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O. 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.

His 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.

So 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 French Quarter.

This 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.

LSU Baton Rouge
Shrimp Boats
Rice Harvesting
Bee Insemination