The critically acclaimed, post-Katrina photographs of LSU Photography Professor Emeritus Thomas Neff are featured prominently in a new book that is published this month on the fifth anniversary of the storm.
Before During After, published by UNO Press, is a collection of 12 Louisiana photographers’ visual reactions to Hurricane Katrina, and how the catastrophe changed their lives and their works. The book emphasizes not only the effect Katrina has had on these photographers but also the way individuals are influenced by their environments, particularly in times of dramatic upheaval.
Seven of Neff’s dramatic, black and white images are featured in the book. For weeks after Katrina, he traveled to New Orleans and chronicled, through both essays and images, the stories of stalwart New Orleanians who chose to stay behind in the flood-ravaged city in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Those images were first exhibited at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and later appeared in Neff’s book, Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina, which was published by the University of Missouri Press in 2007.
Before During After also includes two of Neff’s earlier photographs, when he was documenting the rapidly disappearing single-family farms in Colorado. Like his photographs from south Louisiana, they follow the same theme of people and place that have shaped his work for the past four decades.
“The earlier work informed my effort during Katrina in the stylistic manner in which I work, but also with the certainty that written narratives would provide meaningful context for the portraits in addition to telling a story,” Neff says.
Neff is also included in an exhibition that opened this month at the Hammond Regional Arts Center and features a traveling version of his original Ogden exhibit from 2006. Entitled “Of Culture and Community,” the exhibition features photographs by Neff, Susan Hayre Thelwell and John Edwards. It runs through August 30, with an opening reception on August 13 from 7-9 PM. For more information call (985)-542-7113 or go to www.myhammond.com/arts.