Lighthouse photographs by North Central College employee published worldwide

Apr 02, 2013

Stunning photographs of ice-covered lighthouses over a wintry Lake Michigan backdrop by Tom Gill, the College’s instructional media coordinator, have the world paying attention.

Media outlets from Australia’s Adelaide Now to the Huffington Post featured Gill’s photos in late March. One Post commenter called the photos “beautiful and haunting.”

“It’s pretty surprising,” Gill says of how quickly the media caught on to his photos, “and it’s nice to see the response the images get from different audiences internationally.”

Gill initially heard from an Australian news syndication, Australia News Limited, about featuring some of his photos in its network of print and web editions across the country. Not long after that, Gill heard from the Huffington Post, which also wanted to publish his photos online.

“At that point, I started getting a lot of hits on my blog,” Gill says.

A day after the Huffington Post published Gill’s photographs, the U.K. Daily Mail’s photo editor contacted him to request photos to publish on its website. Gill has also been invited to write an article for the Great Lakes Echo about his photography around Lake Michigan.

Although the sudden influx of media attention earlier this month caught Gill by surprise, it was not the first time he has shared his photography with the public. His photos have often been featured in special interest magazines and his work has been exhibited in various galleries, including the art gallery in the College’s Oesterle Library where Gill works.

Outside of working, Gill makes time for photography during the evenings and over the weekend. He takes a trip nearly every weekend to take photos in places with links to Lake Michigan whether it’s the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Illinois and Michigan Canal or the iconic lighthouses in the towns of St. Joseph and South Haven in Michigan.

Nevertheless, Gill holds a special interest in lighthouse photography, especially images of lighthouses after a wintertime storm when water from the lake freezes over the structures. The subject of ice-covered lighthouses is not necessarily new, but Gill is able to capture views of them that many other photographers may miss.

“Most people take pictures from the shore, but I like to walk to the end of the pier to get a different vantage point,” Gill says.

At times, Gill said he has braved harsh winds and the threat of falling into the icy water to take a good shot. “I wouldn’t risk my life if it was super-dangerous,” he adds.

Despite the media attention, Gill still considers photography to be his favorite “extracurricular activity.”

“I don’t look at it as a job,” he said. “It’s something that’s enjoyable for me.”

Gill lives with his family in Tinley Park, Ill.