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West’s photos to be compiled in book

Randy West of Corydon is compiling a book of photographs that he took over a 35-year career as editor of The Corydon Democrat.
‘I hope to have it done by Thanksgiving, in time for Christmas sales and Corydon’s 2008 bicentennial,’ said West, 64.
All costs of publishing the book will be paid by Corydon Capital Preservation Alliance, and all sale proceeds will be returned to that non-profit group. West is not being paid a salary nor will he receive any of the profits, if there are any.
The paperback ‘coffeetable’ book will be about 110 pages and contain about 100 photographs, all black and white. Almost all of them have appeared in The Corydon Democrat.
Some of those pictures earned awards in contests sponsored by the Hoosier State Press Association and the Indiana News Photographers Association.
Merrick Printing Co. in Louisville will print 1,000 copies of the book; they will cost between $20 and $25.
One of West’s favorite photographs, that of a boy and his calf at the Fourth of July ‘pet parade’ in Laconia, will grace the cover.
The most difficult part of the editing process, West said, is deciding which pictures to leave out. The culling process has involved countless hours in front of a microfilm reader at the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy in Corydon.
West is receiving some expert help and encouragement.
Bryan Moss of Corydon, a widely respected retired photojournalist for The Louisville Courier-Journal and several other national newspapers, will design the book. Bill Carner of New Middletown, head of archival photography at the University of Louisville, will prepare the book for printing. Carner has published a book, ‘Louisville, Then and Now,’ which is going into its second printing.
Moss grew up in Corydon and conducts photography workshops with his wife, Mary Jo, in White Cloud. He also produes a Web site of pictures, ‘LifeinCorydon.com.’
Larry Ordner of Evansville, the former Corydon man who produced ‘A Place to Belong,’ a pictorial history of Corydon, also encouraged West to undertake this project.
Although he thought about publishing a book after he retired in 2005, West said he didn’t really think it was realistic until one day last winter when he was moving some boxes from his basement to his attic and discovered a box of photographs.
‘I started looking at them, and thought, maybe I could do a book,’ West said. He was also inspired by Moss’s recent book of photographs called ‘Photosynthesis.’
After discussing the possibility with Moss, Carner and Ordner, West went to Tom Tucker, treasurer of the Corydon alliance, to talk about funding, and soon the project was underway.
West retired in 2005, although he still writes an occasional article for The Corydon Democrat and submits pictures.
His career in journalism began as an English instructor at Corydon Central High School. Some of the students in his first journalism class included Melissa Forsythe, Monty Schneider and Jill Moss Robertson, Bryan’s sister. Larry Ordner was in his second class.
‘I had to learn how to operate a camera and develop film,’ West said.
His first instructors were Bonita Brockman, a student who taught him how to use a twin-lens reflex camera, and the late Earl Saulman, then CCHS principal, who taught West how to mix chemicals and use the darkroom to develop film and make prints.
West was working on his master’s degree in English literature at Indiana University at the time, and he decided if he was going to continue teaching journalism, he should learn something about it, so one summer he took some basic classes at Bloomington.
There, he became acquainted with Dr. I. Wilmer Counts, who introduced him to the great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson. ‘And a new world opened,’ West said.
Parker Sams was editor of The Corydon Democrat in those days. ‘He also taught me a lot,’ West said. ‘He was a very, very good darkroom technician.’
After writing occasional sports and feature stories for the newspaper, West soon decided: ‘Doing journalism was a lot more fun than teaching journalism.’
When Sams left for another newspaper, West applied for his job. He was hired by the late Robert P. O’Bannon and his son, Frank, in 1970.
‘I took pictures for 35 years,’ said West. ‘I had a very, very lucky career.’
During his time as editor, The Corydon Democrat was named Blue Ribbon Weekly, the best in the state, 14 times by the Hoosier State Press Association.
West and his wife, Diane, live in Corydon. They have seven grown children and three grandchildren.

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