Creating Community: Photographer Paul Rose

GARDEN — Paul Rose has been an artist and photographer for most of his life. He moved to the Upper Peninsula about 18 years ago, and he says that move gave him new creative opportunities and direction.

“I adapted to the narrative of the Upper Peninsula in my work,” says Rose. “So the work I do is really related to my surroundings.”

A painter and craftsman, Rose’s primary work is photography. He specializes in photos depicting objects, such as chairs and canoes, in nature. Many of his photographs are of a number of old boats on the water. He says that these types of photos tend to evoke strong emotions from those who see them.

“I find that when people do come to the U.P., they want to take something home with them that’s part of their experience up here,” says Rose. “The old boats I found, almost by accident, it’s a connection to their past lives. These boats are from the early 50s. So there are always stories about, ‘My grandfather had that,’ or ‘My dad took me fishing in a boat like that.’ It really becomes an emotional experience for them.”

Rose says that each image tells a story. He takes boats and chairs out to locations like the Hiawatha Forest or even the area around his home. He positions them in a way he feels will bring out emotion and works with the natural light to capture these unique photos.

The natural beauty of the U.P. inspires him in his work, and he believes it’s also bringing more and more people to this region.

“When I first came up here, this was a lot quieter of a place,” Rose says. “It’s become more active. I didn’t even realize the extent of what was up here in the U.P. I have yet to see it all. But the U.P. is an incredible place; there are so many places to go. And people come up for a week and think they can see the U.P., but it’s impossible. There’s just a certain beauty up here and so many hidden treasures.”

Working with light and seasons and natural settings to spark emotion is what it’s all about for Rose. He wants to share the beauty and emotion of the Upper Peninsula with everyone who sees his work.

“At first it was a complex thing; I didn’t understand how to do it or what to say,” Rose explains. “But as time went on, I realized my images are all about emotion. And a lot of my images don’t make the cut, because they have to have an emotional attachment. If I can capture an image and feel strongly about it, then I find other people do. You have to be able to express an emotion and capture that emotion–and it’s not easy to do.”

The Upper Peninsula has greatly influenced the way Rose works, and over time, he says it’s become intertwined with his own story.

“I’ve just adapted to the Upper Peninsula,” Rose says. “It took me a while, but I’ve learned this is my narrative. The Upper Peninsula is my narrative.”

Occasionally you might find Rose’s work in art shows or on display at an exhibit. In late 2019 he also received a Featured Artist Award at the Bonifas Art Center’s Northern Exposure Awards.

You can view more of Rose’s photography here.