Port Washington photographer Linda Anderson is so enamored of the beauty and character of traditional sailing ships that she spent the summer following a fleet of tall ships around the Great Lakes
Whether it’s the romance of the era or simply the beauty of the fully rigged ships under sail, Port Washington resident Linda Anderson is enthralled with tall ships.
So much so that she and her husband Neil have spent the entire summer following and photographing the tall ships participating in the American Sail Training Association’s United Great Lakes Race Challenge.
Five of the vessels, including the recreation of the Bounty featured in Disney’s 2007 popular movie “Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest,” were in Port last weekend for its Maritime Heritage Festival.
Although the festival is not part of the challenge, it conveniently fell on a weekend between events in Green Bay and Chicago. The ships are in Chicago this week, and that’s where Anderson is now.
Having the ships dock in Port was a highlight for Anderson, who loves the city almost as much as she loves boats and the water.
She and her family, which includes three daughters and a son, moved from Madison to Port Washington in 1991. They had visited the city often before then to fish on charter boats or off the pier.
Anderson was a mechanical engineer for 25 years. She worked for Allen-Bradley, Masterlock and Kohler Co. In 2000, she had heart surgery and quit the engineering profession for
another love, photography, which she said brings her peace.
Combining the attention to detail required in her engineering profession with her eye for beauty and appreciation of nature and all things nautical has been “the best decision of my life,” Anderson said.
She has loved taking pictures since her father gave her a Brownie camera when she was 8 years old, Anderson said.
While pursuing her engineering degree, she took photography classes in Madison.
“At a young age, I valued the treasure that photography could preserve forever the places, events and beauty that filled my life,” Anderson said.
“Taking pictures has always brought me joy. One single picture can rekindle an emotion from years past. It provides a constant source of reflection of the beauty that was once viewed.”
Anderson grew up in Sun Prairie and learned to swim when she was a toddler. She was a lifeguard and swim instructor throughout high school and college. Her father was a recreational sailor and often took her sailing on friends’ boats.
“He had four daughters, and I was taught early on you can be anything you want to be,” Anderson said.
“I love sailing and being on the water. It’s a passion.”
Moving to Port Washington, she said, enhanced her love for nautical photography.
She and her husband travel extensively. Wherever she goes, she has a camera with her. She captures lighthouses, sailing vessels, tall ships, marinas and quaint harbor towns during all
seasons, amid storms and calm seas.
In 2004, she started Anderson Photo Works and sells her images at festivals throughout the United States.
This year, Anderson cancelled all other festivals to concentrate on the tall ship challenge and related festivals.
The challenge started June 30 on Lake Erie in Toronto, then sailed to Cleveland. From there, ships went to Bay City, Mich., on Lake Huron, stopped in Duluth, Minn., on Lake Superior,
then sailed into Lake Michigan for Green Bay and Chicago events.
Anderson rides on the press boat which weaves in between the vessels during the traditional parade of ships, jostling with other photographers for space to aim her lens.
Her photographs are used by ASTA, the Bounty and other ships for promotional materials.
Even if she didn’t sell her pictures, Anderson said, she would photograph the tall ships that hearken back to another era. She researches the history of each ship and tries to capture its personality.
“I photograph them for myself,” Anderson said. “The fact that others enjoy them is a bonus to me. I would be doing this even if I didn’t sell them.”
Anderson is a strong promoter of Port and encourages owners of tall ships to visit the city and participate in the Maritime Heritage Festival, which she considers one of the best.
It’s the only tall ship festival on the Great Lakes that doesn’t charge admission to the festival grounds, Anderson said.
“I think that’s important because the harbor belongs to the people,” she said. “You don’t want to keep them from enjoying it.”
Anderson has sailed on most of the tall ships and been invited to join the crew, but each time she had another commitment that interfered. Maybe someday, she said.
Her favorite place, she said, is behind the camera whether on land or sea.
Photo by Sam Arendt