Photographer Al McLaughlin, instrumental in bringing color photos to the pages of The Oklahoman and training others nationwide to do the same, died Tuesday evening. He was 92.
Doug Hoke, current director of photography at The Oklahoman, who started at the newspaper in December 1976 and worked under McLaughlin, said, “Al was the best boss I've ever had. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time. Nor that I was learning how to run a photo department through his example.”
“Al was amazingly generous and influenced myself and many photojournalists starting their careers serving as our mentor,” said Oklahoman staff photographer Paul Southerland. “As an innovator in newspaper color photo printing he was a meticulous photographer that strived not only for the perfect photo but also the best reproduction possible in a daily newspaper.”
Alfred Willis McLaughlin was born April 27, 1921, in Oklahoma City. McLaughlin graduated from Classen High School and then attended the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University.
While at OU he did all the yearbook pictures for Classen High School and while at OCU he was a staff photographer for the university newspaper and yearbooks and did all publicity for the university's administration.
McLaughlin was a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant and chief of the photo lab at Enid Air Force Base for three years. In addition to teaching more than 500 service personnel to use cameras, he produced a weekly newspaper for which pictures, editing and layout talents were required.
His experience also included aerial photography.
McLaughlin, who was named to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, joined The Oklahoman in 1942. He became chief photographer.
The personable Oklahoman was also a sought-after journalism and photo journalism expert, having taught classes at The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Oscar Rose Junior College, and Northwest Classen High School. For three years, McLaughlin also was chairman of an Oklahoma Press Association Photo workshop for photographers from state newspapers. His many lecturing and panel appearances included the Rochester (N.Y.) Photo Conference, the American Press Institute at Columbia University, the National Newspaper Production Association in Chicago and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo.
McLaughlin's work earned numerous awards, including National Women's Page Photographer of the Year in 1969 at the University of Missouri and first place in picture layout in the National Women's Page Photographer Competition. And, he claimed third in the National Press Photographers Association Traveling Show that toured the United States.