One of the things I love about photography the most is remembering actually taking the images, especially when looking at old photos. So back when I was a teenager myself my friends and I would frequent the Sturgeon Bay and Door County area when we had some time on our hands. One place I remember taking a series of black and white film shots of my friends Alan and Jeremy was at this old mine on the Sturgeon Bay shoreline. I still have this image burned in my brain of them being crazy in the mine opening with a grafittied Misfits logo painted behind them. It was such a great picture. It hung in my darkroom for years. A number of moves across country and some other life changes = I no longer have the print or the negative 😔)
But the memory remains and I am always trying to come up with very unique locations for our High School Seniors. A couple of years back I reached out to Jeremy and inquired about where this all went down. He gave me the directions and I have been out there a few times since to take black and white film and a few portraits. The area is very overgrown now and the Mine has (had) quite a few trees growing in front of it making it somewhat unusable for pictures. A couple of times I thought I could clear this out with a saw-zall and it would make for some great pictures…..
Well when I was brainstorming for a location for our upcoming senior model Grace Lindsley – who is quite the dancer – This place popped into my head. I could see a really cool silhouette at the opening of the mine shaft. Only problem was the trees ruined the shot.
I decided I would go up early one morning and clear the trees with a battery powered saw-zall. Now I am not sure who owns that land and I am pretty sure no one is real concerned about the weed type tree that was overgrowing in front of the mines but I was still a little sketched out by the whole thing. So of course when I show up and walk the 100 yards or so to get back to the mine there are a bunch of fishing boats right on the edge of the bay about 100-200 feet from where I need to be working. I really did not want to explain myself so I just started cutting the brush down as quietly as one can with a power tool. It was a little more work than I anticipated (especially with an entourage of fishermen looking at me and scratching their heads) I did have a camera with me and set it up to take a few pictures as to make it look like I was not all the way crazy. (not sure if it helped) The one fisherman yelled from his boat “you must see something that I do not see, all I see is a bunch of graffiti.” I just muttered under my breadth “Indeed” and went about my business.
Now I had cleared a bunch of the branches that were impeding the shot I wanted, but could not reach some at the top. I climbed on the top of the mine shaft with the saw-zall in hand stretched as far as I could but could not get to the branches I needed to. Realizing I did not want to chance dying for this shot I decided to head into town to find a tree trimming pole. I did find (a fairly expensive one mind you) tree trimming rig that once I got it out to my vehicle had to turn right back around and buy wrenches to put the thing together with. (twice😁)
Oh what a day this was turning into. My plan was to be in and out of Sturgeon Bay in an hour or so. Now it is going on 12:30pm. I got there at 9am. But I had come this far and was not going to quit now. When I made it back, to my delight the fishing boats were all gone and I could do my tree trimming in privacy! The trimming pole worked a treat and in no time I had the Mine cleared. I got out of there without falling from the top of a mine or tree and did not have to explain myself to any sort of officials 👌 Mission accomplished.
That is what I did to get the shot. So worth it. Grace was able to hold this pose which was exactly what I had envisioned weeks before I ever cut a branch with a saw.