David Schauer – Harbor Photographer

IN FOCUS: David Schauer

In Focus: David Schauer

This information was published in the Duluth Seaway Port Authority (North Star Port Magazine)

One of the series of profiles about the gifted photographers whose images bring the working waterfront to life. 

How did you first get into photography, specifically the shipping scene?

I grew up in Duluth’s East Hillside, and our house had a large picture window that overlooked Lake Superior. As a young boy, I would sit and watch various vessels come and go from the Duluth-Superior harbor. Over time I was able to easily identify many lakers by their shape, including some of my favorites like the Edward L. Ryerson, Cliffs Victory and Incan Superior. My father, Rudy Schauer, taught me how to use his Nikon 35mm camera, and I was hooked. My first photograph of a boat was made during April 1978 as the tug Edna G steamed up at its dock in Two Harbors with the Arthur M. Anderson moored behind it. 

What draws you to shipping and the working waterfront?

I have always had an interest in the shipping industry and vessels that call on the port, both from a historical and current perspective. 

A natural extension of that interest is photographing ships and the docks that populate the harbor. More than just photographing boats, I like to understand what they are transporting plus the economic forces that are behind such cargo moves. In addition to the waterborne aspect of the port, I also have a strong interest in railroads and focus a fair amount of my free time and photography toward that mode of transportation.

How would you describe your approach to photography?

Given my passion for “rail and sail” subjects, I like photographing ships and trains in the same frame when possible. This can be done fairly easily around the Twin Ports, where railroads are in close proximity to dock facilities. In terms of lighting, I really enjoy photography in the “blue hour” that happens roughly an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset when there is still reasonable ambient light and colors are rich.   

What aspects of your work or life would you like to share?

What I currently enjoy most is teaching my 12-year-old son Gus the art of ship photography. Gus absolutely loves going out and photographing ships, especially salties. I’m truly blessed to spend such quality father-son time with him. His favorite vantage point is the canal where he uses a small video camera to record ships and their horn salutes. He also has become very good at photographing boats out of the back window of our van as I drive across the Blatnik Bridge. He was thrilled to have one of his images taken from the van on the bridge grace the cover of the Fall 2018 North Star Port magazine. 

You can view more of David’s work on his Facebook Page.