Lighthouses, fishing villages and boats, ships, and sailing vessels of the Great Lakes
For most of my life, I’ve lived near the Great Lakes, either in Michigan where I grew up, or in Wisconsin, where I came to rest following three job relocations. The proximity of the Great Lakes and the many photo opportunities they offer led me to begin photographing lighthouses in the early 1980s. Throughout the ’80s, ’90s, and into the 2000s I visited and photographed over 250 lighthouses.
My first lighthouse image was actually a painting, not a photograph. While a student at Michigan Tech, I sometimes fled to the shores of Lake Superior seeking relief from the stresses of college life. One of those trips took me to Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, on the western shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where I painted the watercolor image shown below.
Eagle Harbor, Michigan Lighthouse – Watercolor by Phillip L. Block
I started photographing lighthouses in 1982, on a trip up the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. The trip concluded in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. My fascination with lighthouses grew throughout the 1980s, and I was soon planning travel for the express purpose of photographing lighthouses. I also joined a lighthouse enthusiast group, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA). As the 1980s unfolded, I found myself on boats cruising to many offshore lighthouses, in addition to photographing beacons on shore.
As my collection of lighthouse photos and experiences grew, fate intervened. In 1989, I was discussing my photographic interests with some friends, and a member of the Sailing Club of the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee asked if I could do a slide show for them. This request came in November of that year, and we agreed upon a date in the following February for the show.
Over the next couple months, I wrote the script for the show, which debuted as scheduled on a beautiful winter night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s really refreshing to see all the open water in my photos during a frigid Wisconsin winter!
In the 1990s, the internet age dawned, and I decided to publish my photography online. My companion photo site Lightstations.com was launched in 1999, and was recently redesigned, reconstructed, and remains a showcase for my lighthouse photography.
Lightstations.com Home Page
In Great Lakes Maritime section of the Modern galleries, several of my maritime interests are on display. Besides lighthouses, I also enjoy photographing tall ships whenever I have the opportunity to do so.