George Soule on Lane’s Island
L.L. Bean Photo Mural
The company wished to enhance the surroundings for their employees at three of their locations in Maine: the employee cafeteria at Bean’s headquarters in Freeport; a call center in Portland; and a manufacturing plant in Brunswick.
I worked with the human resources department to select themes for the three murals; the company culture of L.L. Bean was very familiar to me, as I had recently researched and written a comprehensive history of the company. With the general themes identified, I then scouted locations, arranged for Bean employees to act as models, shot the photographs on large-format film, and designed the murals themselves, which measure 50 feet long by 7 feet high.
Each mural consists of four independent sections, each 12-1/2 feet wide; these sections are mounted via hidden cleats that are fastened permanently to the wall. The scenes can be changed every few months, roatating the three murals among the three locations, and thus giving the employees a fresh view. One mural can be swapped for another in about fifteen minutes.
George Soule died in the 1990s, but he remains one of the principal and iconic characters of the Bean company history. He spent many years tying trout flies for “L.L.”. In the 1960s George and “L.L.” partnered with several like-minded friends to buy Lane’s Island, in order to prevent development and to preserve as welcoming stop-over spot for ducks.
One fine morning, well before dawn, George and I paddled out to Lane’s Island, off the coast of South Freeport, Maine, to make this shot. I set up my 5x7 field camera, and at the moment the sun broke over the horizon, captured George with his favorite shotgun and a brace of decoys.
The other two murals depict similar outdoor settings. In one, canoeists paddle in a Bean canoe on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, with Katahdin (Maine’s highest peak and a beloved symbol of the state) in the background. The other mural depicts two Bean employees fly-casting for Atlantic salmon at the famed Reversing Falls in Wiscasset, Maine.