Events People

Introducing our 2019 Calendar Winners!

November 15, 2018

We are proud to introduce you to the 2019 Dig the Dunes calendar photographers! Above is a preview of the photos chosen for the calendar, which you can purchase in our online shop right now on sale for just $18. Please note, the price does goes up to $22 on November 25. The good news is that 10% of all calendar proceeds go to Save the Dunes!

The photographers will not only be featured in our 2019 calendar but their chosen photographs will be on display for the month of December after the Calendar Release & Artist Reception at SFC Gallery in Michigan city in conjunction with the December First Friday Art Walk!

We want to thank our 2019 cover photographer, Karen Cercone for being our guest judge for the blind picking of the winners! Karen was a 2018 calendar winner and over the last year she has joined the Dig the Dunes Ambassador program helping us promote events, volunteer and spread the word of our beautiful home!

We also want to thank everyone who participated – every year the number of submissions grow and the talent continues to blow us away!!

And now….your winners!


January – Jim Pappas

Jim is a father, global traveler (58 countries and counting!), and commercial real estate developer, with a passion for designing luxury beach front homes that capture the essence of Lake Michigan and its pristine shoreline and dunes.  Living in Miller Beach with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as his backyard, there is never a shortage of beauty to capture, regardless of the season. To recharge batteries and regain perspective, Jim and his family travel extensively exploring other cultures by truly living like locals—staying in vacation rental homes, shopping at local markets, and experiencing life as a non-tourist.  No matter where he is, Jim is inspired by landscapes and interiors that he loves to capture from behind the lens.  Follow his journeys, near and far, on Instagram and Facebook @MillerBeachVacationRentals.

February – Lauren Konyk

Lauren is an avid hiker and loves exploring the Indiana Dunes, especially in the winter. She feels there is just something magical about snow covered dunes and beautiful shelf ice. Shelf ice is very dangerous so please do not walk onto it! This photo was taken at West Beach as part of the Dune Succession Trail Loop. Follow Lauren on Instagram: @starlavega

March – Shane Griffin

Shane is an Interpretive Park Ranger at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This is a photo of an unique and globally rare natural feature called a panne at West Beach. It was taken on a foggy morning in May just before a school field trip group was to arrive.

April –  Phillip Kohler

Phillip has been a Dunie as long as he can remember! His grandmother, whose father was Superintendent of the Indiana Dunes State Park in the 1950’s, instilled his love of the lake, the beach and the dunes. His love has led him on a journey to connect with nature as much as possible and to somehow share that connection with others through the photos he takes or the art he creates with beach glass and rocks. You can see his photos and some of his art on Instagram  @kohler_philtography

May – Susan Kirt

Susan is a Valparaiso-based photographer who enjoys spending time in the Calumet region preserves, often with a camera in hand. She enjoys highlighting the beautiful, rare habitats and animals that call Northwest Indiana home, and sharing these images with others in the region. This year she is photographing the globally rare dune and swale habitat present in Lake County, Indiana as part of an Indiana Arts Commission grant, including this photograph of a ruby-throated hummingbird among the cardinal flowers. To see more of Susan’s work please click here as well as on Facebook and Instagram under @susankirtphotography.

June – Heather Punak

Heather is a Mom of 4 who loves to take photos of her kids and landscapes. She started by capturing her little ones in action and transitioned into landscapes, which she has found are much easier to get to stay in one place for the photo. She is happiest when surrounded by nature and loves exploring the Dunes and capturing its beauty. Instagram: @heather.punak

July – Larry Brechner

Larry has been active as a fine art photographer for almost forty years. His artistic photography work is mostly in landscapes, scenic, nature, wildlife, still life, buildings, nautical themes, plus includes abstract figure studies, and aerial work. Larry’s work is exhibited in galleries throughout Northwest Indiana, Suburban Chicago and Southwest Michigan plus appears in several private collections, in several regional calendars, and part of advertising and billboard campaigns. He is active on several art gallery boards and hosts ART ON THE AIR every Friday on WVLP 103.1FM. Larry earned his Doctor of Fine Arts in Theatre Studies, and previously received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Purdue University Northwest in Radio/TV/Theater Production and Management.  Recently retired from his full time work as an Auditorium and Musical Theater Director after a total of over 40 years, that includes 18 years as the Auditorium Director for the 1000 seat theater plus Producer/Director of the Munster Theatre Company.

August – Erin Healy-Erickson

Erin is the mother of two wonderful sons both attending Loyola University Chicago. She was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago and now reside in Homer Glen, Illinois. She has been visiting the beaches of Northwest Indiana since she was a child and her family was lucky enough to have a summer cottage on a lake in Valparaiso, IN as she was growing up. This was where the real appreciation and passion for the water and the dunes began. Being welcomed by the soft white sand and grassy dunes leading to the water’s edge is as exciting to her now as it was as a child. Erin loves to travel but equally enjoys long weekends away, especially in the town of Long Beach where she spends a lot of her free time. Follow Erin on Instagram: @healyerickson

September – Hilda Tsai

Hilda Tsai enjoys sharing the beauty of Duneland via photos captured with her iPhone camera. Hilda was born in West Virginia and raised in Ohio. After earning an engineering degree at the University of Illinois, she relocated by way of Chicago to NWI in the mid 90s to be closer to the natural wonders of the lake, beach, and dunes. She raised her Stop 37 beach babies in Duneland and is proud to say that they are both Purdue engineers. Boiler up!

October – Jeevitha Paulraj

The blue sky, water and trees surrounding Jeevitha have always fascinated her. Being in the dunes is like therapy. It not only relaxes and refreshes her, but it helps her forgive herself and others. Follow Jeevitha and her adventures on Instagram: @nomadchennaigirl

November – Dean Blobaum

Dean has been a resident of Beverly Shores since 2015. His photographs are taken on beaches, dune ridges, and on the bramble-tangled paths through the Great Marsh. Instagram: @dlblobaum

December – Laura Niemiec

Laura was born and raised in the city by the lake, Michigan City.  She is an Air Force veteran, a college grad, an indie author and a cat mom with a major case of wanderlust. She has always loved photography and has a passion to capture the beauty she sees in the world so she can share it with others. When she isn’t at her day job you will most often find her out diggin’ the dunes or taking weekend adventures to explore the Mitten State. You can keep up with her adventures on Instagram: @agirlandherphotographs


How can you purchase a calendar? There are two ways! You can go to our online shop, or you can join us at our Calendar Release Party & Artist Reception at SFC Gallery in Michigan City on December 7th. We hope to have all the photographers there, as well as musical entertainment, drink & appetizers, and some holiday goodies for sale from local vendors!

10% of the calendar proceeds go to Save the Dunes!

Special thanks to our calendar sponsors:
January – Miller Beach Vacation Rentals
February – Enlightened Living Hypnosis
March – McColly Real Estate – Great Lakes
April – Brewery Lodge
May – Hobgoblin
June – Friendship Botanic Gardens
July – North Star Properties
August – Greenbush Brewing
September – Beef Jerky Outlet
October – Jamie Hogan, Broker, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
November – Matey’s Restaurant
December – Sprigati



Welcome to Dig the Dunes!

Dig the Dunes uncovers all the secrets of the dunes! From trails and beaches, to people, places, events and even the history and geology. Visit our page frequently for fun facts and new adventures for you to embark upon!

We offer lots of classes like beach glass art, jewelry making, wine and canvas, hikes, comedy shows and more!

Questions or ideas? email us at