Visions of Michigan is a new photographic book by Michigan native, Richard Thompson, who sets out to capture the charm and candor of Michigan in 148 pages. From stunning scenes of Northern Michigan’s outdoors, like the beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes, to candid shots of wildlife, Visions of Michigan and its vibrant images encapsulate the quiet beauty of the Mitten’s natural landscapes.
A Labor of Love
For Thompson, what began as a casual affair photographing Michigan’s outdoors six years ago evolved into an engrossing endeavor spanning the scope of both the lower and upper peninsulas as well as the Great Lakes. An ambitious undertaking, but one fueled by passion and perseverance.
“Michigan is a relatively big state, so producing a respectable body of work characterizing such a broad theme and territory was simply going to take a lot of time and effort,” says Thompson. “My longtime interest in visual arts and encouragement from family and friends provided the inspiration and support needed to achieve my goal.”
The result of these countless hours of traveling and shooting is a hardcover book featuring 140 colorful and captivating photographs documenting the natural beauty of Michigan’s landscapes and lakeshores. Check out the slideshow below for a sample of Visions of Michigan.
Click the arrows in the upper-right corner of the gallery to enlarge images; hit “Escape” on keyboard to exit full-screen:
Michigan natives as well as those who make the trek Up North year after year for summer vacation know that our state is a giant, natural playground. This freedom of exploration and the endless picturesque perspectives were enough to keep Thompson going on his quest to document the Mitten, one shot at a time.
“I enjoy the adventure of discovery, element of surprise, and unexpected beauty there is to find in Michigan,” he reflects. “Traveling far and abroad is tempting, but I believe there’s much to appreciate right here in Michigan that’s often overlooked and worthy of attention. The vast wonder of the Great Lakes, variety of natural features and diverse seasons keep Michigan uniquely interesting.”
Thompson says the most sublime views he’s experienced have been in some of the many stretches of lakeshore and state parks scattered throughout the state. “The Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks, and Isle Royale offer some of the most captivating natural scenery you’ll find anywhere in the Midwest,” he states. “Michigan’s state parks, such as the Porcupine Mountains, Tahquamenon Falls, and Silver Lake, to name a few, are no less impressive.”
Trial and Error
Although the journey of creating the images that would later comprise Visions of Michigan was indeed a colorful one, Thompson had his share of disappointments along the way. Photography is a medium of light after all, and when your subject is the great outdoors and controlled by the unpredictable wrath of Mother Nature, prime conditions often only arise by chance. That, and a healthy dose of patience.
“With outdoor photography, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst: sometimes you hit a home run and other times you strike out and have to walk away without a single decent shot,” Thompson mused. “The most memorable moments I’ve photographed are probably those instances when I’ve busted my tail and have gone the extra mile to reach some remote destination, only to be met with dismal light or dull skies. I can’t seem to forget the utter disappointment I experience at those times.”
But even these mishaps had their silver lining: the dismay of each failed expedition transformed into lessons of composure and humility, especially to an artist dependent on the whims of nature. “One thing I’ve learned is to try to take it all in stride and enjoy the journey, no matter the outcome.”
Photography As a Portal to the Past
The link between taking photos and a deeply rooted appreciation for the outdoors is one that is inherent to Richard Thompson.
“My affection for nature was nurtured during my childhood,” he recalls. “When I was a young boy, little else held my fascination longer on a hot and humid summer afternoon than a trek in the woods along the banks of the winding river beyond my own backyard.”
Now, photographing the Great Lakes State is a way for Thompson to revisit those memories while simultaneously sharing his personal visions of Michigan with others.
“Hiking Michigan’s backwoods and shorelines rekindles that same boyhood sense of adventure I enjoyed in my youth,” he says. “While exploring Michigan’s outdoors may not be quite as easy on the knees anymore, I think it’s really good for the soul.”