The Stories Behind the Pictures

I thought some people might like to know a bit more about my work that was recently at Gallery 360

Below I'll give a little history behind how each image came about.

Sault Ste Marie Ferry 1996

I took several trips to Northern Michigan to visit the farm where my mother’s uncles lived, which brought me close enough to Sault Ste Marie - the convergence of three Great Lakes and a lock to boot. I have a soft spot for large boats and ferry tours. This was a rather long tour, broken up only a few times by close proximity to cool things like steel mills or thousand-foot-long ore boats. There was this one kid in the seat in front of me, though; chronic, untreatable boredom emanated from him. I had a giant Pentax 6x7 - like a 35mm on steroids, that only gave me 10 shots a roll, so I had to be judicious and sparing with the trigger finger - waiting.

Train Ground, 1991

Most people think this is me, but it’s not, even though there were years when I had a bit more hair than a do now. Living and studying in Europe for a year was pivotal time for me. I spent a day or so in Glasgow with this guy named Stuart. We took the train out to Dumbarton to look at some castle, (cf: Dumbarton Overlook, 1991 below). The right half is a patch of ground in Hude, the small town in northern Germany where I had my first foreign exchange experience in 1987, and returned to four years later. The family I stayed with was so pleased to see me again in my Euro-Trash college finery and fluent German. So much time that year was either spent riding on trains or walking around, that this piece seems the perfect representation for that time.

Sky, 2004

This was from the same trip to Europe that "Clouds 2004” was shot. I don’t recall over which part of the Great Circle Route it came from, but clearly a stretch of the North Atlantic. I was hoping to see Greenland, or maybe Iceland, but no such luck.

Delta Chair, 2012

Almost every time I skied the American Birkebeiner, we would stay at Delta Lodge, a lakeside resort in northern Wisconsin. It has about a dozen dinky little cabins on a small lake, and down the road is a diner that serves gourmet diner fare like red-eye gravy and Sweedish pancakes in the middle of almost nowhere. Sometimes Rya, Nora and I would spend Thanksgiving up there when we had no other family obligations. We’d bring our respective books or crafts and spend a few days puttering away in the quiet.

Planes and Cloud, 2007

When Nora was little, I would take her to the airplane museums at the Anoka airport, and the Minnesota Air Guard base. It worked out well for both of us; I could get my plane-nerd fix taken care of and Nora could wander around in the grass, sit in the cockpits, look in the windows, and ask why her voice would echo when she stuck her head in a giant jet intake vent and yelled, and I got to explain acoustics to her again and again.

Cage Ropes, 2013

Further along at the House on the Rock, there’s a large collection of toy circus sets. Can’t get enough of them. My wife usually brings a book along because I tend to linger.

Indoor Tree, 2013

At the House on the Rock, near the Infinity Room, surrounded by orange shag carpeting, is a clutch of birch trees lit with a can light. Of course I need a picture of that.

Museum Curtains, 2011

I love photographing in museums. I love being in museums. The Natural History Museum in Prague is a favorite; ancient and palatial free of interactive, kid-friendly exhibits, but blessed with room after room of black, lacquered wood cases filled with specimens of all sorts, each carefully placed on a small pedestal, numbered and labeled. I’m not sure why these knots were tied in the blinds, but it was clearly an attempt to keep them open, or some other attempt to affect the temperature in a building without modern climate control.

Soren’s Fork, 1997

My brother-in-law, Soren Priede, is a talented jeweler. Many years ago, he made a set of flatware and I photographed the set, along with some of his other pieces.

Pebbles, 2011

Up at the castle in Prague, near the Cathedral of St Vitus, there was a passage whose floor was made with these smooth black stones - like the kind they use in spas for those hot stone massages.

Doorway, 2013

Before the end of the House on the Rock tour, before the last glimpse of the giant carousel, there’s a few doll houses placed - almost as an afterthought - in a dark hallway, though, to be fair, the whole tour is essentially a dark hallway.

Tower Stairs, 2011

We were in Czesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic. A small, lovely medieval town, bisected by a winding river, complete with a castle that even had a couple tired old bears in its moat. As part of the castle tour, we climbed up the tower. Instead of a railing, there was a heavy rope the size of a child’s arm held to the wall with iron rings. The rope was oiled and dark from centuries of hands making their way up and around to the top.

Before the New Park, 2011

I had a tip that the playgrounds at Lake Harriet and Beard’s Plaisance were going to be rebuilt; the old, no frills monkey bars and see-saws would be replaced with lawyer-proof play systems. I used shoot old playgrounds whenever I was in small towns, so I decided to get some shots of these before they got torn down.

