Biography of a New Orleans Photographer
Clarence John Laughlin (1905- 1985) of New Orleans is arguably the father of photographic surrealism in America. He was best known for his photographs of old plantation homes and his book, Ghosts along the Mississippi, but his life’s work was varied and broad. Laughlin was a mainstream photographer who was published in many national magazines. His contemporaries and associates included photographers Minor White, Wynn Bullock, and Edward Weston, as well as legendary editor Maxwell Perkins.
Laughlin was, however, often marginalized and ignored due to misunderstandings of his work and his often volatile personality. Equally annoying to many was his devotion to capturing images that depicted, with a zealous and sometimes disturbing sense of self-righteousness, the evil and poverty that he saw in the world.
A. J. Meek looks into the controversial life of one of the greatest photographers in American history. Through interviews with Laughlin’s colleagues, friends, and family, the author details the tumultuous connection between the struggles of the artist’s life, including strained professional relationships and failed marriages, and the work that brought him fame.
Clarence John Laughlin, "Farewell to the Past" No. 4. March 8, 1946, originally uploaded by BlackDoll.
Clarence John Laughlin captured the Romanticism and mystery of New Orleans as no one else has ever been able to do. His compositions captured the grand architecture fading into ruin and decay. but still with its beauty intact. He had an eye for fantasy and was able to make poetry with his work . Laughlin took areas out of the tourist view that had suffered from climatic conditions and poverty and created a world of his own. His was known as an Industrial and Architectural Photographer but I think most think of him as the the first American Surrealist photographer. and an enigma in his own right. It has been said the movie “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte ‘s” film direction was influenced by his work.