Two Harbors photographer Christian Dalbec received unanimous approval from the Two Harbors City Council on Oct. 14 when he requested a special use permit to turn his garage into a photo studio.
Dalbec has lived around Two Harbors most of his life and bought his house on South Avenue shortly after high school graduation. For years, he used the garage as most do: for storage for various tools and gear. A few years into his photography venture, he started thinking about turning the garage into a place to sell his work.
"It was going to be like a garage sale thing. I’d open the door, have a garage sale sign, not even a divider," Dalbec said.
But much like his photography career, things snowballed once he began working on the project. He turned the large entry door into a wall, started painting the interior walls and installed four windows to ensure a striking view of the breakwall.
"At first I was just monkeying in the garage, but soon I started to think, you know, it's kind of a perfect spot as people drive past on their way to and from the breakwall," Dalbec said.
Dalbec opened his new studio during the Lake Superior 20/20 Art and Studio Tour in September. The weekend went well and it encouraged him to officially open for business.
However, know that the studio mostly open for appointments. He'll take a few walk-ins off the street, but Dalbec doesn't plan to keep very regular hours.
He tends to be on the move, gathering more shots of his favorite subject: Lake Superior. In fact, it was the lake that got Dalbec into photography back in 2012.
Dalbec picked up a camera after he quit drinking. Due to a DUI conviction, he wasn't able to drive, so he started walking around Two Harbors to practice snapping shots around the lake.
"I just needed something to keep my mind busy," Dalbec said. "I started a Facebook page for fun, mostly."
Within a year, Dalbec had a following of over 700 people. Today, his page has over 24,000 fans. He pins most of his success on his development of a new technique: taking photos from the water.
"At first,I brushed the idea off since I know water gear can be expensive," Dalbec said. "But after trying out some shots with a GoPro, I knew I needed to keep going. I loved the view from the lake looking back at the shoreline. It's like the lake is looking at you instead of years of you looking at the lake."
Since 2015, Dalbec has traveled to various national parks and coastlines to take water and wave photos. But even when he's traveling, he can't help but compare places to Lake Superior.
"I swam on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton Park and it's just as cold as Lake Superior," Dalbec said. "But I got some different shots out there."