Louisiana Lens: A Visual Journey

Louisiana Lens Book Cover
Louisiana Lens Book

From Daguerreotypes to Digital: A Visual Journey Through Louisiana with John Lawrence

Discover the captivating history of Louisiana through a camera lens in John Lawrence’s new book. From the elegant autochrome process to the timeless allure of Mardi Gras, these photographs transport you to a bygone era. Now, after four decades of curating historic New Orleans photographs, he unveils Louisiana Lens, a captivating book that takes you on an immersive journey through time.

In this episode of Final Cuts, host Mark Bologna sits down with John Lawrence, the former curator of the Historic New Orleans Collection’s photography holdings. Lawrence recently released a book called Louisiana Lens, which showcases a hundred photographs from the collection.

Lawrence’s passion for photography led him to become the curator of photographs, shaping the growth of the collection over the years. The goal of his book was to select 100 photographs that represent the development of photographic technology and offer individual interpretations to each viewer.

Through images accompanied by narratives, the book allows readers to explore the multilayered nature of each photograph, weaving together the immutable characteristics of the image, its historical context, and the personal interpretation of the viewer.

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply interested in the history of Louisiana, this episode provides a deeper understanding of the state’s rich history through the lens of photography. So grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and dive into the captivating world of Louisiana’s history through the camera lens.

A photograph needs to be appreciated for what it was then at that moment, but also through the lens of today. – John Lawrence


The Historic New Orleans Collection

Support comes from The Historic New Orleans Collection, the city’s premiere history museum, located at five twenty Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter. 

Check out their online publication called First Draft. Its’ a combination blog and online exhibition space. hnoc.org/firstdraft

Through November 5, 2023, check out  their exhibit about women’s right to vote. Titled, “Yet She Is Advancing”: New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote, 1878–1970 

The 19th amendment granted American women the right to vote, in 1920,  but Louisiana laws effectively disenfranchised Black women. 

As many white women began going to the polls and increasing their political participation in segregation-era New Orleans, African American women continued to fight for access to the ballot.

This exhibit tells a decades-long story through objects, images, documents, and interactive displays—and through the words of the New Orleans women who for nearly 100 years persisted in their struggle to obtain the vote.

As always, the Historic New Orleans Collection is free. It’s somehow continues to fly under the radar, but should not be missed.

Go to HNOC.org/Visit to plan your trip.

Accidental Cajun Photography

If you own a copy of the Beyond Bourbon St travel guide, you’ve seen the work of James Cullen of Accidental Cajun Photography.

Whether it’s portraits, events, weddings or lifestyle or photojournalism, Accidental Cajun Photography provides quality and value.

James also offers photography instruction and sells his fine art prints at TheAccidentalCajun.com. For inquiries email at accidentalcajun@gmail.com.

Thank You

Thanks to John Lawrence for joining me today, and to Dave Walker at the Historic New Orleans Collection for making the connection. Thanks also to our podcast editor Joel Sharpton from Pro Podcast Services. 

Subscribe to the Podcast

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Purchase our Travel Guide to New Orleans

Did you know I wrote a book. The Beyond Bourbon Street Insider’s Guide to New Orleans is your curated guide to exploring the city as if you were my guest. To discover purchase options, click here.


New Orleans is so much more than the Bourbon Street scenes you may have seen–– it’s a 300-year-old city made up of vibrant neighborhoods, diverse populations, and traditions layered upon each other.
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