MARQUETTE - Upper Peninsula native Tom Buchkoe may not seem to have much in common with Sharon Matulewicz, a Yooper transplant from Tupelo, Miss. at first glance, but they probably would have plenty to talk about over coffee. It's not unusual for either of them to stay up past 2 a.m. to photograph the Northern Lights, or go to great lengths just to capture one perfect frame of wildlife. They are both outdoor photographers, and lovers of the U.P.
"I've been shooting since I was a kid." said Buchkoe, a professional photographer. "I started with an old Brownie camera of my parents' when I was 10."
He bought his first 35mm film camera when he was 13, and would take it around the U.P. with him, as well as on family trips.
Sharon Matulewicz poses for a photo. (Photo by Sharon Matulewicz)
"I've always had a camera on me," said Matulewicz, a hobby photographer who started pursuing her love of photography when she moved to Marquette seven years ago.
Since her husband bought her a new digital camera for her birthday, the camera hasn't left her side.
Buchkoe is currently a freelance photographer, with numerous appearances in Lake Superior Magazine, including the current August/September issue, which includes a story and spread of eight photographs, including one capturing a true cloud covering the Lake of the Clouds.
"I still enjoy the personal challenge to capture the ultimate photograph," he said.
You may have also seen his work in Alaska Magazine, Michigan Out of Doors, Michigan History and Midwest Living.
He presently has prints in numerous local businesses including the Peter White Public Library gift shop, Michigan Fair, the Yooper Tourist Trap and Superior View.
The Internet has helped with getting his work out there too, said Buchkoe.
Matulewicz, a lover of nature and landscape photography, often has adventures searching for waterfalls or wildlife.
She tries to find a balance between work and passion, Matulewicz said.
"There's something in our culture that says we can't do what we love," she added.
Matulewicz, who sells prints and cards downtown at Mary's Closet, also finds the Internet to be of help. She recently started a Facebook page for her business, sharon.elizabeth.photography, and found it was a quick and easy step to share her photos with others.
"This day and age, it's the best way to reach people," said Matulewicz.
Being self-taught, she finds plenty of photography forums online to learn new skills.
Although Buchkoe has decades of professional photography under his belt, he always continues learning as well.
"With outdoor photography, what you see is what you get," said Buchkoe. "You have to capture what's there, but also pick the right time of day, and get the lighting right."
"With wildlife, it's almost being at the right place at the right time," he added.
"I like that I can always get out and see things differently," said Matulewicz, "with different light, during different times of day."
"I like to find beauty in unexpected things," she added.
In the coming month, Buchkoe will be featured in an exhibit Sept. 24 through Nov. 5 at the Waterfront Gallery in Two Harbors, Minn. called One Special Place. His photo, "Sunrise Monolith," featuring the Soo Line ore dock with the sunrise peeking through, will be hung alongside 21 other professional fine art photographer photos of their one favorite place on Lake Superior.
Matulewicz's photo, "Cannon Fire in the Harbor," is a finalist in Detroit News' "Celebrate Michigan" photo contest. The winners will be announced Thursday, Sept. 22.
Although Matulewicz and Buchkoe both agree that you should always have a camera with you, they also have one more belief in common.
Sometimes you just have to put the camera down and savor the moment through your own eyes.
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256.