We greatly appreciate Ludwig Photography for hosting an open house featuring over a century of their family’s photography of the Laramie and Southeast Wyoming area. This free event runs from 10 AM – noon on Saturday, May 31 and is a neat opportunity to experience the history of Laramie up close.
The open house is one of many events during the Food + Photo Festival in Laramie May 30 & 31. Other events include:
Friday, May 30 — Free Open House, Alice Hardie Stevens Center: View photography submitted in the photo competition 7-10 PM
Saturday, May 31 — Free Open House, Historic Laramie Photography — Ludwig Photography: 10 AM – Noon
Saturday, May 31 — Learn How Altitude Makes a Great Local Beer + Beer Tasting — Altitude Chophouse & Brewery: 2-3 PM $15/ticket
Saturday, May 31 — Wine Tasting — Laramie Country Club: 7-10 PM $30/ticket
We were lucky to feature Ludwig’s story in our Sprinter 2014 issue of Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine. Below are some excerpts from the article showcasing the family’s story…
On a September day in 1905, photographer Henning Svenson stepped off the train in Laramie. Inspired by the West and looking for adventure, Svenson arrived in the frontier town with one dollar in his pocket and a quest to open a photography studio. The opportunities Wyoming offers to reinvent one’s self are not available elsewhere; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that was even more the case than it is today. Svenson’s road to Laramie was not direct, however. Born in Kiel, Germany on July 16, 1879, Svenson served as a photographic apprentice to Ferdinand Urbahns from 1895-98. This was followed by work in retouching in Lausanne, Switzerland and Paris. Svenson attended the World’s Fair in Paris, where he met Amy DuPont, who encouraged him to come to work in her New York City studio. In 1902, Svenson immigrated to the United States, and created portraits of DuPont’s New York clientele before joining his brother in Iowa. The two brothers opened a photography studio, with Henning later setting out to open a branch out west. He traveled first to Denver, but found the city didn’t suit him; he boarded a train north, and the rest is history – well-photographed history, to be exact.
Svenson established a solid clientele and a reputation as the premier photography studio in the region. Henning and Marie’s family also grew to include three daughters, Helen, Aneleas and Lottie. The Chauncey Root Building burnt to the ground (with Svenson injured in the blaze) in 1910 due to a boiler explosion. The studio relocated to 314 South Second Street, above a pool hall, until Svenson built his permanent location on the corner of Third Street & Ivinson (where the studio sits today).
“My great-grandfather was unique in that he empowered his daughters to be a part of the family business,” Brande, who is the current owner of the family business, says. All three of Svenson’s daughters attended the University of Wyoming and worked in the studio. The older sisters became film developers; Lottie’s talent was capturing images alongside her father. Svenson Photography created tens of thousands of regional images annually, many used for postcards, father and daughter equally responsible for the work. Sadly, Henning Svenson died in 1932 at the age of 52 from lung complications, his daughters assuming the role of studio ownership and operations.
Eldest daughter Helen was the first to assume ownership of the studio. Lottie Svenson married Walter “Doc” Ludwig, and in 1943 the couple purchased the studio from Helen, renaming it Ludwig Photo Enterprises. Lottie played an equal and important role in the studio alongside her husband. “My grandmother was a progressive woman,” Brande says with a smile. “She raced motorcycles, wore pants, and even broke horses when she was a kid.”
Walter and Lottie Ludwig had one daughter, Carol, who had a sense of adventure like her mother and grandfather before her. In the 1940s, the family acquired a ranch on the Wyoming/Colorado border, and Carol embraced a love of ranching life and the West. She served as Miss Laramie Jubilee Days 1961 and first runner-up to Miss Rodeo Wyoming. She was one of the first women to climb Devils Tower, competed in slalom and was a ski instructor at Winter Park, using folk singing to finance her skiing obsession.
Carol married Bill Loyer, Ludwig Photo Enterprises’s Kodak Eastman representative at the time. The two honeymooned through Europe for a month before settling in New Jersey. However, the love of Wyoming called them home, and the two opened a studio branch in Cheyenne, working alongside Carol’s parents in the Laramie branch. The couple grew the business into a regional hub for both portrait photography and film developing. In 2005, 100 years after Svenson opened his studio, the Loyers’ daughter, Anne Brande, purchased the Laramie branch. Today, Brande focuses her business, Ludwig Photography, on capturing emotional portraiture of the individuals she not only counts as clients, but as friends.
The legacy of Henning Svenson lives on in the tens of thousands of priceless photos created by him and his descendants. For over 100 years, Anne Brande’s family has documented the growth and transformation of a frontier town in a romantic era. As she flipped through a series of prints during my interview, the flux between the Old West and the modern era was glaringly obvious. For example, one 1920s era photo of Second Street in Downtown Laramie showed a street full of Ford Model T’s and similar vehicles, both parked and driving – with a gentleman riding a horse right alongside them on the street.
“What I really love about Henning’s photography is that it was not staged,” Brande says. “He had a love of the West, but also an appreciation for industrialization and modern elements. He’d often image these two elements side-by-side, just as they appeared in real life.” Brande and I mused about the horse and rider in the image – this was no parade, this was an average day in Laramie in the 1920s. Did the rider refuse to give up his horse for an automobile? Could he not afford one? Or was he terrified at the thought of operating a piece of machinery versus relying upon his horse? When your rapidly changing world allows for both animal and machine to coexist, how does one process that transformation? Henning Svenson captured this and thousands of other moments like these – individuals who had witnessed the West, and were now standing by while it changed before their very eyes. His images helped me understand the gravity of living in a rapidly changing world. Often times I think that our world today is rapidly changing, however when I consider the flux my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents witnessed, I can appreciate the emotion of their experience.
With the historic significance of her family’s collection in mind, Brande has donated portions of the images to the American Heritage Center, a part of the University of Wyoming. The first half was valued at over $2 million, with another large portion recently appraised for almost $500,000 by Penelope Dixon & Associates. “I’ve been told that our collection is the only of its kind in the world both on a fine art basis and a social context,” Brande says. “It’s so vast and covers over 104 years and spans four generations, while also being well catalogued. It’s a very rare find.” The American Heritage Center’s collection of over 4,000 images can be viewed under ‘Ludwig-Svenson Studio Collection’ in the digital collections section on the AHC website. (uwyo.edu/ahc)
Brande and her family’s century of images have been a part of numerous projects throughout the years: from historical research to exhibits, from books and magazines to film. Ludwig Photography of Laramie and Portrait Artist Anne Brande continue to create emotional heirlooms for their clients, continuing the family tradition into the 21st century. Visit ludwigphoto.com or visit the studio at 224 Ivinson Avenue in Downtown Laramie to meet Anne.