On the Train from Berlin, 2011

We called it our 40-40-20 trip. My wife and I were each turning 40 that year, and we met 20 years ago, so we decided to go back to Europe, where our romance bloomed while we lived in Austria and France at our respective study abroad programs. We flew into Berlin, then after a few days, took a train to Prague, then on to Salzburg, and home via Munich. The train followed the Elbe for a time, and was uncrowded enough that I could wander and shoot out either window without a problem.

Birds on Canvas, 2013

There’s an odd little relief diorama of a medieval scene at the House on the Rock that I’ve photographed many times. These birds, in particular - made with just a few simple brush strokes. On the other side of the scene is a tear in the canvas about the size of one of these birds. The bottom part of the scene with the houses and hills never caught my attention, but those birds and tears certainly did.

Pattern, 2005

I spent a few days in the studio with a few boxes of things that I’d been hang in onto, mostly with the intent to shoot them one day. This is a dress pattern that belonged to my grandmother, who sewed everything, including two shirts a year for her son (my dad) - a short sleeve one for his birthday in April, and a corduroy one for Christmas. The simplest way I thought of to shoot this was to simply tape it to the window.

Dumbarton Overlook, 1991

I was in Glasgow, Scotland, visiting an art school there while I was studying in Salzburg that year. One of the students who showed me around was a guy about my age named Stuart. He was a rock and roller, maybe a couple years older than my twenty, but, like many people I met that year, seemed way cooler. He took me to Dumbarton Castle, on the river Clyde. It was a flat, bright gray day - appropriately Scottish. At the time, I shot Kodak Tech Pan film, mostly with a 28mm lens and sometimes shot without looking through the finder (radical, I know). That year, I spent many hours walking and traveling by train, and I felt that was an important part of my time that year, so I wanted to get shots of myself in these places doing these things, but in a non-timer-and-tripod set up way. With that wide lens it was easy to just hold the camera at arms length and shoot.

Birthday Storm Clouds, 2010

Not long after we finished the cake at my daughter’s 6th birthday party, we noticed the light changed to that greenish yellow that always comes before severe weather. We took a short walk around the block to look at the clouds, but didn’t go far because we knew within minutes the skies would open up. It turned out to be the most tornadoes in a single day in state history.

Clouds, 2004

My wife and I went to London and Paris for 10 days in 2004 - she was 4 months pregnant, so this was sort of a last fling before parenthood began. I always get a window seat when I fly and seldom tire of looking at the clouds and land below.

Nora’s Hand, 2010

Being the daughter of a photographer can’t be easy. When she was little, she more or less did whatever I asked - like stick her hand out of a window without thinking about it. Here we were at the House on the Rock, looking out several hundred feet over the forest below.

Calm Superior, 2011

We were in Duluth for a post 4th of July weekend. Being a midwesterner with a father who fished for salmon, I’ve spent countless hours looking at the waters of the Great Lakes. I was in Milwaukee once, at the art museum right on the water in one of the older upper galleries that overlooks the lake, and there was something transfixing about how the water shimmered and moved that made it hard for me to look away. I sat there for a long time, amongst the Mondrians and Brancusis. I wasn’t able to capture it at the time, but I’ve been trying to ever since, and this is as close as I’ve come.

Envelope Test, 2007

For a few years I worked for a magazine that, while it didn’t pay much, gave me more or less carte blanche to shoot what I wanted to on a given subject. This time the subject was paper. I wrapped a fish in paper, I shot a few stacks of copy paper, a few other things, and this envelope. When I lived in Europe in the early 90’s, I used this one kind of envelope that was the same comforting blue as an interrogation room, but its unique color never failed to alert my girlfriend (now my wife) when there was a letter from me in her stack, plus, being of efficient German manufacture, the adhesive had the most foul taste ever. I put a key in the envelope and made a quick rubbing. I don’t recall if the magazine even used the photo.

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  • train_ground.jpg
  • great_circle_clouds_2004.jpg
  • delta_chair_2012.jpg
  • cloud_and_planes_2007.jpg
  • ropes_on_cage_2013.jpg
  • indoor_tree_2013.jpg
  • museum_curtains_prague_2011.jpg
  • fork.jpg
  • keh_110412_1835.jpg
  • near_final_dollhouse_2013.jpg
  • stairway.jpg
  • beards_plaisance_minneapolis_2011.jpg
  • train_to_prague_2011.jpg
  • birds_on_canvas_2013.jpg
  • pattern_test_2005.jpg
  • woverlook.jpg
  • birthday_storm_clouds_2010.jpg
  • couds_2004.jpg
  • noras_hand_2010.jpg
  • calm_superior.jpg
  • envelope.jpg