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Flattail Furs | Raising Foxes in Michigan

It's always a bit ridiculous how these documentaries end up happening. I first caught wind of Flattail Furs from my awesome photographer friend, Bethany Fritz of Maypole Studios. I was telling her about the documentaries I had been up to, and all of the sudden she mentions knowing a great couple who raise foxes on a small island in Michigan. Of course I made her tell me every detail. As soon as I had some free time I called up the Flattail Furs team, Mark and Laura. I was shocked, they were completely open to letting me, a total stranger, come on up and photograph every aspect of their life for a few days!

It was about an 8 hour drive and then a 20ish minute plane ride to get over to Beaver Island, and as soon as I landed Mark and Laura were leaning up against their car waiting for me. They immediately started showing me around the island, and telling me all about their time living up on their appropriately named farm "Skully Acres". Mark built the entire place, not just the barn, or the fence but absolutely everything up there house included. 

What's even more interesting then the farm itself is Mark and Laura's story. Mark actually met Laura for the first time when she was working on the island for a summer in College. Well they were almost inseparable that entire summer. But they had to say goodbye when Laura needed to go back to school. Fast forward over a decade and Laura was back on the island to run a marathon, and they just happened to bump into each other. Immediately they went back to their old ways. A short while later Laura left Chicago and moved up to the farm on Beaver Island. 

Now Mark and Laura make their living from their Etsy shop, and a brick and mortar store that they run during the tourist months. They make everything by hand, from the fox fur hats, gloves, beer cozies, you name it. Not only is it all hand made, but nearly everything available in the story is from animals they raised, or caught in the wild themselves.

Check out the whole story! 

Saving The Great Lakes

I contacted Susie Q Fish Market in Two Rivers, WI with a vague idea. I wanted to photograph one of the last commercial fishing operation left on The Great Lakes. At first they needed to make sure I knew what this meant. Fishing Lake Michigan, or The Great Lakes in general is not for everyone. It's long hours, hard work, big waves, and very dangerous. Combine all of that with some of the coldest temperatures on record. I'm sure you'll all remember the Polar Vortex that hit us in January, well it turns out that to catch Chubbs(one of the remaining options for commercial fishing) you need to go out at the coldest time of year. Once they knew I wasn't going away that easy then said "Come on up!". The next thing I knew I was staying in a little hotel outside of Two Rivers, it was 2:00am and I was so excited to get out onto the boat that I couldn't sleep. I had to be out the door at about 4:00am to be there at the start of the day. As soon I pulled up I realized this was not going to be an easy day.

That's when I met Dale. It turns out Susie Q wasn't actually going out for commercial fishing. They had teamed up with The Department of Fish and Wildlife to try and revive a species extinct from Lake Ontario. Chubb's had been choked out of their natural habitat in many areas by invasive species and Lake Michigan is one of the best and last places to still catch them. Dale and his team of biologists and ecologists have a very important goal for the day. They need to catch and harvest as many eggs and sperm as possible to repopulate Lake Ontario. I just happened to be there at the right time to capture it all.

As it turns out, I'm not the only one interested in this story either. Since that day I have been contacted by the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources to team up on the documentary. So while we work out all of those details I can't share the entire project, but I'm happy to share these images from the day.

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