March 24, 2013
by JEANINE BLACK
Even if we were not die-hard viewers of “The Deadliest Catch,” “Bering Sea Gold,” or “Ice Road Truckers,” those of us who attended Thursday evening’s free artist talk left the Minnesota Marine Art Museum with an appreciation for the demands and dangers of filming such real-life adventures. Attendees also got a glimpse into the life of Cameron Glendenning, the man behind the camera, and learned about two of his personal passions: his family and his still photography.
Best known as a 3-time Emmy Award-winning cinematographer, Glendenning has extensive experience as a producer and his photography has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time and Rolling Stone.
Now through May 23, 2013 the MMAM is hosting Cameron Glendenning’s first major U.S. solo exhibition, which features images from his global travels. The photographs on display highlight Glendenning’s ability to convey dramatic and inspiring stories through photographs, some digital and others taken with film cameras.
Glendenning began his talk by explaining his serendipitous connection to the museum. Through an online purchase of a vintage tool box, Glendenning got to know curator Jon Swanson, who suggested an exhibit of his masterful photographic images at the Marine Art Museum. Although Glendenning works collaboratively on many projects with great success, he is always looking for the opportunity to have time alone for his own photography.
His photographs range from portraits of members of the crews and groups with whom he has worked, to intimate shots of his family; from breathtaking photographs of fishing vessels in rough seas, to an image of the gnarled hands of a gold miner in Alaska. While those of us in the audience enjoyed projected images of his photographs, representing many aspects of his varied career, travels, and family life, Glendenning shared the stories behind the pictures. Through images, he introduced us to crab fishermen, gold miners, truck drivers, pilots, boat captains, professional colleagues, his wife, son, and daughter.
We learned even more when Glendenning responded to questions from the audience. How does he choose the fishing boats for “The Deadliest Catch?” First of all, he asks himself, “Is that boat safe enough that we’re not going to die on it?” Because the show chronicles real families who make their living catching crabs, he also seeks out colorful characters. A woman sitting behind me asked whether fishermen, like farmers, have fishing in their blood and pass that along from generation to generation. Glendenning said that is, indeed, the case and used as an example the Norwegian families of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. His response to a question of how he keeps his equipment dry elicited laughter. No, he does not use expensive equipment; after trying various methods, he now uses zip lock bags and duct tape. Also, he uses paper towels to dry his lenses.
My two favorite photographs are of Glendenning’s wife, Cynthia, in a survival suit, which she had donned in less than the required 60 seconds, and an aerial photo of Nome, Alaska, that Glendenning took with a camera he held out the window of a helicopter, rather than using the multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art, gyro-stabilized camera mounted on the ‘copter.
Glendenning is back at the museum on Saturday, March 23, from 10 to 11 a.m. for free Family Storytelling program. Along with Education Curator Heather Casper, he will read and tell stories about life on the high seas and traveling to faraway places. Space is limited, so call 507-474-6626 to sign up. If you miss the opportunity to meet Glendenning, do not miss this unique exhibit. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.