Frank J. Hutton
Hand Made Images
Artist's Statement

It’s been said that if a structure can’t survive on the land, then it didn’t deserve to be there to begin with. Held to that measure, there’d stand only pyramids, Anasazi dwellings and the occasional mysterious circle of stones.

Though indomitable and intent to strike our mark upon the sky, we’re a short-lived, transient people. We build things to suit us. When our tasks are finished or once we ourselves are done, our structures fall to faint echo upon an everlasting land. Before the cultural landscape and after it, there is the land.
Within these galleries, you’ll find photographs of places that echo with the story of poor folk. No one builds pyramids to them. Theirs' is a story already in pieces, scattered across a rich, hard place.

Around Lake Superior is an ancient land awash with remnants left by waves of people shrugged off like so many seasonal pests. A land indifferent even to monuments of Capital and Industry, much less modest structures meant only to serve a hard-working people for just so long as they could survive such indifference. A land that once we leave it eagerly reclaims its own.

And to leave no trace of us behind.

13”x19” paper -- $200 ea.

19”x24” paper -- $375 ea.

24”x30” paper -- $500 ea.

Captured in the field on large format transparency film using the finest traditional means, no reproduction on the Internet can adequately convey the qualities of these images.

I strike high resolution scans from select originals then work from digital files, applying traditional darkroom techniques. When each image meets my final approval, I craft single prints from only the highest grade materials, taking full advantage of state of the art archival inks, papers and methods.

Properly presented and cared for, my prints will provide decades of reflection and pleasure.

All images are available for purchase in limited editions, signed and numbered. I offer handmade prints in three standard paper sizes, with the image sized to fit comfortably on the paper to allow for matting and framing. Actual final size of each print is determined by the image itself. Shipping costs are additional. All prints are shipped flat and fully insured.

Due to the discontinuation of large format film stocks, Iíve recently begun shooting medium format transparencies and some of those images now appear on this website. Though the 120 format has long been a professional medium, for the time being Iíll offer prints of those images only up to the 19x24 size.

Please inquire.

With his mother, my great grandfather arrived on a stagecoach in 1893 near the southern shore of Lake Superior to join his father, who’d been there for how long before no one alive remembers.

I return often to my ancestral home and as a fine art photographer have pursued special moments of object and light around three of the Great Lakes. I’ve come to know remote places few recall and fewer still ever visit. In the richness of this region is found robust contour and line, sublime shadow and light, conflict, serenity, a resurgent natural wildness and myriad sign of a remarkably diverse cultural impact, fast fading.

Wilderness obscures the track of many peoples long past and here their mark is being reclaimed by what some once thought to tame. That struggle is of particular interest to me, whether those people were our Ojibwa cousins who dyed rock with symbols, fur trappers that traded pelts for coin, miners who risked all to fuel an industrial revolution, or immigrant farmers that hacked their way through the woods chasing a dangerous dream to carve a better life for their sons and daughters from a hard, unyielding land.

Our place in the natural world is rarely secure and we cannot make it more so through resistance. The Great Spirit of the wilderness will outlast our construct and its song of inevitability holds valuable lessons, we have but to listen. My photography is an effort to reflect this Spirit as a captured moment in time. To reveal us in its shadow and perhaps provide a window -- however slight -- through which each might discover their own personal glimpse of the mystery that inhabits and fuels us all.


2011 © Hand Made Images  

At Risk

Throughout the Great Lakes region there remains intact the construct of peoples gone before. It’s not so long since white men were new upon this land and we made quite a mark, in so short a time. Much of what remains today does so by happy accident. Sometimes, it’s through the generational will of families born to a love for a particular landscape and ever reluctant to leave.

In this gallery are images of places afforded no formal protection. It includes structures with a date on the calendar scheduled to slide them over into Wreckage.

2011 © Hand Made Images  

The Landscape

The landscape of the Superior Basin is one of the oldest on earth, its mountains worn down to the nub, ancient bedrock exposed, water running off hard rock. Even in the latter 19th Century, much of it was still considered impenetrable wasteland. Once we realised the almost unimaginable richness of the place, in a few short years great swaths of it were laid to waste. Then having taken what we could, most left and the land quickly became reborn.

Though almost completely shorn of its native hardwood forests, once again the Superior Basin is a magnificent natural place overflowing with robust beauty that masks an utter indifference to the welfare of all who traverse it.

On the shores of Superior can still be found fossilized evidence of life dating back to nearly two billion years ago. Lest we think our footprints on that wilderness are the first, or will be the last.


The North Shore
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness

2011 © Hand Made Images  



Ruined construct often finds a way through collapse to strength outside the reach of architects. Wreckage tells a story different from the intent of those who once came to build and to live.

The architecture of neglect reminds us that our dreams are no stronger than we and they do not outlast us. Left to the ceaseless endeavor of the natural world, even the most lasting of our constructs eventually falls, to be reclaimed by the land from which we made them.


Whitecap Mountain Manor, Iron County WI
Quincy Smelter, Hancock MI

2011 © Hand Made Images  


Should a peopleís story survive, itís because they persist to tell it. If our constructs survive their immediate purpose, itís because we will it. Such remnants carry intrinsic value across generations. Through these we might remember what it meant to build them, so to better understand how it is we came to be us.

Across the Midwest, there exist numerous organizations devoted to the preservation of our cultural and architectural history. These groups are often barely funded and do heroic work all the same. Site supervisors, docents, skilled workers and countless volunteers devote untold hours of effort to preserve some bit of our past for those future generations yet to come.

I urge you to support these fine people and their good work.
To get you started, for every print sold of an image taken at an organized historical site, 15% of the total yearly sales will be donated to that organization.

Old Victoria, Michigan
Fort William  Ontario, Canada
Fayette, Michigan
Old World Wisconsin

2011 © Hand Made Images