By Megan Swoyer
Last fall, Brad Reed was channeling an eagle when contemplating the possibility of creating a children’s book. Not just any eagle, he thought, but one who was seasoned and wise. “The idea of an older bald eagle with great vision taking a young bald eagle on a journey to teach it how to see and earn its eagle eyes just popped into my head,’’ says Reed, a Ludington-based photographer and co-owner of Todd & Brad Reed Photography. He told his father, Todd, also a professional photographer and the gallery’s co-owner, about the idea, and also shared it with his girlfriend, Rachel Gaudette of Custer, who’s also a photographer and general manager at the gallery.
“We all got very excited about the possibilities of that story,” Reed says. He wrote the rough draft that day. Next, Gaudette re-wrote it and “made it way better,” Reed says. Then Todd created a more active voice throughout the book. The goal was to keep it at a second-grade reading level.
Michigan BLUE got together with the trio and discovered that they all rolled up their sleeves and did almost everything (except for the printing) themselves to create the book. “They Call Me Eagle Eyes: A Picture Book for All Ages” (June 2023, 48 pages, hard cover) features beautiful photography and words that children will adore. Michigan BLUE chatted with the team about the journey involved in creating their first children’s book.
Michigan BLUE: (This story) sounds like something an adult would like, as well as young kids. Was a broad audience one of your goals for the book?
Brad Reed: Yes. The book was created with kids in mind, but as the title suggests, it’s really a book for all ages.
MB: How many photos are featured in the book?
BR: Seventy-five. They’re photos we’re known for, including lighthouses, shoreline, countryside, wildlife, and more. Every image was taken in Michigan, but we don’t mention that anywhere in the book because we want it to sell globally.
MB: What’s your favorite spread in the book?
BR: The page that says, “Even ole Eagle Eyes enjoys diving in nature’s bathtub! Look at those rocks, which is your favorite?” The image on the left-hand side of that spread is our best-selling photograph. Its title is “Exhilarating.” It‘s never been published in any of the other 12 books that we’ve published, so for me, it’s very cool to finally see it in a book. The photo on the right-hand side of that spread was from the same 10-minute shoot. I shot those with our underwater housing in October in Lake Superior, at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at 12 Mile Beach.
Todd Reed: I love the spread with the trillium. The young eagle reminds me of how, as a child, I loved learning to see and appreciate the world around me, how I never wanted to miss seeing anything as I traveled or hiked with my parents. The mature eagle reminds me of how I’ve learned to see better with a lot of years of experience, and how I maintain a childlike excitement about trying to see the world around me better than ever. There’s so much beauty to discover and savor!
Rachel Gaudette: On one spread there are several images. I had fun playing with the idea of I Spy. I spent time looking through all of our images and found several that we’d never printed before, but that fit this theme perfectly. I think a lot of readers, young and old, will enjoy looking at this spread.
More info.: The book can be purchased at toddandbradreed.com, or in the gallery, Todd & Brad Reed Photography, 114 W. Ludington Ave., Ludington; 231-843-0777.