have nothing against digital, it is great, however, I can hold a piece of film in my hand. You can’t hold a digital file in your hand. Both can make wonderful prints in there next forms, but film is tangible and I would it hope never be replaced for its importance in the preservation of the natural landscape and its people. I love moving forward and new technology is wonderful, but I often wonder in the realm of photographic history, how much we might lose by shoving film aside so quickly? That said, film or digital photography has the power to persuade, or motivate or encourage citizens to take charge of their natural heritage in the Great Lakes. There are events happening all the time that are changing the course of Great Lakes, and it would be a shame to only have photographs of such an incredible resource. I am just an artist, but I have seen changes to our Great Lakes that are alarming and irreplaceable. I would encourage others to capture its spirit in word or art and to show the world that the Great Lakes is our Grand Canyon, our Yosemite, our Everglades.
What are the differences between Great Lakes awareness in Minnesota and Michigan?
That’s a loaded question, one that I am not sure I can answer fairly or accurately. I do know this, that both Minnesota and Michigan has hundreds of citizens who care deeply for its outcomes concerning its natural heritages and its natural resources. I look forward to the day when all citizens are actively involved in protecting these great treasures. If not, our Great Lakes may be in peril.
What future plans do you have for Great Lakes work?
It is my goal, my dream actually, to keep photographing the Great Lakes and its stories until I can no longer walk its shores or amble through its wooded paths. Look about you and listen, there are many stories to share. I am extremely grateful to live and work in the Great Lakes region.