When Duluth won Outside Magazine's "Best Town in America" Contest, the August 2014 cover story spurred Tanner and Pamela Hermes to move to Duluth.
Photographer Profile Series
Although his Louisiana accent has faded with time, Tanner Hermes’ southern charm and good manners remain firmly intact. One of four children born to Randal and Susan Hermes, a police officer and a school teacher, Tanner is polite and well-spoken. “My mom was very big on grammar,” he noted.
What is a Louisiana boy doing way up here in the Great Northwoods? you may be wondering. Hermes was inspired to move here after reading Outside Magazine’s 2014 story, “Why Duluth is the Best Town in America,” written by Stephanie Pearson. 
“I love the fact that Duluth has a small-town feel, but with tons of amenities,” he shared. “I can ski, rock climb, and even mountain bike right out my back door. There are great restaurants, breweries, and shopping. Our kids love the zoo and the aquarium. And everything is so easily accessible and right in front of us – with no traffic.”
Youth and Education
Athletics were a significant part of Hermes’ youth. He played several sports, but truly excelled on the football field.
Hermes played college football at Louisiana Tech, earning a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology – studying human movement. His alma mater is located right in his hometown of Ruston, Louisiana.
He later graduated with a master’s degree in medical science from Arcadia University’s physician assistant program in Philadelphia. Before moving to the Twin Ports, Hermes and his wife, Pam, lived in Seattle for seven years.
Today, Hermes lives right here in Duluth. He and Pam have two young children – Hazel (7), and Hunter (3), and a Springer Spaniel named Tug. Hermes is a physician assistant at Orthopedic Associates. He is also a relatively new, but highly talented photographer.
He and his family made the move in 2017, and today, he considers Duluth home.
Draw to Medicine
Hermes first considered a career in medicine because of his involvement in sports. “I was initially interested in physical therapy,” he said. “I felt it was a natural progression from playing sports.
“But I also enjoyed surgery and orthopedics. I did some job shadowing and decided I wanted to be a PA.”
Hermes met his wife, Pam, while attending PA school in Pennsylvania. While Tanner was drawn to orthopedics, Pam focused on neurology and stroke care. Today, she is a physician assistant for the stroke team at Essentia Health. Interestingly, Pam is originally from Hurley, Wisconsin.
The two graduated from PA school in 2010, and moved to Seattle, where they both found jobs in their field. They were married in 2012.
Initially, the couple loved Seattle. “We spent every weekend in the mountains, hiking and backpacking,” Hermes said. “I volunteered with the Seattle Mountaineers and even got into rock climbing.”
After some time, however, the long commutes and a welcome new addition had the Hermes’ thinking of a change. “After we had our first child, Hazel, it became more important for us to be near family,” Hermes said.
“And the Pacific Northwest is so beautiful, but you feel like you’re really far away,” he added. “For instance, it took a 2-hour car ride for us to go skiing in Seattle.”
The couple knew they wanted to be somewhere in the Midwest. So, they started researching places to live. Initially, Lacrosse, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan were top contenders. But then they discovered Duluth.
Duluth via Outside Magazine
In May 2014, Duluth was one of 64 cities selected to participate in Outside Magazine's contest for "Best Town In America." Destination Duluth designed and implemented the #VoteDuluth social media campaign and website, in a campaign led by then-mayor Don Ness. Competing through six rounds of bracket-style face-offs, Duluth handily won each round and was crowned in the Outside Magazine August 2014 cover story.
After reading the article, Hermes recalls turning to his wife, tossing the question, "What about Duluth?"
“I still remember the article. I thought, ‘This place sounds really cool. It has everything we like to do – hiking trails, mountain biking, skiing. And Pam had remembered trips she had taken to Duluth as a kid.
“I started looking for job opportunities for orthopedic PAs, and believe it or not, there were two job opportunities in Duluth. One for an orthopedic PA, and one for a stroke PA. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
“We came to Duluth, interviewed, and discovered it was the perfect fit for our family. I was hired at Orthopedic Associates. I help patients with joint replacements, trauma, and sports-related injuries with surgeon Dr. Sam Harms. And, Pam was hired as a PA in stroke care at Essentia. We moved here in 2017.
Hermes is also a talented photographer. He bought his first camera in 2011, but at that time, he didn’t have the drive to delve into the hobby truly.
During the pandemic, however, Hermes decided to get back into photography. And Duluth and the surrounding area have provided the perfect muse. His niche includes vibrant landscapes, northern lights, and captivating shots of the night sky and Milky Way.
His images, rich in dramatic color and light, have captured much attention. Destination Duluth’s Jerry Thoreson contacted Hermes in 2022, and Hermes has since become a well-respected photographer on DD’s platforms. He received a certificate recognizing 260,000 impressions of his 12 photos featured on DD Facebook and Instagram in 2022.
Hermes shared several of his favorite spots to photograph. “I love Stoney Point for waves, Lake Superior images, and surfing,” he said. “And I like the Isabella area for shooting the Milky Way and northern lights. Brighton Beach is another favorite. I feel like there are so many little pockets of interesting rock formations and compositions all along the North Shore.”
A recent highlight shared on the Destination Duluth platforms was Hermes’ 2023 Labor Day photos. They included Hermes, friends, and family enjoying a day of paddleboarding on Lake Superior. A fun addition was the floating charcuterie board!
Hermes is entirely self-taught, sharing what he has learned through watching YouTube videos and other online tutorials and reading photography blogs.
When it comes to equipment, Hermes has upgraded since his early days. “I finally bought my dream camera in 2021,” he explained. “It is a Sony A7 III with a full-frame sensor. This is important for night sky photography. It allows you to gather more light and shows less ‘noise,’ or grain, in the images.”
He also utilizes the app PhotoPills, which helps photographers plan their photo shoots by calculating the exact timing of the sun and moon.
While he doesn’t currently promote sales of his images, they are available for purchase by request. As Hermes has continued to improve his craft, he has also been asked to take family photos for friends.
Hermes has been richly blessed with a rewarding career, a healthy family, and an absolute passion for his adopted hometown. Looking ahead to the future, he shared that he’d like to continue to improve his photography.
“It’s great to know you can be entirely self-taught and learn to do anything you’re passionate about,” he said. “I feel like photography is a hobby that can continue to grow for me. Improving my website is the next step in my evolution.
“But for now, I have really enjoyed contributing to Destination Duluth. I feel like I’m doing my part to help share the beauty of Duluth.”
To view his images, please visit tannerhermesphotography.com.