Grace Dickinson & Leelanau County’s Female Photographers

WomenPhotographers-GraceDickinson-SteamerMissouri

Steamer “Missouri” docked in Leland in 1919, photo by unknown, hand colored by Dickinson Photography

This week’s Glen Arbor Sun has a terrific feature by my friend Kathleen Stocking on Six Leelanau County Women Photographers. She profiles Barbara Nowinski, Kathleen (Dodge) Buhler, Meggen Watt Peterson, Ashmir McCarthy, Marty Schilling and Grace Dickinson. Here’s Grace:

Grace Dickinson has a photo studio across the road from the place her grandparents first came to on the south shore of Little Glen Lake in the summer of 1912. Her grandparents traveled to the Leelanau Peninsula by steamer, from the Navy Pier in Chicago up Lake Michigan to Glen Haven. In 1942 her parents met and fell in love while her mother was a writer/editor at the Leelanau Enterprise and soon after became year-round residents. Grace’s father, Fred, a broker who worked from home, spent his free time photographing the dunes and the islands. One unusual photo shows a cloud the exact size of one of the Manitou Islands, above the island, a rare phenomenon caused by condensation when the temperature of the island is colder than that of the surrounding waters of Lake Michigan.

From an early age, Grace followed in her father’s footsteps, quite literally, accompanying him and sometimes photographing the same scenes. Grace left her studies at Northwestern Michigan College to go on a year-long sailing adventure in the Bahamas, and followed this with a two-decade-sojourn out in Montana where she married a rancher and finished college. Grace returned to the Leelanau Peninsula in the late 1980s and became a mapmaker for the Leelanau County Planning Commission. She began taking photos of the Leelanau Peninsula and opened her own studio out of which she sold her own and her father’s photos and maps. In the mid-1990s she revived the 1930s art of photographic hand-coloring, laboriously hand-tinting her father’s black and white photos of earlier years, photos which evoke the shadows and starkness of some of the photos of Diane Arbus, but as applied to nature, not people. In the medium of hand-coloring Grace discovered a way to keep her father’s legacy alive and express her own love of Leelanau. Her photo studio is on Glenmere (M-22) west of the bridge over the Glen Lake Narrows.

Head over to the Glen Arbor Sun for more! The photo above is labeled as having been taken in Glen Arbor in 1909, but former Leelanau Historical Museum Director Laura Quackenbush identified it as Leland’s dock. The photo was hand-colored by Grace from an old negative on glass found in the Leelanau Enterprise office during the time her parents (briefly) owned it.

If you’re interested in more work bu Grace and her father, head over to Dickinson Photography. I’ve also featured several photos from Fred Dickinson on Michigan in Pictures, and you can click that link to read a little about the coloring process.

2 thoughts on “Grace Dickinson & Leelanau County’s Female Photographers

  1. I do not appreciate the coloring process. Black and white is a beautiful art and should be left as such. I don’t know why anyone would ruin vintage black and white photos by adding color to them. Same goes for black and white movies. I feel they should be left as such. Just saying!

    Like

  2. Hi Marsha – thanks for sharing your opinion.

    Hand-colorization of black and white photos was quite common in the past … perhaps because people didn’t appreciate their colorful world being rendered in black & white!

    I appreciate that Grace and her father have carried this art forward to the modern day when black & white is a choice rather than the only game in town!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s