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C.C. Lockwood: Putting his stamp on history

C.C. Lockwood: Putting his stamp on history

Since C.C. Lockwood graduated with Southside High School's class of 1967 in Fort Smith, he has become a world-class nature photographer, author, teacher and a bona fide "Louisiana Legend" who has helped save one of his adopted state's most precious ecological resources, the Atchafalaya Swamp.


But this month, Lockwood can enjoy a new honor - the formal unveiling of his Atchafalaya "Flat Lake Sunset" photograph chosen by the U.S. Postal Service as the image for a first-class Forever Stamp commemorating the 200th anniversary of Louisiana becoming the nation's 18th state.

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Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has said, "C.C. Lockwood always provides a unique view of Louisiana's fascinating landscape and his photograph is a fitting tribute to Louisiana's 200 years as the Sportsman's Paradise."


Before Lockwood attends the formal presentation of a 5-by-7-foot picture of the commemorative stamp to legislators at the state Capitol on April 30, however, he plans to visit his nearest post office.


"I'll have to be there as soon as the post office opens to buy First Day of Issue stamps," Lockwood said.


Many of his purchases of the collectible stamps and postmarked envelopes will be made for family and friends but some will be included with framed prints of the statehood bicentennial stamp photo offered for sale on his website.


When asked how his photo was selected, Lockwood said he was contacted three years ago by an agency the Postal Service uses to find images for stamps.


"They found me," Lockwood explained during a recent telephone interview. "They asked me to send them copies of my photographs I thought they would like. I sent them 10."


The image chosen was of a sunset on Flat Lake framed by several moss-draped bald cypress trees that can live 100 or more years in the waters of the Atchafalaya Basin - the largest contiguous river swamp in the United States.


"That's my iconic image of the Atchafalaya and Louisiana's natural history - my ultimate Louisiana swamp photo," Lockwood said. "It was included in my first book (Atchafalaya, America's Largest River Basin Swamp, LSU Press, 1981), so I was a little surprised by their choice. It's quite an honor to have a picture of my favorite place associated with Louisiana's celebration of 200 years of statehood."


Lockwood said he spent about eight years - in all four seasons each year, at the very same spot - trying to capture the perfect light and composition for a photo that finally satisfied him.


Photographs and a movie Lockwood made of the swamp between 1975 to 1977 helped convince Louisiana legislators, residents and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the Atchafalaya Basin was too ecologically important to the rapidly vanishing Gulf Coast wetlands to be destroyed by the Corps plans to drain and channel the swamp.


He was assisted in making his movie by another noted wildlife and nature photographer, childhood friend Marty Stouffer Jr. Stouffer is best known for creating one of the longest-running television series on PBS - Wild America.


Lockwood grew up near Stouffer, who shared Lockwood's interest in photographing nature and wild animals.


"Marty raised an abandoned wolf cub in a pen in his family's pasture and Clyde (C.C.) raised a coyote cub in our backyard," recalled C.C.'s father, Dr. Frank Lockwood. "Right after they graduated from Southside, they went out west together to take nature and wildlife photographs."


"I had a Kodak Instamatic. Marty had a Super 8 movie camera of some sort," C.C. Lockwood remembered. "My first published photos were pictures of bighorn sheep and of Marty and I photographing them for Airstream Caravanner Magazine."


After the boys came back from their summer adventure, Lockwood left for Baton Rouge, where he was enrolled at Louisiana State University. "And he has never come back home since then, except to visit," his dad noted.


Lockwood began his studies as an architecture major, then switched to pre-med, then accounting, then art. Four years and four summer schools later, he graduated from LSU with an accounting degree - and 64 extra hours of credits.


Obviously a man of many interests and talents, Lockwood has excelled most in photography, a field in which he said he is mainly self-taught, except for a darkroom course, working for a year "in the West" and taking part of a semester in photography and journalism at East Texas State University.


Lockwood and his wife, Sue, live on a sustainable farm outside Baton Rouge with two sons, ages 8 and 11, and a flock of free-range chickens. He has more than a dozen published books featuring his photography and environmental research in places as diverse as the Gulf Coast, the Yucatan Peninsula, the Grand Canyon and the Mississippi River from its origin in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. His honors include the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography and the Louisiana Legend Award bestowed by the Louisiana Broadcasting Association.


And on April 30, one of Lockwood's favorite photographs can be seen anywhere in the world a letter bearing the Louisiana bicentennial U.S. postage stamp can be delivered.

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