Quote of the Week: Clarence John Laughlin


“Everything that I see must become personal; otherwise, it is dead and mechanical. Our only chance to escape the blight of mechanization, of acting and thinking alike, of the huge machine which society is becoming, is to restore life to all things through the saving and beneficent power of the human imagination.” —Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985)

Clarence John Laughlin wrote passionately about the connection between photography and imagination. For his first professional job, Laughlin worked as a Civil Service photographer with the United States Engineer’s office, where he documented construction work. After a brief stint in New York working for the Vogue magazine studios, he became Assistant Photographer at the National Archives in Washington, USA. In 1946, Laughlin returned to New Orleans. His architectural studies of antebellum plantation homes, published as Ghosts Along the Mississippi, brought him acclaim, and in the 1950s he focused on homes of the late 1800s. Laughlin’s best-known work belongs to the series he titled Poems of the Interior World, aligning his passion for literature with his lyrical, psychologically charged visual representations. He stopped photographing in 1967 because of crippling arthritis and began to catalogue his carefully documented 17,051 image collection.