Lista captured local history

  • Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:12 a.m.

The rich history of Aiken was made even richer by the photos taken during the 1950s and 1960s by Joe Lista. He captured life here, preserving it for generations to come.

Lista died on Sunday, just one week after the 88-year-old was honored by the City for his work in a program titled “Aiken Remembers Our Community through the Lens of Joe Lista.”

The photos on display during the exhibit brought stories from the standing room only crowd about people and places and events – further evidence of the power of Lista’s body of work and its importance to Aiken’s history.

Lista couldn’t make it to last week’s exhibit, but we imagine he would have enjoyed photographing it – another slice of life to chronicle with his 4x5 Speed Graphic camera.

He was the Savannah River Site’s chief photographer during its construction in the early 1950s. He opened his first studio on Laurens Street in 1953, and while the business moved, it never strayed from downtown.

His son Todd took over the business in 1978 when Lista retired.

Aiken is fortunate to have Lista’s body of work to remember and enjoy a time long gone.

As Wendall Hall, a former photographer who looked to Lista for inspiration, said Sunday, “He was always the photographer you aspired to be. If he ever took a bad photograph, I never saw it.”

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