Ed Wargin Photographic Collections presents:

The Great Lakes Film Collection

Established in 1987

Decades in development, this coveted Americana art collection of diapositive film plates from North American photographer Ed Wargin is resolute in its narrative of the American and Canadian Great Lakes Coastal Districts.


Artistic Significance of this Collection

The significance of this art collection of Great Lakes landscapes on diapositive (color reversal) films lies within the demanding, unsparing quests over a thirty year period that include rarely chronicled locations for hallmark notables and reflecting the greater Canadian and Americana value of the Great Lakes, such as Aldo Leopold's summer retreat along Lake Huron's Les Cheneaux Islands and the former private fishing camp of famed fly fisherman, internationally bestselling author and Michigan Supreme Court Justice, John Voelker aka Robert Traver. As a whole, The Great Lakes Film Collection tells the story of our Great Lakes experience, but as individual photographs, each film plate offers the visual preservation of one artist’s vision in photographing the Great Lakes region as a whole, void of the boundaries and divisions that have historically confined the way we see this treasured bi-national landscape.

The assemblage of this collection is the result of decades spent by one artist making film photographs of the Great Lakes during a time when the exodus from film to digital mediums was creating a cultural shift in photography. This film plate collection also includes the diligent organizational actions of curation and archival preservation best-practices, ultimately presenting a landmark fine art film plate collection of Great Lakes photographs. 

Now complete, the collection is acquisition-ready. 




The Great Lakes Film Collection is an artistic visual study of Great Lakes landscapes: rivers, streams, islands and archipelagoes; lighthouses, summer retreats, fish camps, taiga forests, shorelines, sand dunes, and remnant tall grass prairies, encompassing on film the magnificent coastal landscapes. 

The collection comprises: thousands of original film plates, professional high-resolution scans which are digital-ready files for photographic print making and publication purposes. Also included in this collection is a searchable database with separate wayfinding jpegs and external hard drive storage redundancy.



The Fresh Coast is how Ed Wargin referred to the area when he began this photographic work in the 1980s, and it quickly became the basis for the working title The Fresh Coast Project, the body of work now formally known as The Great Lakes Film Collection.

A native of the Great Lakes region, Ed Wargin felt discord wherein the Great Lakes, as a natural body of beauty and history, was conjoined with the popular term of that era, “Rust Belt.” Though Rust Belt referred to economic plights in a broad span, it did not seem to aptly resonate with his visual experience of the Great Lakes landscape, and so he began to use the term Fresh Coast to visually connect the Great Lakes with a more deserving, better-fitting moniker.

Over time, as The Fresh Coast Project gained international attention and was favorably noted among many in the Great Lakes region, Wargin's working title and moniker Fresh Coast became seated in popular regional culture as a way to speak in better terms about the Great Lakes. For more on the timeline, see Provenance.


I was in Tanzania for a conference to launch a new initiative linking the North American Great Lakes with the African Great Lakes - and the stunning photography in Fresh Coast helped create an instant connection for conference participants who have not yet had an opportunity to travel to our region.