Sometimes cold and blustery, sometimes mild, spring arrives in Michigan with fanfare each year by wildflower enthusiasts and others who hope to shake off winter’s torpor. It is a dynamic time in nature, that of rushing streams and flowers in bloom, of tree blossoms, nest building and nurturing young.
For well-known nature photographers, Todd and Brad Reed of Ludington, it’s a great time to be out. The father and son photo team shoot 365 days a year, but springtime is always special.
“Spring fills me with a sense of hope. Hope for new beginnings, magic light, big clouds and lots of photography adventures,” said Brad Reed, never one to shirk a good shot no matter the weather and known to chase images on the nastiest of days.
“Nothing excites me more about spring than seeing new life and new colors increasingly transforming the Michigan outdoors,” adds Todd, Brad’s father. “I crave orchards in full bloom, fawns in meadows and songbirds amidst new leaves shimmering in the spring breeze.”
In May, the Reeds will release their seventh book of photos called “Wondrous West Shore” a compilation of images from nine West Michigan lakeshore counties, from Grand Traverse and Leelanau to Ottawa and Kent.
“Nothing excites me more about spring than seeing new life and new colors increasingly transforming the Michigan outdoors. I crave orchards in full bloom, fawns in meadows and songbirds amidst new leaves shimmering
in the spring breeze.”
— Todd Reed
“Our previous books were Michigan-wide projects, but we decided to pull back and focus on the West Shore,” noted Todd, who began shooting photographs 35 years ago, 23 of which were spent working as an award-winning photojournalist with the Ludington Daily News. His work involved telling stories and capturing the natural beauty of everyday life in small towns and rural areas before he turned to nature photography full time, opened a studio/gallery and later went into business with his son.
“I was blessed to have been brought up by parents that worked hard and played hard outdoors,” said Todd, now 69 years old, easily recognized by his long white hair. “We were hikers and fishermen, and I developed a great appreciation for being at home in the outdoors. My passion for the outdoors turned naturally into a passion for outdoor photography. It’s invigorating, spiritual and peaceful compared to my news photo days.”
Todd and Brad are known for their striking images, dramatic fields of flowers, powerful lakeshore scenes, barns and other bucolic farm visages, even anglers wading on winter days; each image a mood, an emotional experience, though their approaches may diverge.
Brad, who grew up carrying his father’s photo gear on shoots when he was young, eventually began shooting on his own and developed an affinity for fine detail and abstraction, where Todd prefers grand vistas, images with a strong foreground, middle and background. Both say they are drawn to images that evoke some emotion.
“I’m the adrenaline junkie, even on a cold, foggy morning,” said Brad, now 40 years old. “Lake Michigan storms are my favorite subjects. … It doesn’t get any better than that. I just love what we do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“Spring fills me with a sense of hope. Hope for new beginnings, magic light, big clouds and lots of photography adventures.”
— Brad Reed
In college, Brad studied to become a teacher. He eventually decided elementary teaching wasn’t what he wanted. Later, while working on a master’s degree in social work, Brad said he decided to follow his heart.
His father, a longtime U.S. Coast Guard reservist, had been called to full-time active duty following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City. He’d been away from his photo studio/gallery for nearly three years, and the business was foundering. So, Brad made him an offer: to work for free to rebuild the business — which he did — and the two then formed a partnership called Todd and Brad Reed Photography (toddandbradreed.com).
In this issue of BLUE, we celebrate spring with a hand-picked selection of Todd and Brad’s favorite spring images. Learn what inspires each of them, and if you travel through Ludington this summer, visit their gallery at 114 W. Ludington Ave., Ludington.
On a Mission
The unexpected sight of a hummingbird causes me to quickly shift my focus to the speedy bird as it darts toward the next blossom at Ludington State Park.
Old Mission Quilt
Fruit blossoms and a barn quilt provide the perfect adornment, compelling me to
photograph a classic barn while rambling about Old Mission Peninsula.
Yellow Goat’s Beard
We love discovering flowers during our Michigan outdoor adventures. The layered symmetry of this yellow goat’s beard commands my attention.
A newborn fawn hides from predators but catches my eye. I shoot quickly from a distance with a telephoto lens so as not to threaten the beautiful creature.
Sleepy Time Trillium
A lone white trillium visually leaps out at me from the contrasting forest floor on Pierce Stocking Drive at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The trillium is clearly the star of the show.
Seeing the tulips in Holland reminds me of the joy my grandfather and mother got from watching tulips bloom in their garden at my boyhood home.
Ludington State Park
I want to emphasize the attentiveness a mother goose displays in guiding her goslings through Ludington State Park.
Ludington Shining Bright
My dad and I teach photographers: “Clouds are your friends.” These clouds and rays above the Ludington lighthouse look extremely friendly.
Howard Meyerson is the managing editor of Michigan BLUE Magazine.