Farm and beach; Ludington senior photography


Olivia will be a senior at Lowell High School beginning this week! Here are some of the photographs from her recent senior photo session in the Ludington and Mason County area. We are very blessed that seniors will travel long distances to have us create these cherished memories.

A ride on the S.S. Badger; Ludington photography

One of the things I absolutely love about living in the Ludington area is our carferry and railroad heritage.

Riding the Badger is a summer ritual for me. Earlier this week I took a trip across the big lake with my friend and photographer mentor Ron Muszynski. It’s kind of a tradition for us to take a couple days and explore either Wisconsin or northern Michigan sometime during the summer. The trips usually involve lots of picture taking, deep conversation, good food and a little geocaching.

It seems everybody on board the Badger has a story to tell. They are typically on the ship on some sort of an adventure or for work.

One of the most unique adventurers was Nigel Blandford from Manchester, England. Nigel is taking the summer off of work to bicycle the northern United States. His route is from New York City to San Francisco.

He started his trip on May 20 and plans to be done on Sept. 2.

His trek across Michigan was along the Pere Marquette Trail, basically U.S. 10, ending in Ludington. “It was absolutely gorgeous,” he said about his trip so far. “The hospitality of the American people has been just wonderful. If I find myself without a place to stay, people will just put me up for the night.”

He said he found Michigan to be beautiful. “It started out flat on the east side and then the further west I started seeing nice lakes and forests. The people in the United Kingdom could learn a lot about small towns in America. Almost every small town has a library, a post office and a general store. It’s really nice.”

Nigel is employed by Mersey Forest ( and his employer was generous enough to let him take a sabbatical for the summer, he said.

To follow more of Nigel’s adventures, check him out on at

Besides Nigel, I talked to Dave and Carrie Wood of Custer Township. They, their four children and Carrie’s mother, were on their way to visit family in Minnesota. It was the first time the kids had riden the Badger and they were making the most of it.

Marc and Linda Anderson of Pere Marquette Township were taking the motorcycle across to visit their son in northern Illinois. After that they planned on heading up to northern Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula and then back down to home.

Aaron Pugh of Hamlin Township was on his way to Appleton, Wis. on business. Aaron installs insulated blinds and has accounts at several motels in the Appleton and Green Bay area. He uses the Badger for transportation because it’s a convenient way to travel across the lake, he said.

Ron and I also talked with Mark and Marsha Wynja of Melvin, Iowa. They and their 14-year-old triplets had been in Ludington for a graduation open house.

Many years ago Marsha and Marie Pleiness of Ludington became friends during a 4-H exchange trip. Because of the S.S. Badger, it’s only an 8 hour drive (and 3.5 hour ferry ride) for Marsha to visit her childhood friend.

Brenda Schuchardt of Hart was traveling with her 10-year-old son Christopher. They were on their way to visit Brenda’s mother-in-law in northwestern Wisconsin.

“We usually take the Badger over a couple times a summer,” Brenda said. “It’s fun and a great way to travel.”

The trip also included several Ford Model A’s and their drivers who were on their way to a show in Oshkosh, Wis.

The Badger is more than just part of the Ludington scenery. It is part of the lifeblood of our community. It is an extension of U.S. 10 and takes travelers to destinations far and wide. It not only carries cars, motorcycles and bicycles, it also carries semi trucks with freight.

When we were returning on the early Wednesday morning departure, I counted eight semi-trucks coming off the ship in Manitowoc. Then, five semis, including three carrying long wind-turbine parts (destined for Canada) were loaded.

The Badger is also responsible for dozens of jobs and millions of dollars in our community. Lake Michigan Carferry, the ship’s parent company, does business locally with printers, food service, contractors and many other services. The passengers stop at our restaurants and in our stores.

In a day and age when everybody wants to get some place faster, it’s nice to sit back on board a historic vessel and relax. It’s nice to know that by riding the ship we are helping the Ludington tradition of carferry service survive.

– Rob


Ludington photography



Mickey Matson movie premiere in Grand Rapids


We had the privilege of being VIP guests of director Harold Cronk and Executive Producer Edgar Struble last Thursday during the premiere of the motion picture “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy.” The red carpet event was held at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids. The movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mason and Manistee counties.

