This wasn’t supposed to happen. My friends are turning 60. Of course, I’ve known people who are sixty before. I called them “parents,”  or sometimes they were friends of my parents, or my doctor or a professor or a retired person who trudged around the neighborhood with a cane and sometimes I even liked those people, but they weren’t what I would call friends.

When I started my career as a photographer there was one person working for the Atlanta papers who I looked up to, (later I discovered he was a little shorter than I was, but I still looked up to him) Louie Favorite. I first met him while shooting some high school sports event and instead of being cocky and arrogant (two adjectives often associated with my profession) he was warm, generous and kind to this fledgling shutterbug.

His work inspired me and he became the first mentor in a profession I have enjoyed for the past 30 years. Recently retired from the paper, Louie spent his career visually telling us the stories of our city. I now, humbly, will try and sum up this artist in flawed language with rhymes that don’t quite rhyme and a meter and syntax that will be a mystery to English majors:

Who would have thought in the way back of then,
that our Louie Favorite would turn six times ten.
His camera attached like a part of his body
from which he takes pictures that aren’t at all shoddy

Shooting great pictures is not all that’s cool:
Louie is also quite good at pool.
While some people used to put hair in a locket,
Louie likes playing with balls in a pocket.

Add on to these skills the guitar that he rocks with
Rock and roll songs that he constantly focks with:
Indeed, our Louie’s a real guitar hero
And often is seen with guitar and a beer-o.

We loved him back then and now love him still
And not just because he knows how to grill,
although it’s been said that we’d commit murder
just for the chance to eat Louie’s burger.

Chocolate, strawberry, apple pie,
if Louie don’t get dessert he’ll cry.
The Krispy Kreme number? He’ll phone it!
For delivery of a hot gooey doughnut!

Suave and debonair and with a quick wit,
his humor is harmless and don’t hurt a bit.
The best part of Louie, of course is his Vicky
Who married him despite the fact that she’s picky.

A daughter in college a dog in the house,
life has been good for him and his spouse.
An artist, a comic, a friend of us all
Happy Birthday dear Louie, YOU’RE OLD NOW, DON’T FALL!

Author’s note: The editor of first heard this poem after ingesting a quantity of fermented barley and hops and his judgment may have been inspired by the chemical process of these products upon what is left of his gray matter.

Artwork by artist/musician Vernon Carne. For your listening pleasure, visit his music at:

Billy Howard

Billy Howard

Billy Howard is a commercial and documentary photographer with an emphasis on education and global health.

  1. Just spent a delightful evening with Louie and a host of other fugitives from the AJC at — where else? — Manuel’s! Everything you say is true. He is truly our Favorite Louie. Kenneth Walker was there and related a story about his introduction to Louie late one night — Louie loaned him a lens. That sums Louie up in a nutshell: kind, generous, everything done with a smile.

  2. Keith Graham

    Happy birthday to Louie. And, Billy, after reading this, I’m wondering why W. S. Merwin was just named the next U.S. poet laureate instead of you?????

  3. Thanks for leading us into the next decade, Louie. I’ve always said (and I’m sure not originally) that you were my Favorite photographer. Happy 60th…

  4. That’s my new favorite poem. Thanks for reminding us about a great guy.

    Long Beach, California

  5. Thanks Billy,
    Everything you say about Louie is so true and so much more. A belated Happy Birthday to Louie and 60 aint all that bad.

  6. Mary Kay Andrews

    Louie, Louie! My all-time favorite photog travelling companion–we did Florida tourist traps, we did Graceland, and yes, we did Orlando, where I got salmonella poisoning and you went out for a morning run! I forgive ya, and love ya, and can’t quite believe you’re 60. All best wishes, my friend!

  7. Thanks for the poem, Billy, and a great big happy birthday to Louie.

  8. You have never, ever, been a shutterbug! I loved this!

  9. Billy you prove that photographers really are nice folks. Louie became a friend one cold night at Barron Stadium in Rome, GA in the 80’s. That photographer from the AJC covering the state football finals didn’t just nod at that guy from the local paper, he took time to make small talk. Louie if you’re listening: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

  10. Janet Ward

    Happy birthday, Louie! And, Billy, wow, just wow. Lovely tribute to one hell of a guy — and photographer.

  11. Happy birthday, Louie! You were one of the people who made my 14 years at the AJC a great experience.

  12. Louie, Louie,

    Thanks for leading the way to sixty. I am right behind you. Perhaps a celebration at The Clermont is in order?

    Billy, you are a man of many talents.

  13. Your photos always made my stories better looking, Louie. Many more happy years to you.

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