Winston Link, a Brooklyn native, is best known for his breathtaking
black and white images of the Norfolk and Western Railway taken during
the last days of steam from 1955 to 1960. Unlike other railroad photographers
who focused on the locomotive, Link included the folks along the railway,
the "regular people," in his photos. In many of his more
memorable images, it is these people and their everyday activities
which stand out, not the locomotive, which appears almost as an afterthought.
At first, one viewing such an image may overlook the locomotive, only
to later notice its wheels and drivers through the window of a house
or store as it hurries by.
By the time Link began his Norfolk and Western project in 1955,
he was already an established commercial photographer with a client
list including Amoco, United Gas, U.S. Steel, Volkswagen, Shell
Oil, Texaco, Popular Science, Willys Overland, and Goodyear. But
eighteen years earlier, in 1937, he was fresh out of The Polytechnic
Institute of Brooklyn with a degree in Civil Engineering and looking
for a job, not the easiest prospect in depression-era America.
first job, which Link said he was fortunate to land when there were
so many out of work, was with Carl Byoir and Associates, a Manhattan-based
public relations firm. Little was required, however, of his engineering
knowledge. It was his photographic and darkroom skills he had been
honing for several years which kept him employed. His first major
assignment was to photograph part of the state of Louisiana, one
of Byoir's clients.
it was off to Louisiana in the summer of 1937, where Link found
the contrast between Brooklyn and South Louisiana could not have
been greater. One of his first stops was in New Iberia, where he
photographed the filming of Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer,
a film about Jean Lafitte. While on the movie set, he met Vanda
Marteal Oglesby, a former Miss Ark-La-Tex living in Algiers, who
was doubling for Hungarian Franciska Gaal, who had the lead female
role. One could say that Winston and Marteal "took a shine"
to one another, and he convinced her to meet him in New Orleans
later that year to be his model in photographs to be taken in the
collection is an incredible variety of Louisiana subjects: alligator
hunting, cotton, rice harvesting, shrimping, oil prospecting, bee
insemination, Governor Richard Leche's Party for Farmers and Yacht
Party for Governors, and a captivating 21-image series featuring
young women arriving as new students at Louisiana State University
in Baton Rouge.