I remember sitting at Redolencia Coffee Shop in Ludington last spring when Cronk approached me and pitched his idea for the film. As an artist, he starts his ideas by drawing them out. He talked about the adventure of Mickey Matson and his friend Sully as they find clues that help them find pieces of a machine that will make silver out of anything. As with all great film, the movie has a nemesis, played by Dr. Rick Plummer, director of West Shore Community College’s cultural and performing arts. Rick is among other local actors who do an amazing job in the film.

The stars of the film are 15-year-old Derek Brandon from Middleville, Michigan and 14-year-old Francesca DeRosa of California. Judging from their outstanding acting in this film, these two kids have great futures ahead of them. The “big” names in the film were Christopher Lloyd and Ernie Hudson. Christopher Lloyd is best known as “Doc” from the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Ernie Hudson, a Benton Harbor native, is best known in his role in the “Ghostbusters” films.

I spent time on the filming locations in both Manistee and Ludington and also photographed the cast and crew when they visited Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids last week. This is a first class operation which reflects the values of western Michigan. It is a family friendly movie with great cinematography, a good story and top notch acting.

For more photos, check out Alway Photography’s Facebook page. To read more about the movie, check out and

The movie is now playing at all Celebration Cinema sites in Grand Rapids. Please check it out!

– rob


A Marine’s life

This morning I had the privilege to photograph Lt. Col. Mike Harmon and his wife, Joy. Mike, 42, is a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps who just completed a one year deployment to Afghanistan. Mike and Joy wanted some portraits of themselves so they stopped into Alway Photography. I couldn’t resist interviewing Mike and Joy for about life in the Marines. Both Mike and Joy are truly American heroes, putting service to their country before everything else.


I’ve known Mike most of my life, pretty much since grade school. We graduated together at Mason County Central and grew up down the road from each other in northern Amber Township. After high school he attended Purdue University on a Reserve Officer Training Corp. (ROTC) scholarship to the Marines. 

For more of Mike’s story, go to 

– rob




Making movie magic, Mickey Matson; Manistee photography

As many of you are aware, I am not only a photographer but I am also a writer. Most of my stories are human interest stories that appear in the Ludington Daily News. They are typically stories of local people. I love these types of stories.

One of my very first interviews back in 1989 — when I was a stringer for the Daily News — was of Edgar Struble. Edgar is from Scottville and at that time he was Kenny Rogers’ music director. What I admired about Edgar then and now, is that he never forgot where he came from. During that time he owned several buildings in Scottville and Ludington and he returned frequently to visit his father. Even with his father gone, Edgar still returns to Mason County often. In California, where he now lives and works, he writes and produces music. Often, he will hire musicians who also have Mason County roots, including Luke Rangel (a producer) or drummer Brian Burwell. When he comes home in the summer, he puts on free concerts in Scottville and Ludington featuring several local musicians.

Another person who I admire is Harold David Cronk. Cronk grew up in Scottville and majored in art in college, earning an education certificate. But, the teaching gig wasn’t his thing. He wanted to create movies. So, he and his wife, Amy, moved out to California. After-all, that’s what you have to do if you want to make movies, right? Wrong. After several years there, the Cronks made their way back to Mason County and Dave and a business partner opened 10 West Studios in Manistee (reference to U.S. 10 highway that runs west to east through the heart of Mason County). It hasn’t been easy, but 10 West has produced a few films in this area and is committed to filming more.

The last few days I have had the privilege to observe, photograph and write about the filming of 10 West’s latest production, “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy.” This movie is being exclusively filmed in Mason and Manistee counties. Once again, Edgar has seen something in a “local boy” and has invested in the film, giving him the title of Executive Producer. A wise investment, indeed.

As a writer, I need a quiet, neutral place to sit and create. For me, that place is often Redolencia Coffee in Ludington. It is also one of Cronk’s creative outlets. This past spring he pitched the movie idea to me over a Diet Coke and latte (I had the latte, can’t stand Diet Coke). It is a great story. I won’t give too much away, but pretty much imagine “National Treasure” meets “The Goonies.”

The crew on the set, most whom are basically freelance or contracted, are saying this movie is going to be the big time for 10 West. I got to see a trailer today and I have to agree.

Good job guys! I can’t speak for everyone but I am proud of our Scottville boys.

– rob


undefined Above, shooting on Manistee Fifth Avenue beach. Below, Cronk, left, talks with Struble during filming in Manistee.