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Why Clearwater?

Ruth Ogg
Arlos’ wife, Ruth, colored many of his photos with oils, including these two portraits of her.

50 Years Recording the History of Pinellas

Ogg opened his first studio on Cleveland Street, between Greenwood Street and downtown.

“I was so far out of town,” he said, with a glint in his eye, “that the boys wouldn’t come to get pictures. If I did four portraits a week I was lucky. I finally moved Ogg Studios downtown to 807 Park Street and the first night I opened, I made 27 pictures. Those four blocks made all the difference.”

In the following half century, he took about 60,000 photographs, and not with 36 frames per roll in a self-winding camera. Each of those pictures was taken on the kind of clunky camera that sits on his sofa today, with individual 4- by 5-inch negatives that had to be inserted and then removed one at a time.

There was nothing he would not and did not photograph, from celebrities such as Babe Ruth to the “meanest cat I ever saw,” an animal that had won first prize at a celebrated English show. Two of his photographs were displayed at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939.

His photographs became even more popular after he married a young Swedish woman, Ruth, who colored his black-and-white pictures with oils. Although this art form all but disappeared with the advent of color photographs, it required great skill to produce results, and Ruth had a rare talent for it. Eastman considered her among the top ten oil colorists in the country.

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