Photographer Profile Series
Ryan Tischer makes it easy to Take a Piece of the North Shore Home™
There is no doubt that Ryan Tischer is a talented photographer with a skillful eye.
His dramatic North Shore images, rich in color and light, often invoke feelings of peace and tranquility in the viewer. His work is displayed in many local clinics and hospitals, as nature photography has proven soothing to patients.
But he also deserves a lot of credit for becoming a successful businessman. Believe it or not, photography is the only job he’s ever had. And it’s certainly kept him busy.
Tischer, who is mostly self-taught, began exhibiting his work at art shows in his 20s, where he displayed and sold his photos. After many years of hard work and persistence, however, his days as a starving artist are behind him.
Today he owns and operates Tischer Gallery at 395 South Lake Avenue in Duluth’s Canal Park. Here, he sells his photography - which is museum-quality artwork - mounted on canvas or metal. He also sells calendars and notecards featuring his images. He refers to his niche as “fine art landscape photography.”
Tischer has become successful enough to employ four people who handle sales, managerial tasks, and artwork production for the business. He has legally trademarked his motto: “Take a piece of the North Shore home.”
Tischer owes much of his success to his clients – many of whom are impressively loyal. “Many of my customers are repeat collectors,” he shared. “Some people have more than 20 pieces from my collection. Without repeat collectors, I wouldn’t be able to make a living doing this.”
Tischer is an only child and was born and raised in Carlton. His mother, Carol, worked for the Star Gazette newspaper and as a painter; his father, Duane, worked for a local print shop. His parents are enjoying their retirement, although his mother continues to paint. To his knowledge, Tischer is unrelated to the logging/farming family of Duluth Tischers, for whom Tischer Creek and Tischer Road are named.
Like most hardy Minnesotans, the Tischer family spent much time outdoors. “My parents are very outdoorsy people, and they brought me along on many camping and fishing trips – whether I wanted to go or not,” Tischer said with a chuckle. “Now, when I’m outdoors, I tend to have my camera with me.”
While in his senior year of high school, Tischer took his first photography course. “We used black and white film, and it was processed in a dark room,” he explained. “I discovered that photography came quite naturally to me.”
Tischer was also inspired by the work of well-known National Geographic photographer, Jim Brandenburg, who is based in Ely.
Most of Tischer’s images have been taken in the Lake Superior region. This includes Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche State Park, the Superior Hiking Trail, and Duluth. However, he has traveled across the United States and to Iceland for his work, too.
“The most interesting place to take photos was Iceland,” Tischer said. “It’s hard to take a bad picture there. The weather is always changing, and there are rainbows, dramatic skies, and light coming through steam.”
Immediately after high school, Tischer began entering a variety of art shows and festivals. His first show was the Moose Lake Agate Days, in 2005. Tischer was 20 years old.
“I’m glad I found out that people would buy my landscape work when I was in my early 20s - before getting roped into a regular career,” he noted.
When choosing his educational path, Tischer included photography in his journey. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communicating arts – with a minor in photography – from the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS).
In 2008, he hustled extra hard and participated in 45 art shows, including a whopping three within three days. “2008 wasn’t a great year to sell luxury items to the middle class,” he noted. But he survived.
In 2015, he received a wonderful opportunity to participate in Duluth’s downtown popup storefront program. His first location was at 5 West Superior Street. “That really allowed me to get my feet wet with trying a retail location,” he explained. He joined the program again in 2016, and was located on 3rd Avenue West.
In 2017, Tischer was experiencing enough success to take the leap, and open a brick-and-mortar location of his own. He opened Tischer Gallery at 5 West Superior Street – the same location as his first popup. He operated his business there until 2020, when yet another opportunity presented itself.
“In 2020, this space (395 South Lake Avenue) became available, a rare opportunity here in Canal Park. It was risky because it was during the pandemic and a lot of retail locations remained closed, but I always knew I needed to be in Canal Park. It’s by far the best place for foot traffic and tourists.”
Tischer Gallery consists of 2,400 square feet of gallery space, with an additional loft for storage and a breakroom. Here, Tischer and his team display, print, and frame his images.
After some trial and error, Tischer has landed on specific equipment that works for him. He uses a Fuji GFX-100S - a 101-megapixel, mirrorless, medium-format digital camera.
He often works in longer exposure, which creates that soft, blended look when capturing things like waterfalls. He also enjoys tinkering with the contrast and saturation of his images.
Tischer uses a commercial-grade Canon Pro-4100 printer with Canon Lucia pigment-based ink. The art is printed on high-gloss polyester film spray-coated to reduce reflection and seal the photograph. Tischer's photos are not covered in glass. And he enjoys patronizing another local business – The Tongue & Groove Store – where he purchases frame molding.
Every piece of Tischer art has a lifetime guarantee against fading or other defects. “My art is rated to last a long time – up to 100 years,” Tischer explained. “It should outlast the client.”
Regarding tips for other photographers, Tischer generously shared his thoughts. “I look for compositions of points of interest and magical light,” he said. “Find a location that speaks to you, and keep going back until you find that magical light,” he added.
On the business end, Tischer said, “Keep creating inspiring work, and know how to market yourself. I would recommend doing art shows and festivals. Have an e-mail list, a mailing list, and a monthly newsletter. Finally, be approachable – whether you like people or not.”
These tactics have worked. Over the years, he’s racked up some impressive nominations and awards, such as Best in Show at the Ely Blueberry Art Festival. Tischer has been a Destination Duluth contributing photographer for ten years, amassing over 2 million views of his images.
And, his advice for buyers? “I try to encourage people to buy what makes them feel, rather than using logic.”
Tischer lives in West Duluth and is a dad to a four-year-old daughter, Ruby. He enjoys tackling projects around his home, such as the new porch he recently replaced. “I’m moderately handy,” he noted with a grin.
He also enjoys hiking, camping, and bicycling. His ultimate goal is to convert a cargo van to a camper van and become a snowbird someday.
His favorite Duluth venues include walking/hiking at the end of Park Point, Chester Park, Kingsbury Creek and the Munger Trail. And he enjoys dining at India Palace, Vitta Pizza, and Northern Waters Smokehaus.
For Tischer, it has been incredibly enjoyable to blend art with business and make a living doing so. He is also grateful to be able to provide employment for his team.
“The most rewarding thing is creating this little family and having other people involved in what I do,” he noted.
“As far as the nicest compliment I’ve ever received, I have two: A random art fair-goer once said, ‘This shit is dope, yo.’” Contrast that with another vastly different, yet equally enthusiastic, reaction. “One woman saw my work and started crying. My art spoke to her that much.
“I like to say that when people buy a piece of my art, they’re buying a little piece of me, too.”
For more information, please visit ryantischerphoto.com.