Dowagiac photographer wins Pure Michigan contest

Published 9:02 am Friday, November 13, 2015

Suellen Gause's award winning photo taken at Rocky Gap Park.

Suellen Gause’s award winning photo taken at Rocky Gap Park.

Like many of the images she ends up capturing with the lens of her humble Nikon point and shoot camera, the photo of Lake Michigan that Dowagiac’s Suellen Gause took during a brief sojourn to Benton Harbor last spring wasn’t a meticulously planned creation.

As she and her friend made their way back to Dowagiac the day it was taken, she noticed the crystal clear lake water, accompanied by an azure blue sky, at Rocky Gap Park, and immediately told her friend to pull over so she could capture the serene scenery.

“It was just one of those perfect days,” Gause said. “It was a weekday, so there weren’t that many people at the beach that day, either.”

Several months later, that spur of the moment of decision has garnered her the attention — and admiration — to photo buffs across the entire state of Michigan.

Gause’s picture was one of four winning photos in Pure Michigan’s recent photography contest, winning the top photo entry for the spring season. The picture and Gause’s name, along with the winners from the other three seasons, will be featured in the 2016 Pure Michigan Travel Guide. Gause will also receive merchandise from the Pure Michigan store for her victory.

The Dowagiac woman’s beachside photo beat out nearly 9,000 submissions from other state photographers, receiving the one of the top honors from the panel of judges after being voted into the top 10 by the

public online.

“I never, ever, ever thought I was going to win,” Gause said. “I was shocked.”

The victory is one of the top recognitions that the Dowagiac native has received during her time behind the lens. Gause has been following her passion for photography for years, taking pictures of family outings, vacations and other things from an early age, she said.

“I’ve always enjoyed photography,” she said. “I’ve been taking pictures since I was little. I probably got my first camera for Christmas when I was in second grade.”

Despite being bitten by the shutterbug at such a young age, Gause has only recently made the jump from amateur to professional. After losing her job with the Dowagiac school district several years ago, the Dowagiac resident started her own online photography business, Eye Love the View, specializing in capturing the beauty of the outdoors, Gause said.

“I look for the special things that you don’t expect to see. …something so amazing you don’t expect to see it — but then there it is,” Gause said.

For someone who is still finding her feet in the vast world of professional picture taking, winning such a massive statewide contest has helped Gause feel like she is on the right track with her new career, she said.

“I felt that my photography was good enough to sell, but to win a contest of that size blew me away…I feel lucky,” Gause said.

People can see more of Gause’s work on her Etsy store, located at, or on Facebook, at