My love of Photography has spanned over 54 years and has always associated with the amazing landscape of the northern boreal forests of Minnesota and Ontario. My dad had been a camper at the YMCA Camp Menogyn in the early 1930’s and wanted to introduce us to the countryside, so in 1961, our family took a camping trip to Flour Lake along the Gunflint Trail. I fell in love. We has a simple box camera, the same most families had at that time. It was a Brownie Starmite and my very first camera.
Since then, I haven’t missed a single yearly canoe trip. The country enamored me, and I loved photographing the serene scenery. I read book after book about people going deep into the wilderness and living in log cabins. It became a desire of mine to do the same, and I think I was the only 9th grader in Minneapolis to buy snowshoes! At night, I would walk alone on a lake near us and dream of being in the depths on the Canadian Wilds.
In March of 1965, the most momentous thing in my life happened. I lost my left leg to cancer. The amputation was so high that they took half my pelvis. I wondered if I would ever get my chance to explore the Canadian Wilds.
Then my exclusion started. I had been on a YMCA Camp Menogyn canoe trip in 1964 but now was told I couldn’t go along on the trip because I wouldn’t be able to handle struggles. That hurt more than I would admit, but made me even more determined to go no matter what other people thought. And I was on that trip with my dad and brother in June, only 3 months after my amputation. Soon after, I went on another outing with friends. Money was difficult and financial help came in the form of a very small insurance payout for the loss of a limb, my high school took up a collection and a church potluck raised enough money to get a few things I had been dreaming of. The church sent the money with a note stating that perhaps I could buy a nice TV. Instead, I bought a nice camera with a telephoto lens, a nice canoe and a nice camping outfit. I Was Set!
I started Bemidji State College in the Fall of ’66 and took a couple of photography courses, becoming the year book photographer, and helping new students in the dark room. I was surrounded by new and different cameras, and my eyes opened to a whole new world. Most every kind of camera from 35mm thru 5 x 7 view cameras.
Canoe tripping in the BWCA expanded into Ontario with a new friend I had met while at Bemidji State. They loved the country just as much as I did and we went on many great trips together, out-growing the BWCA and moving onward through Ontario. We organized and pulled off what would be referred to as ‘The Big Trip’. A 400 day, 15 month canoe trip to deep Ontario.
We left in June of 1972, paddled hundreds of miles through amazing country, built the log cabin of my childhood daydreams, stayed through the winter and paddled out in August of 1973.
The camera I used to record the event was a 4 x 5 view camera - a Linhof Kardan Bi with 3 lenses. I made payments on it for 3 years, but it was the coolest camera and the worst choice I could have made. It was cumbersome and slow and many photo opportunities were sadly missed.
I now travel mostly by kayak on solo trips to very large lakes in Ontario and usually go out for 3 weeks to a month each trip. Even though I have been taking photographs for many years, a truly great shot is still hard to come by. I endeavor to capture the essence of the wild places I go . . . and sometimes I succeed. I will always have a love for black and white photography, which seems to be disappearing in popularity these days. I also lean more toward the abstract than some folks; it’s what strikes me most.
My editing is now done on a computer, but years in the darkroom taught me about visualization and editing translating directly from film to digital. I do not edit any photo differently than I would in the darkroom; it is just a great deal easier. Even now I’m digitizing some old film as well. Although I have published a couple of book covers, I have not entered any contests yet and have not actively sought to publish. I feel as if I’m starting all over again, excited about photographing the great wild during my many continued adventures.