Christian Ulanch
Christian's Mission
Christian's Hope

Photography is more than a hobby for Christian, it has become his second shot at life. His new mission is to share his photography and his story with the world. If you’re ever on Anna Maria Island, you can visit Christian’s photography stand at Pineapple Junktion, where he will sit and talk with visitors.

You can also help Christian continue his photography mission by donating today. Donations will go toward the necessary photography equipment, as well as better equipment to help him and his service dog, Ivan, get around.

If you would like to purchase any of Christian’s photography, please contact him through direct message on his Instagram by clicking here.

CHRISTIAN'S STORY


I was Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was the youngest of four children. After graduating high school in ’88, I attended junior college for one year for architecture, but decided that it wasn’t for me, so I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 19.

I was actually slated to join the Army, but I lost a basketball game to a Marine recruiter, so I had to go talk to him and next thing you know I’m headed to San Diego for boot camp in May of ‘90. After I completed boot camp, I went to Marine Combat Training In San Onefre, California, then went to MOS school in Courthouse Bay, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I excelled quite well there, as a matter of fact, I went from Private to Private first class for time in and was promoted two days later to Lance Corporal because I had received the Band of Brothers award for Academics and leadership skills.

My first duty station was Okinawa, Japan, which I absolutely loved. The reason I enjoyed Okinawa so much was because it was considered to be the second best dive spot in the world, second to only the Great Barrier Reef. I also enjoyed camping at Hiji Falls almost every weekend and the history of the island is just incredible. After six months on The Rock, as it is affectionately referred to, I was sent to Saudi Arabia for operation Desert Storm. After spending six months over in the Sand Pit I returned to Okinawa where I extended my tour for another year.

I spent a couple weeks in the Philippines and also went to Jungle Warfare School after my tour in Okinawa was over. I was lucky enough to be stationed in Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay. After about six months in Hawaii, I was promoted to full corporal and was lucky enough to go to the Corporals Course. I also went to Jungle survival school, which was quite the experience, since they didn’t feed us for three days with the exception of a couple MRE’s. They gave us a live chicken, but needless to say that chicken wasn’t alive for too long. I made it to the Islands of Molokai, Kauai and the big Island and enjoyed body boarding and snorkeling and I was a talented artist (if I do say so myself).

After my four years were up, I decided to give college another try, so I headed back to Michigan. Less than a year after I got out, I was snowboarding in Northern Michigan when I complained of a headache to my friend. I told him just to go up the hill and come back down and get me, but when he got back to the bottom of the hill, I was passed out in the snow from a spontaneous brain hemorrhage that was believed to be from chemical exposure during Desert Storm.

I was in a coma for about six months and the first thing I actually remember was waking up in Mary Free Bed Hospital in Grand Rapids. I was in a bad place and did not want to live that way but somehow persevered and started doing therapy. I went to many hospitals and outpatient clinics, and suffered two Grand Mal Seizures.

I was living with my parents at the time and they decided to move down to Florida, so we settled on Anna Maria Island, off the Gulf Coast. Since I could no longer partake in art, since I was right handed and the hemorrhage affected the entire right side of my body, I progressed into photography. Photography created a new desire in me, to take beautiful photos and share them with the world. It has given me a new drive

In February of ’17 I was partnered with Ivan, my assistance dog, by the amazing people at PAWS . The very first time I met him, the first thing he did was come up and rest his head between my legs and looked right at me. Ivan and I go everywhere together. He’s my assistant camera man on every photo shoot.

Now I spend as much of my time on Anna Maria Island taking photos and talking with people at my photo stand at Pineapple Junktion. I welcome everyone to come out and visit.

CHRISTIAN'S MIGHTY 5 ADVENTURE


I am currently planning a trip to Utah with my brother to visit the Mighty 5. The set of five amazing national parks in Utah which includes: Canyon Lands National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. This will just be the start of my United States photography mission. I plan on having a team join me to capture every moment of the journey and piece it together into a documentary. I have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of the trip, photo supplies, and the documentary team. I greatly appreciate all of your help. Thank you.