Louise Edrich Portrait for the Wall Street Journal

Jan 2020

Last month I met author Louise Erdrich at her bookstore, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. I arrived early at the area and walked the area near the shop, looking for outdoor photo options. It was fortunately a “warm” Minnesota winter day, sunny and 25°. Lake of The Isles is only a few blocks from the shop, and the previous weekend had been the Luminary Loppet ski race, so one section of the lake was covered in otherworldly ice pillars glittering in the winter sun.

With Erdrich’s Native American roots, it felt important to capture her in an outdoor setting, as much of her writing is tied to the land of the upper midwest. There is nothing more emblematic of a Minnesota winter than walking out onto the ice of a frozen lake – the wide open skies and serenity even in the middle of the city.

While it was clear from the beginning that Erdrich loves writing more than the work of being an Author, disliking the interviews, photoshoots, and book tours that are a necessity these days, saying that she had originally wished that some photos from a year or two ago could be used for this WSJ feature. But as we talked, and found common Twin Cities arts connections, we both relaxed and began to collaborate even more, both bringing photo ideas to the table. As we parted, Erdrich thanked me, and said “that was almost fun” – high praise from someone who dislikes photo sessions.

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