Ed Wargin

The Collection Provenance

(n)  the beginning of something's existence; something's origin,  a record of ownership of a work of art used as a guide to authenticity or quality.


Decades ago, when Ed Wargin began his work photographing the Great Lakes as one singular narrative, it was on film. Over time, as photography shifted from film to digital mediums, he maintained his vision to complete the project entirely on film, an important agent in the narrative. 


Est. 1987




The Collection Timeline

The American and Canadian Great Lakes Coastal Districts

from Photographer Ed Wargin

Fine Art Narrative Film Photographs from the American and Canadian Great Lakes Coastal Districts thirty years 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.



Photographer Ed Wargin had always referred to the clear, unsalted waters of his home shores as the fresh coast, which is why he established his project by using that name for his working title. He later formally established The Fresh Coast Project as a way to bind and communicate his ideal goal of photographing the Great Lakes narrative on photographic film. Though film being displaced by digital mediums was not even a thought during the early years of the project, his endeavor to artfully photograph the whole of the Great Lakes on film was his original goal as a young photographer. 



Working professionally but striving to hone his craft, Ed Wargin wanted to pursue how to better understand and work in natural light. In the 1980s, the desert southwest was noted for its application of "sweetlight" in large-scale photographic commercial productions, most of them for the automotive industry. Understanding this, he moved to the desert southwest and worked with some of the world's best photographers while learning about the effects of natural light upon the landscape and sheet metal. During this time, he returned to the Great Lakes every year to continue shooting his Fresh Coast Project. After this investment in the southwestern states, he permanently returned home to the Great Lakes region in 1992. 



As the Great Lakes Film Collection grew during this time, the mid 1990s saw the Fresh Coast Project and Film Collection's first use in commerce as film from the collection began to sell as limited edition prints, and later, in the development and evolution of Ed Wargin's artistic books about the Great Lakes region, along with numerous editorial essays involving the Fresh Coast aesthetic.



During these years, the emergence of digital mediums diminished the supply of professional film stock and processing services for film photographers, which added a new urgency to Wargin's work. During this time, The Fresh Coast Project began to coalesce its message as: "a decades long artistic endeavor to capture the larger narrative of the Great Lakes on film prior to the possible cessation of professional film as an everyday commodity."

With growing support, Ed Wargin's work on the Great Lakes included traveling the coastal districts and photographing them on film, archiving the film, speaking on behalf of the project at numerous events, teaching emerging photographers, all the while continuing to organize the film collection which included developing studio best practices for individual film file preparation; scanning each plate for a) one publish-ready professional file, and 2) one corollary digital database marker file; adding reference information, cataloging each plate, archiving, and professionally storing each physical film plate and its subsequent digital counterparts. 


Today, The Great Lakes Film Collection is complete in its narrative, a career goal accomplished, and the arduous process of scanning, organizing, preserving and notating the film plates nearly complete. Due to the vast amount of photographs, the scanning and database portion of the task has taken several years to accomplish. Now nearly complete, the next life of this unique film plate collection will soon be determined. 



Ed describes himself as a photographer.
He is that – an award-winning, first-class one – but he is more. 
He sees beneath surfaces and into depths. He is a poet, scientist, and painter all at once.
— Author David Dempsey

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