Josh Bozarth, a Chief Petty Officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, joined the Coast Guard to pay for college and to get a sense of greater responsibility. He never thought that the Coast Guard would open the door to his dream job. “At the time the other military branches were not doing much except training and I wanted action instead of practice,” said Bozarth.
Bozarth found action. Before being stationed on the 140-foot ice-breaking tug Bristol Bay in July 2011, Bozarth completed three tours of duty in California, three in Florida and Puerto Rico and one in Texas. While stationed in Puerto Rico, Bozarth realized that he had already been stationed in some great areas of the United States, but he never went out to see what the communities had to offer. It was not until his father visited the island for vacation and made Bozarth chauffeur him around to take his own photos that Bozarth realized the potential for photography as a hobby.
“When my dad came to visit and made me drive him around, it opened my eyes to how beautiful life really is; so I bought my first camera and started exploring.”
Bozarth credits his father for getting him hooked on photography. His father’s visit to the island spurred a newfound passion for photography for Bozarth and strengthened the bond between them. Bozarth’s father, a professional photographer, is the first person to see Bozarth’s photo and is his best and worst critic. While stationed in tropical south Texas Bozarth received orders to an ice-breaking tug homeported in cold windy Detroit. “I was excited,” said Bozarth, “I had heard about all the beautiful places on the Great Lakes and could not wait to photograph them.” Bozarth had heard rumors that during ice-breaking season the cutters would hove to into the ice and if there was daylight left and the conditions were right, ice liberty would be granted. “Upon hearing about walking on the ice when the cutter is there sounded like a photographer's dream,” said Bozarth. “I knew I wanted a photo of the cutter in the ice with the sun setting behind her.” Indeed, the ice formations that crystallize during the long winters on the Great Lakes reveal a majestic splendor that is breathtaking to those who witness it. Unfortunately, Bozarth was not able to get his dream photo his first winter in the Great Lakes.
“There was not any ice in the area my first winter here and at the beginning of this winter it did not look promising either,” said Bozarth. “But then my cutter was tasked to head north to help break ice in the south channel near the Mackinaw Channel and that first night, I got the photo I had been waiting for.” Since moving to Detroit, Bozarth has gone out into the Great Lakes communities every chance he gets to take photos. Aboard the Bristol Bay, Bozarth has traveled from Buffalo, N.Y., to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., all the way up to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and his camera has gone with him. “Every chance I get, I go out into the surrounding areas and take pictures,” said Bozarth. “It has gotten to the point where the Coast Guardsmen and local civilians at the ports we visit see my pictures and then ask how to get to the beautiful places I find.” Since taking up photography Bozarth has started Joshua Bozarth Photography and has sold several photos. One company purchased the rights to one of his photos to use in their advertising for two years. “I take my camera everywhere with me,” said Bozarth. “Especially now that I am traveling around the Great Lakes because it is so beautiful here and I want to be able to share that with others.”
Bozarth states that his favorite place to take photos in the Great Lakes so far is the lighthouses on the west side of Michigan during the winter. “With the strong winter storm winds coming across the lake, the lighthouses and surrounding areas get freezing water and snow thrown up on them and it results in crazy ice formations,” said the chief. Bozarth states his next dream photo opportunity will be next winter when he plans to travel to the Michigan Upper Peninsula and see the frozen waterfalls. “I can’t wait to get to the next place and see what is in store,” said Bozarth, “between the frozen waterfalls, fall and spring colors, and the lighthouses covered in snow, the Great Lakes are a photographer’s paradise.”