Photographers are key to the success of Destination Duluth

Nathan Klok

Photographers who attended the the second annual "Celebration of Photographers". There are over 250 contributing photographers. Photo by Nathan Klok.

The second annual Destination Duluth “Photomeet & Celebration of Photographers” was held at Spirit Mountain on Monday, Jan 17, 2022. Following the afternoon Photomeet, photographers, guests and sponsors gathered in the chalet Moosehead Saloon for appetizers during the social hour, followed by a presentation and awards ceremony.

After attending the launch party in 2013, John Heino became one of the first contributing photographers. –Photo by Nathan Klok


The presentation included the history of Destination Duluth, going back to 2006 when co-founder Branden Robinson purchased the domain. Branden, Chris Swanson and Tom Livingston began meeting in 2012 and formed the non-profit organization. On May 23, 2013, about 40 content creators met at Zeitgeist, each offering to donate content for Destination Duluths Facebook page. The support of the creative community was and always has been the reason for its success.

Co-founder Branden Robinson at the Celebration of Photographers event. –Photo by Nathan Klok

Following its launch, Destination Duluth's Facebook page saw remarkable growth, topping over 2,000 in just 20 days, hitting 5,000 on day 50, continuing to add 100 fans a day, and reaching 50,000 on day 500. Today, there are over 225,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram @destination_duluth.

At the gathering, Managing Director Jerry Thoreson shared the mission of Destination Duluth: “to educate and inspire people about the quality of place of Duluth, Minnesota, thereby shaping the city and region’s positive growth.”

Jerry Thoreson, Destination Duluth's managing director sharing photos from leading photographers. –Photo by Nathan Klok

Destination Duluth’s mission focuses on three qualities of place:

  1. Lake – Taking inspiration from the largest fresh-water lake in the world by volume, Destination Duluth covers Lake Superior from Duluth to Grand Portage on the North Shore, and to Bayfield, WI on the South Shore through photography, videos and stories.
  2. Life – By sharing the life-giving qualities of Duluth, we are educating and inspiring people to visit and #befromDuluth.
  3. Light – Photographers know “it’s all about the light.” Our goal is to put a spotlight on this amazing place we call home. Through social media, we do this by showcasing amazing photos and videos. On our website, we share stories of people of Duluth who weave the fabric of our culture.

Thoreson shared achievements from 2021, including 52,000,000 impressions, along with 2,400,000 engagements. That averages to 142,000 views a day, with 6,500 clicks of engagements. The engagement rate is so remarkable that Destination Duluth was ranked third in the nation in social media engagement in the tourism category, according to for three consecutive months in August-October, 2021.

Forty-seven photographers were recognized for their photos exceeding 200,000 impressions on the Destination Duluth’s Facebook page. Twenty-one had over a million impressions and were recognized as a Top Photographer. Award certificates were presented along with DLH decals.

This photo by Jeff Doty was viewed over 500,000 times on Destination Duluth

In 2022 Destination Duluth seeks to substantially develop its website by sharing a Photographer Profile series and “Life in Duluth” stories.

Destination Duluth’s upcoming events are the “9thAversary Photomeet and Party” on May, 23, 2022, tentatively scheduled at The Depot; a fall “Photomeet” at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum/North Shore Scenic Railroad, and the third annual Celebration of Photographers to be held as a gala at the DECC on January 16, 2023.

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