Chiles Larson '53: Seven decades of suspending action| March 31, 2010
The following article originally appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of the William & Mary Alumni Magazine - Ed.
Although his full-time career was primarily in public relations, television news and advertising, Chiles T.A. Larson '53 has put just as much time and creativity into his avocation and first love - photography.
On April 5, the exhibition "Wisdom, Wonderment and Humor: A Retrospective of the Work of Chiles Larson, Photographer Extraordinaire" will open in the Botetourt Gallery of the Swem Library.
Larson, a longtime contributor to the Alumni Magazine, had his first photo published in a major newspaper at the age of 11, because he was fortunate to have the right connection. His dad, RKT "Kit" Larson, was an editor for the Virginian-Pilot at the time. In the late 1940s, Larson worked as a staff photographer for the paper. Above is a photo of Larson on assignment in Norfolk, Va., in 1947.
Some of the other images that will be on display in Swem include a July 4, 1951 award-winning photograph, "Storm Ends Holiday", which shows hundreds of bathers leaving the beach after a powerful Nor'easter struck. An image of the Varina-Enon Bridge over the James River was taken in the mid-1990s and highlights the range of subjects that Larson has captured.
One memorable event for Larson occurred during Marilyn Monroe's February 1954 visit to entertain the troops in Korea. He says it shows the photographer's eternal need to be resourceful. When Larson and his buddies arrived at the airfield where Monroe was to land, the tarmac, with a strip of red carpet, was packed on both sides with thousands of GIs. "After her plane landed, we decided to become a part of the official ramp movers, placing us ahead of even the news media for our shots," recalls Larson. For that, he was rewarded with the great close-up image shown bottom left.
The exhibit will close on May 28. For more information, please contact Bea Hardy, director of the Special Collections Research Center, at email@example.com or 757.221.3054.