New York transplant-turned-Louisville photographer, Tom LeGoff, has included all the elements of a crime novel into his latest collection, “Louisville Noir.”
There’s the femme fatale, the enforcer, the politician, the matriarch, the mastermind, the informant and the detective—except there’s a twist.
All the characters in LeGoff’s gritty portrait series are well-known members of the Louisville community, ranging from Mayor Greg Fischer to actress Jane Welch.
LeGoff, an MFA student at the University of Louisville, moved here a little over a year ago from New York City, where he has lived for the past 25 years and photographed notables such as President Obama, Julianne Moore, Matthew Broderick, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Brooke Shields.
He started shooting portraits for this collection in October 2013 after he working on a darker project for a magazine. LeGoff said the magazine’s editors ultimately wanted him to change his vision to something more open and cheerful.
“I get it, I’ve been an editorial photographer for a long time—but after that I was kind of like ‘screw it, I want to do my own thing,’” LeGoff said. “Quite honestly, I had been watching a lot of ‘True Detective,’ and I started watching ‘Chinatown ‘and ‘Sin City.’ I’ve always liked noir”
At that point, he consulted developer Gill Holland and Revelry Boutique owner Mo McKnight Howe. LeGoff needed interesting people to shoot.
“A lot of it had to do with the fact that they do something—from Laura Ellis, who is the lead singer of an amazing band, to the mayor. They also needed to have some kind of style, or face, or something about them,” LeGoff said.
(Disclosure: Holland is a member of Louisville Public Media’s board of directors. Ellis is a producer for WFPL News. )
Howe said she was honored when LeGoff ultimately asked her to host the collection at Revelry Boutique in the NuLu neighborhood.
“It’s definitely different than anything I have ever had in here,” she said. “When you think portraits, you don’t often think of dark characters, the way that Tom has made these people that I know and most of the community knows— he’s made them into characters, without you even realizing it, even if you know their faces.”
LeGoff doesn’t want his collection to merely be viewed as photos of well-known Louisville individuals.
“I want them to be fictional characters in this noir thing. It’s fun to show these portraits to people who aren’t from Louisville and see their reaction to who they think they are in the story,” LeGoff said.
The 12 portrait “Louisville Noir”collection opens Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 4 at Revelry Gallery Boutique, 742 E. Market St.