Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Tina at Sleeping Bear

While I was in Michigan last week I took the opportunity to undertake a rarity: a shoot with a model engaged from the location where I was staying. My home town, Beulah, lies very close to the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, a beautiful part of Michigan featuring these very large and very photogenic sand dunes. (I won’t go into the rich history of the area, including the Native American lore that leads to its name, but you can read some of it on the National Park Service pages linked to above.)

I contacted Miss Tina-Marie, who readily agreed to work with me. After some confusion regarding where to meet (and how to get there), we hooked up at about 6 p.m. one evening. I drove her on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to the Lake Michigan overlook parking area, and we walked along the dune face to a point where a barely visible trail led off through the sand. Taking that, we reached a secluded area and began photographing, first with cloud cover but then (as above) with the strong late afternoon sun.

She’s a beautiful young woman with a real enthusiasm for modeling, much of which she said was on nude shoots. I can understand why. It was a wonderful way to spend my last evening on this Michigan trip. (Another from the shoot below.)

Tina at Sleeping Bear

Interestingly, although she’s lived in the area for at least a couple years, she’d never visited the Dunes. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if she didn’t now bring a photographer or two there herself.
(Photos removed at model’s request.)


Many throughout society are concerned regarding the plebeian records of our times. Between the emails and blogs, what is written goes into the aether and for all intents and purposes disappears. Sure people may be archiving to hard drives, but what of those masses of emails stored on remote servers in the “gmail” or “yahoo” domains? What do people do with their blog entries? (Personally, I archive my blog entries (with images and comments) each month.)

I was reminded of this issue once again recently when my 87-year-old uncle sent me a sixty-year-old handwritten letter. Here’s the story:

In 1947 my grandfather and grandmother drove to Vancouver, B.C. Grandpa was hospitalized in Spokane, however, and a gallstone removed, a serious operation in those days. My grandmother remained by his side, but never had a drivers license so could not drive them home. My uncle flew out to Spokane (imagine the state of the airline industry in 1947!) and drove Grandma back, leaving Grandpa to recuperate in hospital, returning by way of Kansas City where my parents and I (age 1-1/2) were then living. They picked up my mother and me, and Mother shared some of the driving chores back to their hometown in Michigan. (Grandpa later flew back to Detroit, where another uncle picked him up and took him home.)

It was from her childhood home in Ovid, Michigan, that Mother penned (literally) this letter, which I’ve reproduced at right. Click the image to see the full size. Even today I recognize Mother’s distinctive penmanship. The letter has modest interest as a family relic, but it is emblematic of what we are losing. No one writes letters like this any more. Mother wrote hundreds to both her parents between going to college in 1927 and their deaths in the mid-70s. (Even now and even with her memory problems, I still receive an occasional letter written in this same hand.)

Not even I write like this, with one exception. I sometimes will write a personal note to a model thanking her for a session. When I am in one of my more reflective moods, I think with considerable pleasure of some future child or grandchild stumbling across those notes and filling in a little bit more of the mystery that is “mother” or “grandma.” Try that with texting from your cellphone!

(Oh, yes, and something that I share with my mother: I only write these notes with a fountain pen. I hate ballpoints and felt-tips — they just don’t have the right “feel” and they definitely look ugly, both in the hand and on the page.)

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