When I moved to Atlanta in the fall of 1977 to begin my career, first as a failed ad salesman, then as a failed hotel desk clerk and eventually as a failed newspaper writer, I would start my day with the Atlanta paper.
The first thing I would notice was the photography and the images that always struck me were invariably taken by Louie Favorite.
He captured the defining moment in a scene and his photographs resonated off the page and pulled me into stories I may have otherwise missed. His camera was an extension of his heart and his images brought to life simple details others missed.
Eventually, after all else failed, I became a photographer. While on assignment for the local neighbor newspaper I ran into Louie: What to say? How to act? My fears were immediately put to rest by this warm, generous and humble soul. I found out that photographer and ego were not necessarily married and he became the first mentor in my chosen craft.
These are not good days for newspapers and the Atlanta paper has been losing gifted writers, editors, artists, critics and, of course, photographers. Atlantans lose with each staff member that goes, and our stories are left to be told by others.
I have lost other friends at the paper, but, in these brief words, I want to honor the work that Louie gave the city. He shared his vision each day with thousands of readers who understood Atlanta and the world just a little better because they could see it through Louie’s eyes.
This is his last day at the paper. He held on but the writing was on the wall and he took the latest buy-out. The paper will lose a touch of its soul when Louie walks out the door and we will miss an eye, as we say in the business, that looked beyond the city and into its heart.
And a postscript: The person most responsible for my limited ability to write left the paper with an earlier buy-out. A gifted writer, editor and encourager, Keith Graham mentors countless reporters and I was lucky when I started my career to be taken under his wing.
The newspaper’s loss has been our gain. With an abundance of free time suddenly foisted upon him, he, along with Lee Leslie’s internet savvy, created Like the Dew. As more long time journalists leave the paper, I am sure we will see a new wave of creativity in Atlanta.
Photographs: top, an image Louie calls “Metaphor for Marriage”; one of the Atlanta Zoo’s favorite residents; an Iraqi being interviewed during Louie’s coverage of the war for the paper; and high school football (and lawnmower) practice.