MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lake Superior sees thousands of visitors each year, and most of them come away with a picture or two.
But a Two Harbors man is taking Lake Superior photography to a whole new level.
Instead of shooting from the shoreline, Christian Dalbec submerges himself in the lake, and it doesn’t matter if it’s January or July.
“This is eye-opening once you can see it. This is the purest form of natural therapy [laughs]!” Dalbec said.
Even though he grew up on the North Shore, Christian never really saw Lake Superior, at least, not like he does today.
“The scenery, I don’t know, it all just comes together. Any time of day it’s just beautiful here,” Dalbec said.
He might know that better than anyone. For much of his life, Dalbec was an alcoholic. After several DUIs, rock bottom came about 10 years ago.
“Luckily I never hurt anybody or myself on the highway,” he said. “I got that last DUI and it was an eye-opener. I got another half of my life, I hope. I want to see what it’s like without being pulled down every day.”
Instead of being pulled down, he submerged — into the depths of Lake Superior.
Photography became Dalbec’s treatment, but not even he could have anticipated just how clearly life would come into focus.
“It’s more like Lake Superior is looking at you. That’s the way I want the image to be viewed almost,” he said.
Any time of day, any time of year, Dalbec will put on one of seven different wet suits, grab his cameras and capture once-in-a-lifetime images. As long as the water is open, he’s in. The weather can do whatever it wants.
“Just on the way up here today, we were talking that it seemed like we had all four seasons going on from Two Harbors to Split Rock. Snow, raining, sunshine and wind,” he said.
By braving the elements, he’s been there for picture-perfect sunrises and sunsets. And he’s captured new views of the Split Rock Lighthouse and the Northern Lights. Then there’s his wave photography.
“I have lots of favorite ones. I usually have favorite waves, because you are just never going to see that same thing ever again,” said his wife, Kara Dalbec.
She believes there are not enough adjectives to describe the imagery. The couple met two years ago, and it wasn’t long before she found out why Dalbec does what he does.
“How he turned his life around is so beautiful. I always say I respected him before I fell in love with him,” Kara Dalbec said.
Instead of holding a drink, he’s now holding a camera. Instead of staring at bottles, he’s staring at a lighthouse. The addiction to photography now far outweighs the addiction to alcohol. And for Dalbec, it’s like seeing the world with a new set of eyes.
“I thank God every day that this is where this has landed. And I don’t ever feel like I’m going back down that road again,” he said. “It just feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and I love it.”
Dalbec’s photography can be seen at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais and Duluth, and on his website, Christian Dalbec Photography.