Oraien Catledge was born in Sumner, Mississippi, in 1928, and came to his photographer's vocation near the end of a long career as a social worker in the state of Mississippi, and as an advocate for the blind throughout the South.
Although principally a photographer of people, Catledge's sensuous, fastidious black and white work documents the landscapes and cityscapes of Mississippi and New Orleans, as well as imagining and recording the insular, working-class lives of the Cabbagetown neighborhood in center-city Atlanta - the signal achievement upon which his considerable reputation rests.
As novelist Richard Ford states in his introduction, Catledge's remarkable photographs insist on the world as a movingly shared place. They seize their subjects with a palpable and seemingly inexhaustible relish, "as if the photographer has found each subject's...face, expression, physical attitude and posture (so) full of dense complexity...." that the choice to make the photograph became an intoxicating one.
Catledge's photographs do more than simply arrest us. By their great affirming particularity, by their ambition , their perceptiveness, by their searching and patient eye and by what Ford calls their subjects' "radiant sense of chosen-nes," they cause us to concur in a spirit of munificence, which transcends their southern subjects and settings and achieves an indisputable connection with the great photography of the last century.