The SFA was saddened to hear that noted Southern photographer, Al Clayton, passed away this week in Tennessee. Trained as a medical photographer and photojournalist, Clayton appeared on the national scene in 1967 after his photographs of poverty in the South were presented at a hearing on Capitol Hill. They served as inspiration for the passing of the Food Stamp Act. Senator Edward Kennedy credited Clayton’s “sensitive camera” for exposing government officials to America’s stark realities. In 2006, NPR interviewed him when he was retired and living in Jasper, Georgia–excerpts of his interview and photographs are here.
Born in Etowah, Tenn., in 1934, Clayton came to Nashville in 1965 to work for the Illustration Design Group. He was close with SFA founding cornerstone John Egerton, working with him on the landmark book Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History. His obituary, written by his nephew and published in Nashville Scene, appeared this morning. He will be missed.