Remembering Carnival photographer Ray Cresson


by Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News

Posted on January 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 18 at 1:22 AM

Ray Cresson, the photographer and former K&B Camera Center manager, whose photographs documented all aspects of New Orleans culture, from Carnival to celebrities at the Blue Room, died Friday. He was 92.

One of Mr. Cresson’s 1947 Mardi Gras photographs has been reproduced countless times and stands as an iconic glimpse of Carnival in the 1940s. It shows two masked revelers on Canal St., seemingly oblivious to the newspaper headline being displayed in the hands of two other revelers – “Rex Rules Today.”
“Everything’s captured in that picture, that one picture,” Mr. Cresson said of his famous photo, in a 2005 interview with WWL-TV’s Frank Davis.
“That’s a good picture,” Mr. Cresson said quietly and humbly. 
It was one of the thousands of photographs Mr. Cresson snapped of Carnival on Canal St. during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
In the 2005 profile, Cresson told Davis he first began dabbling in photography in 1938. Interrupted by World War II, his career would include more than 50 years as manager of the K&B Camera Center on Canal St. The store was a favorite of budding photographers, and known for offering all manner of camera and photo supplies, as well as photo developing.
Mr. Cresson would also become the official photographer for the nearby Roosevelt Hotel. His job there put him in contact with hundreds of celebrities who stayed at the hotel and performed in the famed Blue Room supper club. His photographs formed an invaluable archive of New Orleans nightlife at the time.

One of Mr. Cresson’s two brothers, Russell Cresson, was also a staff photographer at Loyola University for many years.
Mr. Cresson is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be said Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. Visitation will be from noon until service time.