A Master of Light and Shadow

In 1916, on three single spaced typed pages, Fuller Callaway recorded expenses for building his new home. The last entry on the list was the name Thurston Hatcher. Who was this Mr. Hatcher, and what did he do?

Thurston Robert, or T.R. as he was reportedly called, was like Neel Reid, a native son of Macon, Georgia. Born in 1881, he caught the photography bug soon after his mother gave him a small camera when he was fifteen. From this early beginning Hatcher would go on to become one of Georgia’s most accomplished professional photographers.

After training with the award-winning studio of Moore & Stevenson in Atlanta, he set up his own studio in Macon. He later returned to Atlanta where he did a wide variety of work including portraiture, landscapes, buildings, events and weddings. He photographed many prominent members of the community and captured memorable images of Oglethorpe College, the Wren’s Nest, the Cyclorama and numerous other iconic Atlanta scenes. Across the state he created beautiful compositions of Tallulah Gorge, Fort Pulaski, Brasstown Bald, the Okefenokee Swamp and a variety of agricultural vistas.

Hatcher’s name appeared on the house construction list because Mr. Callaway hired him to photograph his new home, both inside and out, after it was completed in 1916. His trip to LaGrange resulted in some of the most stunning black and white and sepiatoned photos that have ever been made of Hills & Dales. Among these are the only pictures of the interior as it looked when Fuller and Ida moved into the home.

Obviously the Callaways approved of his work! When Fuller Jr. and Alice married in Pelham, Georgia, in 1930 Thurston Hatcher did the wedding photography, and the results were splendid. As Portrait magazine described in 1917: “His work has a distinct individuality and is an evidence that a particular study has been made of the effects of light, shadow and artistic grouping.” Like his photography, he was known for being very distinguished looking, having snow white hair and always wearing a black bow tie with a white shirt. No doubt a striking image, just like his photographs.

  • Hatcher taught astronomy at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, and made what was then one of the largest telescopes in Georgia.
  • In 1917 he was featured on the front of Portrait, a national magazine for professional portrait photographers.
  • In about 1935 Hatcher did a handsome portrait of then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He also photographed Margaret Mitchell.
  • An active member of the Photographer’s Association of America, he served as chairman of the Association’s 34th annual meeting held in Atlanta in 1913, the first-ever held in the South.

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