Todd Reed’s new book celebrates half century of photography.

June 11, 2021

Todd Reed’s new book celebrates half century of photography.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — For 50 years Todd Reed has captured the beauty of Michigan through his photographs. That half century is being offered in a coffee style, limited edition book, “Todd Reed: 50 Years Seeing Michigan Through a Lens” that is available at the Todd and Brad Reed Photography gallery, 114 W. Ludington Ave., beginning today.

The 383 page book is a journey through a career that began in 1970. It is a celebration of this region of northwest Michigan that Todd has called home his entire life, along with photographs beyond as well. 

Though Todd is known as one of this area’s most accomplished and most talented photographers, his journey into photography began with an interest in writing. 

“My English teacher, Harry Nuckolls, saw a lot of potential in my writing and was very influential in inspiring me to pursue a writing career,” Todd says. After graduating from Ludington High School in 1967, Todd enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, graduating with an associate degree. His original intention was to transfer to University of Michigan. 

“It was 1969 and things were pretty lively in America, especially on college campuses. I visited the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, for the first time, and it took this small town boy about 15 minutes to realize that it wasn’t for me. My dad had attended Michigan State, and that just felt more like home.” 

Todd started attending Michigan State University, still intending on majoring in English. “I had a college friend whose brother had just graduated with an English degree and he was working for a grocery store. I thought, ‘boy something is just wrong with that picture’ so I switched my major to journalism, which was a very very good move.”

Todd accepted a summer internship at the Ludington Daily News. The following spring, two days before graduation, he received a phone call from Paul Peterson, managing editor of the newspaper, offering him a job. 

“One of the reporters had become ill. Paul wanted me to start that day. I told him I was graduating that weekend but I could start Monday. I spent 23 years at the Daily News.” 

Todd had only taken one photography class in college. He started at the LDN as a staff writer. Then, staff photographer Russ Miller sent him on some photo assignments. “He gave me the old photographer’s adage, ‘F/8 and be there,’ which means set your camera to it’s middle-of-road aperture setting in hopes that the person in the darkroom will be able to salvage what you got.” 

Todd was hooked on photography. His career at the newspaper eventually took him to becoming the assistant managing editor, working beside Peterson (who recently passed away on Dec. 5, 2020 at the age of 87). Eventually, he stepped into the chief photographer position after Miller left. 

Todd left the newspaper in 1994 to pursue a career of full-time outdoor photographer. 

“I had entered my first West Shore Art League art fair in 1975,” Todd says. “As a photojournalist, you see a lot of the good in people and you see a lot of the bad in people and the world around us. I really enjoyed the good. Capturing those special, National Geographic-type moments. It was just time to move into a different path.”

In 1998, Todd’s image “God’s Light,” which shows a lightning bolt hitting near the Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse, won third place overall in the Nikon International Photography Contest. 

During that time, Todd used his homes as his gallery space. Initially on Ferry Street and then on Cambridge Street. 

“The photographs were taking over our home and we needed to have a storefront,” he said. “For many years, I had built a special relationship with Jim and Shirley Goulet, who owned Ludington Photo Center in downtown Ludington. I sent all my slide film through them and they always treated me right. They offered to let me rent space in the front of the store at 114 W. Ludington Ave., which is where the gallery continues to this day.” 

In 2004, Todd was joined by Brad and the business became known as Todd & Brad Reed Photography. The Goulets have since passed away and now the gallery occupies both 114 W. Ludington Ave. and 112 W. Ludington Ave. The business also includes a third photographer, Rachel Gaudette, who also serves as general manager of the gallery. 

Todd’s love of the Great Lakes was enriched by 33 years of service in the Coast Guard Reserve. In 1988, the U.S. Coast Guard honored him as top “Outstanding Enlisted Reservist” in the nation.

The North American Nature Photography Association has featured both Todd and Brad’s images. Many magazines, including Traverse Blue, Bay Life, and LAKE, have also featured the Reeds’ photographs and galleries in their publications. The Reeds had the cover image and the main feature story in Outdoor Photographer magazine in October of 2016, which is one of the world’s most popular photography magazines.

Todd and Brad have a simple approach to photography. They choose subjects that touch them in emotional ways, and strive to convey their emotions through the photographs they make. They are both known for saying that good photography is all about feeling. To see and appreciate a scene in the natural world is one thing; the artists’ challenge is to capture visually the emotions of that scene and that moment. It is simply a matter of being present at those rare moments and letting the heart guide the composition.

In 2000, Todd released his first book, “Ludington Point to Point,” which covered the waterways and countryside between Big Sable Point and Little Sable Point. In 2005, Todd and Brad collaborated and released their first joint book, “Lake Michigan Point to Point,” a visual journey of the waters and shores of the same region. Several books then followed. 

“Todd Reed: 50 Years Seeing Michigan Through a Lens” can be purchased for $120 at the gallery, the website, www.toddandbradreedphotography.com or by calling 231-843-0777. The first printing only consists of 3,000 copies with the first 120 books being hand-signed by Todd. 

In addition, Todd and Brad are also offering a limited edition package which includes the book, a limited edition, signed and numbered print, a 20 ounce Yeti tumbler and a Christmas ornament. The package can be purchased for $1,800 with the first 30 being sold at $1,100; packages 31-60 at $1,175; packages 61-90 at $1,250; packages 91-120 at $1,325. These come with free shipping as well. Please note, that the first groupings may already be sold out.

Go to www.toddandbradreed.com for more details. 

From left: Brad, Todd, and Ryan Reed, Rob, 2004

Editor’s Note: I have had the honor of knowing Todd since I signed up for a beginning photography class at West Shore Community College in the fall of 1988.  As a kid I had always had an interest in journalism and photography. Todd taught me how to take those interests to another level and helped launch my career. In January of 1989, Todd encouraged me to meet with Paul Peterson, managing editor of the Ludington Daily News, to talk about writing some freelance articles about the Scottville centennial celebration scheduled for that year. Eventually I took on more and more assignments and a freelance gig turned into a part-time job. In 1994, Todd made the decision to leave the newspaper to pursue his photography career. I was his choice to replace him as chief photography of the newspaper. Through the years, our mentor/protege relationship quickly evolved into friendship and family. I am forever grateful for this as those of us who work in careers like journalism and photography don’t really view those things as jobs as much as a calling and a lifestyle. 

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals who support our service. Click on the PayPal donation button located on the top right of our website. 

This story is copyrighted © 2021, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent. Photographs copyrighted © 2021 by Todd and Brad Reed Photography. Used with permission. 

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