May 25--Much of the history of Maury County from the early 1900s to 2011 has been preserved through the photographic lens of W.A. Orman, his son Buster Orman and Ray Burt. W.A. Orman was the original owner of Orman Studio.
The photography business was started by W.A. Orman in 1948 in the old Bethel Hotel basement which had a dirt floor. Ray went to work for W.A. Orman when he was 17 years old.
"At that time, it was just a hobby for Ray," recalled Mrs. Jessie Burt as she reminisced about her 58 years of marriage to the late Ray Burt, who died in 2011. "W.A. was a postal clerk at the Maury County Post Office, and they worked at night."
Mrs. Burt waited on customers and did the framing and matting.
Ray was also a photographer for The Daily Herald prior to forming a partnership with W.A. Orman in 1967. In the late 1960s, the Burts bought the business, and Ray became the sole owner of the studio, located at 806 S. High St.
After the building that housed Orman Studio sold, David White, owner of White's Camera Shop and Studio, was helping Mrs. Burt dispose of the equipment when they discovered a treasure trove -- original negatives -- black and white, color and hand-painted -- some dating back to the 1800s.
"As we looked through these, we found many envelopes containing the negatives of people and/or family members we knew who might be interested in having them," David explained.
The Columbia Military Academy Alumni Association is purchasing all of the CMA negatives for their museum, which is housed on the CA campus.
"Ray was an amazing photographer -- he had lots of patience and was especially good with children," Mrs. Burt added.
In addition to photographing children, he was in great demand for wedding portraits as well as photographing weddings. Many Maury County families have his works hanging in their homes.
For many years, he was the official photographer for all the schools in Maury County.
The negatives and prints have been moved to David's Camera Shop where they are available for sale. David has many of the photographs of children as well as beautiful bridal portraits in his studio.
"All of the negatives and equipment belong to the Burt family, and we will be selling them to interested folks," David said.
One piece of equipment from Orman Studio that David has on display is a Model 1945 L.F. Deardorf eight-by-10-inch view camera, which is a part of Maury County history. The camera is a great conversation piece among photography enthusiasts.
Another relic that was discovered is the 1940s camera case that held a 1920s camera used by W.A. Orman. The case measures 16-by-23-inches -- inconceivable in today's technological age. In many of the photographs of Mr. Orman he is show carrying this case.
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