Christian Dalbec: Superior Photographer


CHRISTIAN DALBEC: I go
out with the surfers, and I learned a lot about waves. Without the surfers,
I wouldn’t probably have gotten into the lake and
learned that much about waves. They helped me learn the
workings and what to know, because they’re dangerous. I like to be in something that’s
alive, like Lake Superior. It’s always moving,
always changing. [music playing] Most my life, I started
drinking alcohol early, and drank on and off
all the way until 2012. So that was about
around 30 years of spending time in the bars. So anyway, after all the years
of complications and getting in trouble, I finally just quit. I went to treatment. And this time, it stuck. I sold a dirt bike, and I
bought a starter camera. And then just taking
a few pictures and then starting that
photography page, all of a sudden, a couple of
friends were like, hey, I’d like a couple
of those prints. [music playing] [water rushing] I met Christian when he
came by my studio one day. And he had some questions
about photography. And then later on, he took a
course from me at the Arrowhead Regional Libraries, the
Two Harbors library. CHRISTIAN DALBEC: Pretty soon,
we became pretty good friends, you know? And then we’re going out
and shooting together. And now, we teach
workshops together. JOHN GREGOR: Yeah, I don’t
think of him as a student anymore at all. He’s a good friend, a very
good friend and a colleague. And I consult with him when I
have questions on stuff, too. So it’s a back and forth. It’s a give and take. And it’s real nice to have that. CHRISTIAN DALBEC:
Every once in a while, I get that certain shot
with the right weather and then buoyance. And people just can’t believe
that I’m in the lake, you know? They’re like, how
did you get this? [music playing] JOHN GREGOR: Well, I think he’s
doing something nobody else has really done here in
Lake Superior, you know? He’s not only photographing
around the lake, but he’s photographing
in the lake. And that’s a real
different perspective. I always take the
opportunity to get the dog. [dog barks] What? It’s OK. Nice. It’s a whole different
view when you’re looking back from the lake. I mean, you can do
it in a boat, but you wouldn’t want to be inside
eight-foot waves with a boat. It’s always changing. And it’ll never
be the same, ever. So I can take a
picture of something that no one else ever can. I think what I’m doing is
unique enough in the water. Not too many people, or
I haven’t seen anyone in the area, what I’m doing. Besides doing just
the photography for fun, or for photos for
landscape, I also fly a drone. I’m a licensed drone operator. We’re good to go. I was just going to go
and check around that– some views of the boat at dock. There. I just took a picture
from the back corner. There’s a view that you
can’t get unless you throw your camera really high. I like the straight-down shots. I’ve mainly just used it for
realty, and looking at boats, and just taking artful pictures. It’s not an easy profession
to make a living in. You’ve got to have passion,
and you’ve got to have drive. Christian has both those things. CHRISTIAN DALBEC:
There was a lot of times I could have
gave up, where things– seemed like things
were, you know, like it wasn’t
going to work out. And people don’t like
this kind of photography. Or there’s a lot of
times where I feel down, even now, where
it’s like, how come this picture isn’t so great? But you just pick yourself up. And the next picture is
in an hour, or tomorrow, or whenever, you know? I have a desire
to go make more– more magic out there. And the magic happens
in the lake, I mean, with the waves and the sun. And it’s all just happening
right in front of me. All I have to do
is press a button. [laughs]

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