Photography jobs

Shacklett’s photograph preserves Rutherford County’s history

Bill Shacklett, one of the owners of Shacklett’s Photography, began working with his father, the late Richard “Dick” C. Shacklett, in the darkroom developing films when he was in third grade. In fact, Bill admits he was kicked and screamed into the digital age of photography. He used film for years after digital arrived, then started using it to take corporate photos and continued from there.

“Now I’m not coming back,” Shacklett said. “I’m amazed at what we can do with digital photography. Instead of spending my day in a dark room, I spend it in front of a computer. My dad taught me to stay adaptable.

His father also taught him all about quality photography. Dick Shacklett started out in the photography business developing films at Leo Farrell’s Photography in 1935, before starting his own business at the age of 16. During his life, Dick captured some of the most important people in the area, such as Uncle Dave; significant events in Rutherford County, such as the parade when General Douglas MacArthur came to Murfreesboro with his wife, Jean, who grew up in the town; and notable locations like Sky Harbor and Sewart Air Force Base.

Because Dick Shacklett was so interested in the history of the county and its people, negatives from the archives of many other photographers dating further back in time accumulated in the basement of the family’s photo studio on the town square.

Some of Dick’s most notable photography was wildlife photography, including his most famous shot of a trout catching a fly in its mouth. This snap, called “Strike,” caught the attention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who bought a copy and asked Dick to come to the White House to give it to him. In 1952, the photo won first place at the Universal Photography Exhibition in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Realizing the importance of their film collection, the Shackletts donated it to the Tennessee Archives for research purposes. But, keeping the rights to the film, if you want a copy of any of the photos, you can purchase it through the Shackletts.

Realizing the significance of these historic photographs, the Shackletts wrote a book titled then and now with historian John Lodl. The book uses photos dating back to the early 1800s showing what Murfreesboro looked like then and what the same place looks like today. It can be purchased here.

“We record our lives through photographs,” said Bill Shacklett. “From photos, we can see how much things have changed, whether in a few months or a few years… Being aware of the vast amount of history this studio has accumulated over the years makes us much more intentional in our work. You have to see people as they are. »

Over the years, Shacklett’s collection of photographs has been incorporated into other county history books, such as the now out of print Daily News Journal’s “A Pictorial History of Rutherford County.” There have also been a number of exhibitions of Dick Shacklett’s work. There was one late last year in the Washington Theater gallery inside the Patterson Community Center.

“We live in a very special place,” Shacklett said. “What makes it special are the people who live here, because they really care about each other.” And that gives Murfreesboro a special energy that comes through on camera. Continuing in Dick’s footsteps, two more generations of Shacklett continue to capture the people, places and events that have and will continue to define this place.