Marine mission

Ken Newhams gives himself some credit for having talent, but he finds it difficult to call himself a professional. After all, he never expected to be a photographer.

Ken Newhams gives himself some credit for having talent, but he finds it difficult to call himself a professional. After all, he never expected to be a photographer.

But finally, the humble man who has brought the "Duluth Shipping News" to Duluth for the past eight years will have his first photography exhibition.

"He's a natural," said Laura Goewey, owner of Blue Lake Gallery in Canal Park, where Newhams' exhibit, entitled "Working in the Harbor," will be displayed beginning June 17.

The exhibit is part of a gallery hop in conjunction with the 17th annual meeting of Society for Conservation Biology to be held at the DECC June 28 through July 2. Several local galleries are participating.

On Saturday, June 28, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., the public along with the 1,200 conservation biologists in town are invited to visit the art galleries that have adopted the conference theme of land and water interactions.


Newhams' photographs naturally inhabit that theme, but the artist inside keeps emerging. He's discovered a new way to express his passion for Duluth's shipping culture through his other area of expertise, computers.

{IMG2}With his digital camera and computer software, Newhams takes his photographs of Duluth's shipping industry and turns them into collages.

"Taking pictures is the paint, Photoshop is the pallette," Newhams said.

Every aspect of the shipping industry and Duluth's harbor comes to life in the images.

One can almost feel the spray of the water, the speed of the boat in one collage of the Coast Guard taking new recruits out on the lake for storm training.

"I'm looking for something that's pretty, but I'm mostly looking to tell a story, to give information," Newhams said.

"To me it tells a story," he said about his collages. "I'm in the business to tell stories, and this really helps."

Newhams came to Duluth 11 years ago as a computer consultant. He was fascinated by the ships coming in and out of the harbor, but when he tried to find out when the next ship was arriving, no on knew. This lack of information led Newhams to create the "Duluth Shipping News."


It started with a Web site, then progressed to a daily, summer newsletter giving details about the ships and informing residents and tourists which ones were entering the harbor. Newhams also puts together a monthly publication year-round.

Every day Newhams is out and about taking pictures and gathering information about the ships coming to Duluth from all around the world. It's his life, he said, and he's proud to make a connection between residents and tourists to an often overlooked culture.

Newhams' work has taken him aboard many ships and even on a few excursions. Despite his shyness, getting to know the sailors and telling their stories is Newhams' favorite part of the job.

He discoverd his collages are popular among the ship workers. When the Fairload entered the harbor in May carrying heavy equipment cargo from Spain and Italy, Newhams went to work taking pictures of the cargo and crew. He also photographed the cargo being offloaded onto a Soo Line train to be transported to Alberta, Canada.

"That excites me more than anything, these ships coming from all over the world, bringing people here from all over the world," Newhams said. "It's fascinating Duluth makes that connection."

Newhams made two collages from the photos he took of the Fairload and showed them to the ship's crew and the railroad workers. Before Newhams had a chance to consider selling his work, he got orders for eight framed copies right away.

Instead, he gave the framed copies to the crew as gifts.

"I spend a lot of time taking pictures of people on the ships and talking to people. I like to talk about the people on the ships extensively," Newhams said.

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