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Exhibit focuses on work of Lethbridge Herald photographers

Posted on April 4, 2024 by admin

By Delon Shurtz
Southern Alberta Newspapers

On a wall in the Galt Museum hangs a photo of former Lethbridge mayor A. W. Shackleford. He’s holding two microphones and appears to be falling backward while two men try to help.

Shackleford was about to introduce Teen Queen Donna Glock and runner-up Shirley Parkinson at a Valentine Dance in 1953, but when he grabbed both microphones he was instantly shocked because the wires were improperly grounded. The current flowed into his body and froze his hands to the microphones until the power was turned off.

The photograph, taken by F. Orville Brunelle of the Lethbridge Herald, appeared in 1,300 magazines and newspapers all over the world, and Brunelle won the 1953 Canadian Press Picture Service award for Best Picture of the Year.

On another wall of the museum is a photograph of a Canadian Airforce F18 jet plummeting to the ground during the 2010 airshow at the Lethbridge Airport, for which Herald photographer Ian Martens won a National Newspaper Award. Just a few feet further along the wall is a photo of an industrial fire at Willow Creek Sand and Gravel that shows a firefighter amidst the intense flames of a burning tractor tire. Herald photographer at the time, David Rossiter, was nominated for a National Newspaper Award for that photo.

The pictures are part of the Galt Museum’s newest exhibit, Extra! Extra! The Eras of Photojournalism in Lethbridge.

“This is an exhibit on the history of photojournalism in Lethbridge, and there’s a focus on the Lethbridge Herald, as the four earliest photographers were from the Lethbridge Herald,” Tess McNaughton, guest curator at the museum, said Feb. 21 during a preview of the exhibit.

“Originally this was an online exhibit curated by Bobbie Fox, and it covered four different photographers: Lloyd Knight, Orville Brunelle, Ian Martens and David Rossiter.”

When McNaughton turned the online exhibit into a physical one, she split it up into four eras: the analog era (film and photography); the transitional era (from film to digital photography); photographers and photojournalism; and the digital era, focusing mainly on digital photography and photojournalism.

“I think newspapers are definitely changing right now, the news is changing, and a lot of it is online and a lot of it is moving quickly, so putting a highlight on the past of photojournalism is really important.”

Fox developed the online exhibit during COVID-19 to keep people engaged with the museum and archives, and with some 100,000 photos from the Lethbridge Herald in the archives, an exhibit of the history of photojournalism seemed a natural fit.

“The Lethbridge Herald, of course, is very prolific in our journalism and media landscape…so it just made sense to kind of go through and look at the evolution of how those pictures were being taken,” Fox said.

Because of the immensity of trying to create an exhibit from thousands of photographs, Fox decided to focus on the four most prolific Herald photographers.

“They are all award-winning photographers in their own right, and they have come up with some amazing, amazing photographs that we’re lucky enough to have a lot of in our collection.”

Fox said McNaughton turned the online exhibit, which can still be viewed on the Galt’s website, into an amazing physical exhibit, which, she said, emphasizes the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

In addition to the four photographers and their photographs on display, the exhibit also includes two other journalists: Alejandra Pulido-Guzman, a reporter/photographer with the Lethbridge Herald, and Ose Irete, a video journalist with CBCs Lethbridge bureau.

“I really wanted to emphasize their stories because I love their photography and their photojournalism, and also they are voices that are under-represented in newspapers and photojournalism,” McNaughton said.

“I wanted to give a well-rounded view of what photojournalism looks like today. I think they both have an eye for photos which varies from the other four photographers.”

She said she chose Irete because he is the only photojournalist for CBC Lethbridge, and she chose Pulido-Guzman because “she has such an important journey and really shows the present photojournalist experience.”

The exhibit opened Feb. 24 and runs until Aug. 4.

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