Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Canton Attorney Lends Shutterbug Skills to County Courthouses

Image of a collage of Ohio courthouse buildings

Attorney-photographer David Dingwell is two-thirds through his quest to photograph all of Ohio's 88 county courthouses. Pictured above are images of his work.

Image of a collage of Ohio courthouse buildings

Attorney-photographer David Dingwell is two-thirds through his quest to photograph all of Ohio's 88 county courthouses. Pictured above are images of his work.

Fifty-five down, 33 to go. That’s the scorecard for Canton attorney David Dingwell in his quest to photograph all 88 Ohio county courthouses.

His work is on display through December at the Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography in Canton as part of the Justice & Architecture exhibit that coincides with this year’s Stark County Courthouse bicentennial.

Dingwell, a partner at Tzangas Plakas Mannos and chair of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct, spoke to Court News Ohio about his project.

Dingwell said he began his adventure in 2012 after shooting the Stark County Courthouse. After first photographing courthouses close to home on weekends in his spare time without a detailed route, Dingwell said increased distances required a different approach.

“I quickly realized that it would be better to plan the logistics of the trip to try to capture at least two or three counties in one trip as efficiently as possible, and weather permitting,” he said. “So watching the weather forecast, finding free time on a weekend/holiday, and then executing it can be tricky.”

Primarily in color, he also shoots courthouse exteriors in black and white and only when courthouses are closed.

“The enemies of architectural photography are people and cars,” he said. “Trying to shoot a courthouse exterior with people walking around, opening doors, and cars parked in front of the courthouse absolutely destroys the shot.”

Picking up the hobby from his father, Dingwell said he can see a big difference in his skills five years later. In fact, he’s gone back to shoot courthouses again to capture better images. Dingwell said he also learned a big lesson about calling ahead.

“Last fall, my wife and I decided to go shoot Ottawa and Seneca on the same day. We plugged in the address of Seneca’s courthouse in the GPS, drove into town, and the GPS told us that we reached the destination. There was nothing but a hole in the ground. Certain that the GPS messed up, I got out and walked around trying to find the courthouse. A gentleman walked by, and I asked him where the county courthouse was at, he turned, pointed to the hole in the ground, and said, ‘right there.’”

While the completion of restoration and construction projects in Seneca, Licking, and Delaware counties will determine when Dingwell can put down his lens, he said he hopes to complete his project late next year and maybe compile the photos in a book.

He called the feedback to his project “enormous” because of the bicentennial, gallery exhibit, and “The Ohio Courthouse Project” facebook group.

“In short,” he said, “this has been an amazing personal experience that I never thought would reach this level when I started it.”

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