Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Photographers

The Covington area has been home to a number of talented professional photographers over the years.

Anyone who dabbled in photography in St. Tammany Parish over the past 50 or so years knows the name of Jack Swanson. He taught photography classes at the St. Tammany Art Association in Covington and took thousands of pictures of local events and people.

Jack Swanson

He inspired The Jack Swanson Annual Photographic Exhibit at the art association. 

Jack Swanson, right, with artist Claire Rohrbough

 The ad below appeared in the 1929 Lyon High Graduation program

A couple of the earliest photographers in Covington were Fred Reichard and Fred Darragh.

Fred Reichard

Self Portrait of Fred Reichard taken in his studio circa 1960. According to his daughter Tanya Reichard Voorhees, Reichard also did freelance work from his backyard telescope for Astronomy magazine in the 1970's after he retired from his studio. He took pictures of solar and lunar eclipses.

A Horse Show photograph by Jack West, featuring
August Schoultz riding Buttermilk Too, a quarterhorse mare

Photographers over the past 45 years include Hazel OgdenArt Lemane,  Emile Navarre,  Alice Fielding, Harriet Blum, and Leslie Taylor. 

Jack West and Marie Cobb did horse show photographs as well as other pictures. Armin Diblin was quite active in the chamber of commerce, and Earl Wilson Jr. did some photography out of Photo-Sonics. Some of them had studios, and others preferred outdoor settings and lighting. Karen Hays took a variety of photographs across the community and was particularly interested in children's pageants.

 Emile Navarre

I worked with Emile Navarre on the Mandeville Banner newspaper before he opened his own photography studio in Mandeville in 1976. He was pleased when a picture he took of an accident on the causeway was printed on the front page of the New York Times. 

In 1991 Navarre was president of the Mandeville Chamber of Commerce, the  grand marshal of the Krewe of Orpheus, and President of the Professional Photographers of Louisiana association. 

In 1993 he won a national award from the Professional Photographers of Louisiana (PPA). He also earned the designation of "Master Photographer" and "Photographic Craftsman" from the organization. In 2003 he won the PPA Directors Award. 

Emile Navarre's portraits showed his studio lighting and darkroom skills

Hazel Ogden turned out a large number of black and white studio portraits, each with her own style of lighting and lens focus. Her studio was on N. New Hampshire,  a few doors north of Rutland Street.

 Hazel Ogden's portraits featured unique lighting and focus effects

Elizabeth Malone worked for Hazel Ogden and hand colored many of the portraits that came from that studio.

 An Art Lemane photograph of his daughter
Kappa Alpha Sweetheart Lynda Lemane

Harriet Blum went on to become a well-known landscape photographer specializing in hand-tinted black and white images. Her work is in demand for its uniqueness and nostalgic leanings.

Bob Taylor did crime scene photography for the Covington police department and the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper. David Grunfeld, Chuck Cook and Lionel Cottier Jr. were photojournalists for the Picayune. Over in the society section, Elizabeth Moore has taken thousands of pictures of smiling people enjoying themselves at local events. 

Ron Barthet worked as an editor and photographer for several newspapers for more than 30 years, taking pictures of community events in addition to scenic area photographs in his spare time. He has presented slideshows of his work involving aerial photography as well as historical photographs of the area. From 2000 to 2014, he provided pictures for the St. Tammany Parish School Board website. He is related to the Barthet Brothers photographers who took many pictures in the Labadieville, LA, area in the late 19th century. 

Ron Barthet and his photo of a firefighter demonstrating a car rescue

Nick Cognevich took a number of photos at athletic events, and Paul Salvant was always out and about taking sports pictures. I apologize ahead of time if I left out anyone taking a serious number of professional pictures in the 1970's and 1980's.

Today in 2018 the Covington/Mandeville area has a number of amazing photographers. What kind of photography do they do? Well, there are weddings, engagements, high school senior portraits, family portraits, house portraits, real estate photos, aerial photos, legal photography, microphotography (at the research labs), nature photography, Astronomy photos, horse show and rodeo photography, newspaper photojournalism, architectural photography, commercial and product photography, and event photography such as ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and graduations. 

Let's not forget that most resilient and durable photographer of all, the professional who takes all those school classroom pictures and student portraits for yearbooks. The rich treasure trove of classroom pictures of students down through the years are incredibly important to the residents of this area, and their relatives and genealogy researchers.

Sometimes I will drive through downtown Covington, and there will be one or more professional photographers and their photo subjects walking around the downtown buildings, using them as backgrounds for portraits. When it comes to portrait backgrounds, it's hard to beat downtown Covington's buildings, wall surfaces, and posing spots.

See also:

How I Learned Photography the Old Fashioned Way