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The Trolls, the Trolls

The Trolls, the Trolls


Thomas Dambo is an internationally famous Danish artist who’s known for his large wooden trolls. In 2018, one of my regular clients, the Morton Arboretum, commissioned Dambo to build several of the trolls to place around the grounds. A team of several builders lead by Dambo built the trolls on site, then installed them after a couple months of labor. I was asked to shoot them three times– first as they were under construction, then after they were in place (using my thirteen year old daughter as a model), and finally with a group of kids and their moms from an agency as models.

Since they went up, the trolls have been the biggest thing the Arboretum has ever done, shared all over social media and bringing in tens of thousands of visitors and boosting membership in a big way.

The best part for me though, was when I found my daughter’s picture was being used on a brochure for the Arboretum. I brought it home and showed her and she got the biggest kick out of it. Serious dad points.

Gear | Canon 1DX Mark2, Canon 5D Mark 2, 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, 24-105mm f/4L USM, fill flash

Invasion of the Trolls

Invasion of the Trolls


One of my favorite clients is the Morton Arboretum, who I've been shooting for for about the last ten years. One of the cool things about the Arboretum is the yearly installation exhibits they've been doing. I've shot Steel Roots (steel piping twisted into the shape of tree roots), Legos, metal frogs, even large scale origami art, but I think this year's takes the prize for the coolest. For the last couple months, artist Thomas Dambo from Denmark and his team have been constructing gigantic trolls from reclaimed wood, and placed them in fields, in the woods, overlooking the highway and elsewhere.


I spent a couple hours photographing the trolls under construction in late May. Now they're finished and I'm heading back this afternoon to photograph the 'official portraits' of the completed trolls, with people to show the scale of the giants. Should be fun.

The trolls are on display for the next 2-5 years, depending on how long they last in the Chicago weather. If you're in the area, go see them; you won't be disappointed.