- Associated Press - Sunday, September 10, 2017

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - At 91, world-renowned photographer and Shreveporter Jack Barham still smokes his characteristic pipe.

His blue eyes still dance with mirth when he details hanging out with Elvis, befriending John Wayne or watching the famous Apollo launches.

And despite a current battle with throat cancer, he still laughs heartily when remembering escapades from decades spent as a breaking news photographer for the now-closed Shreveport Journal.

He traveled to more than 20 countries, covered the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, and had his work published in World Book, the Associated Press and National Geographic.

But for Barham, Shreveport will always be home.

“I’ve always wanted to stay in Shreveport. I wouldn’t leave when the AP, the Houston Chronicle wanted me to move,” he said. “I’ve always loved Shreveport. I still love Shreveport.”

Locally, he was awarded the Associated Press Managing Editors Association award in the A.P. News and News Photo category for his photos of a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed 17 people on March 4, 1965. His work also has been recognized by the Shreveport Historic Preservation Society and the State of Louisiana Executive Department of Government.

Sitting in a light-filled room, surrounded by newspaper clippings, framed photographs and books, Barham seemed surprised to find out he had touched the lives of many, many people on his journey.

One of those people is Mike Mangham, one of the photographers behind Twin Blends, a local effort that creates new photographs by blending the past and the present into a single image.

“He’s a wonderful man, and his eyes light up when talking about his famous friends,” Mangham said. “That guy is world famous and he is right here, from Shreveport. It’s cool that he started out at the Journal.”

When told about Mangham’s open admiration, Barham laughed.

“They’re pretty good themselves,” he said with a chuckle.

Barham donated more than 30,000 of his photographs to the LSUS Archives at the Noel Memorial Library upon his retirement. Archivist Laura McLemore said the area is “blessed” for both Barham’s talent and his donation.

“We are very fortunate to have them because they go back to the early 1940s, and they’re really just a wonderful way of documenting history in a way that anyone can understand,” McLemore said.

Richard Barham, Jack Barham’s son, said he enjoyed growing up with a famous father who took him to events such as the Apollo launch and whose schedule kept life exciting.

“He was a news photographer, so we might be on our way to church and end up at a car crash fatality,” Richard Barham said.

Thomas “Jack” Barham shared details of his life’s legacy with The Times in late August.

I went to elementary school in Oak Ridge, Louisiana. My science teacher took a coat room and turned it into a darkroom, and that was how I learned about photography. Since I was 14 years old, I’ve never had to ask for a job. People have always come to me and offered.

I graduated from Byrd High School, and my mom wouldn’t let me join the Air Force so I joined the Coast Guard. They sent me to a (Landing Ship Tank) that had a photo lab (laughs). When I came back from World War II, I wasn’t in Shreveport but for three days when the (Shreveport) Journal called me and wanted me to work for them.

Elvis and I were real close friends. I met him on the first night of the Louisiana Hayride and we really hit it off. He even reserved a hotel room for us to hang when he was in Monroe, but I said, “Elvis, I can’t make it, I’m leaving at 6 a.m. with Neil Armstrong and we’re going to Africa.” (Laughs)

I also met Bob Hope, because as a photographer, I was able to go back stage to take photos. We went to Ernest’s (Gourmet in Shreveport), and he liked the crab claws so much he had Ernest send them over.

Another time John Wayne called me and said, “Jack, meet me at the airport. I am fixing to shoot a movie in Natchitoches and I don’t want anyone to shoot my publicity stuff but you.”

I went to Belize, to shoot after Belize got its freedom. While I was there, World Book called and they said, “Run across the border and get some pictures in Guatemala.” So I had to get a driver to go over there, and I took some shots of the Mayan ruins.

Once I also went to cover a solar eclipse off Iceland. We went on a cruise ship.

I was also at Guadalcanal and Okinawa. I was there when the bomb dropped and the end of the war. People were being killed. I survived because I was back at the LST developing pictures.

The Apollo launch, I really enjoyed that. It was a lot of work, setting up the lights and cameras, but I really enjoyed the Apollo most of all the work I’ve done.

I’ve always had a good relationship with LSU and I like the way they handle the photographs. I want them to stay in the community. It was the best thing to do.

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