Clarence John Laughlin was born today, August 14th 1905, and in his eighty years of life and art became known as the “Haunter of Ruins” and “Edgar Allen Poe with a camera.” Over the course of his career it is estimated that he produced 17,000 negatives. His subject matter was often the weathered buildings and cemeteries of his native south, particularly New Orleans, the French Quarter, and the antebellum plantations of Louisiana. A prolific writer as well, his earliest literary influences were derived from French symbolism, a motif that can be seen in his photography.
While there is a certain romantic, almost nostalgic approach, in his work that is reminiscent of Eugène Atget, many credit him as being the first, and foremost, American surrealist photographer. His best known collection of photographs, published in 1948 as Ghosts Along the Mississippi, is still sought after by serious collectors.