Alum and professional photographer has worked all over the world and in nearly every church in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
When Notre Dame alum Dwight Cendrowski graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in journalism, the last thing he thought he’d be doing for the rest of his life was professional photography. In fact, photography was only just a hobby for him back then.
But around the year 1978, he started working professionally for clients, both newspapers and hospitals, shooting photos of corporate executives, manufacturing facilities and, yes, even Mother Teresa. He also traveled to Africa with a Detroit-area bishop to help chronicle the trip for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“My initial dream was to get on a newspaper staff after college,” said Cendrowski, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1970. “But the jobs just were not there, so I did photography work for several newspapers on a freelance basis. Those included the Observer Eccentric newspapers and a number of features for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press Sunday magazines.”
He also picked up quite a bit of work for many years from the Michigan Catholic.
“I joke with people that I’ve probably been in every Catholic church in the tri-county area,” he said. “Plus, I was able to travel to Ghana with then Bishop Moses Anderson in 1990. It was a fascinating trip.”
Cendrowski said he’s got many file cabinets filled with photos — and now in the digital age, many hard drives — from almost 40 years of photography. He’s also picked up quite a bit of video work over the past 15 years. The Harvard Business School is one of his clients and in 2015, Cendrowski worked on a photo shoot for the NDPMA annual report of donors.
So, after all the years of work and travel as a professional photographer and photojournalist, what things stand out for him more than others?
“Those three weeks in Ghana were an eye-opening look at a society so different from ours,” he said. “And yet I came away with the strong sense that at base people are very similar and want the same things in life.”
He said Ghana notwithstanding, the majority of his work is done in the U.S. But he’s also enjoyed being able to travel and shoot photos in Japan, Europe and China, to name a few.
“My son is the China correspondent for Fortune magazine, and I traveled to Beijing a year ago to visit with him and his wife,” he said. “I also did a photo story recently on a ‘bee trucker’ for a corporate magazine. That was fascinating. Several times a week, this truck driver crisscrosses the states hauling bees — twenty-four million at a time! The summer day I worked with him, he drove from Wisconsin to Michigan's thumb where a crew waited to unload his precious cargo of pollinators.”
Cendrowski has concentrated on mostly corporate work for the past many years, but it’s editorial assignments like the bee assignment that he enjoys more than others.
“I’ve also been able to use my writing talents for the past dozen years to do combination writing/photo assignments for a Swedish publisher and its industrial clients,” he said. “I’ve traveled to a number of cities in the U.S. for these assignments, the most recent being for a story on Oshkosh Corporation.”
“I photographed a quintuplet birth some years ago at the University of Michigan Hospital. And I’ve been in operating rooms for various operations, including open-heart surgery for a story I shot and wrote.”
‘Scary and brilliant’
Well-traveled and well-busy for sure, but Cendrowski still finds time to riff on some special memories of his time at Harper Woods Notre Dame.
“One of my favorite teachers at NDHS was Fr DesRosiers,” he said. “I took Latin from him and he was one of the funniest and most animated teachers I’ve ever had. He later officiated at my brother Mark’s wedding. Geez, that was 25 years ago!”
He recalls Conrad Vachon as “scary and brilliant” and said Ed Cackowski in the chemistry lab also holds special memories.
“I think it was Br. George Szal (now Fr. George Szal, s.m.) who took our class to a symphony in Detroit to give us heathens a bit of culture. Plus, certain other memories remain very vivid, like our class trip to Washington, D.C., and the many hockey games I played for the Irish.”
Additional work from Cendrowski along with contact information can be found at www.cendrowski.com.
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.