“When I first saw it, it was all about light, light and dark values, and you learn in my profession it’s not about what you see but how you see something,” said Appelt, a professor of light design at Northwestern University. “When I saw this, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I knew instantly what this was, and I knew also that this was captured at a very emotional time when the catwalk was being taken down.
“This is just an iconic picture if I’ve ever seen one,” he added.
Appelt sought out the photographer who had captured the image — Mari Rodgers of Grand Haven. He purchased the photo, which was the People’s Choice winner in the 2017 Winterfest photography contest.
Appelt wanted the photograph to be on display for all to see, so he chose to donate it to Loutit District Library.
On Tuesday, the library accepted the donation. The photograph was hung near the entrance to the library’s restrooms, where it will remain on permanent display.
“The mission of the library is to increase knowledge, inspire imagination and strengthen the community,” Appelt said. “That’s perfect — this is where it belongs. I’m excited to give back to a city that has been so important throughout my life.”
Rodgers told the library board that she took the award-winning photo on the evening of Dec. 12, 2015, which was her aunt’s 105th birthday.
“She’s now 108,” Rodgers said.
She added that her work differs from that of other photographers because she doesn’t do any post-production editing to her photos.
During Tuesday’s presentation, members of the library board described the photo as “spectacular,” “breathtaking,” “dynamic” and “beautiful.”
The catwalk was removed from Grand Haven’s south pier in 2016. The pier has been under reconstruction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the past two years, and that work wrapped up late last summer.
The catwalk will be replaced this coming summer. Work is currently underway to replace many of its original bents, which were deemed to be too weathered and worn to put back onto the pier. The newly fabricated pieces will be nearly identical in appearance to the old bents.