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Luke Fontana is a well known and recognized New Orleans jazz photographer who's photographs have been selected as part of the permanent collection of the Louisiana State Museum Jazz Collection and the New Orleans Historical Collection Society.


Currently residing in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Luke describes himself as a mixture between Paul Strand and Walker Evans with a taste of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Luke is a recipient of a Photography Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment of Arts, Washington, D.C. This grant resulted in the publication of two books: "New Orleans and her Jazz Funeral Marching Bands" and "Save Our Wetlands".  Both books have been completely sold out for many years, and now are collector items.

Luke Fontana's 3rd book, which remains unpublished is titled "Valley of the Pecan Gatherers". Valley of Pecan Gatherers is a collection of photographs from the rural south during the early 1970's. These photographs, considered by Luke to be some of his finest work, are offered for sale on this website. The original manuscript of this book is part of the permanent collection of the Auburn Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia.

Luke Fontana's posters and prints titled LOUISIANA HERITAGE are on display and sold at numerous galleries in New Orleans, and his original photographs have been featured in several prestigious New Orleans Vieux Carre galleries.

Luke Fontana is also the producer of 4 audio CD's titled

  1. Down in Louisiana
  2. Earl K Long Rantin Ravin Singin
  3. Save Our Wetlands
  4. Ballad of Earl K Long

His 5th audio CD is expected to be completed soon.  It is titled, "New Orleans 2nd Line", and features Wynton Marsalis 2nd line and street music from the 2006 French Quarter Festival.

Luke Fontana also produced the film "Jazz Funeral For Democracy" which has been screened at film festivals throughout North America and won a number of viewers choice awards. 
He is also presently working on the following titled films:

  • New Orleans Jazz Funerals of Tuba Fats, Alvin Baptiste and Louis Nelson
  • Battle for New Orleans a Save Our Wetlands Production
  • Eco Mardi Gras
  • Valley of the Pecan Gatherers a musical southern sojourn
  • New Orleans Street Performers of 1970's

Luke Fontana: Past, Present and Future

New Orleans photographer, retired attorney, and producer.

Luke Fontana received a Photography Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, Washington DC in 1972. As part of this grant, Mr. Fontana became the author of two books.

NEW ORLEANS & her JAZZ FUNERAL MARCHING BANDS copyright in 1980. This book is presently out of print, and completely sold out.

The second book is titled SAVE the WETLANDS, copyright 1982 published by Coleman publishers of New York. This book is presently out of print, and completely sold out.

LUKE FONTANA is a well-known New Orleans photographer. His photographs can be reviewed at

Mr. Fontana started his law practice as a civil rights attorney working as a staff attorney in the Algeria Fisher projects for New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation in 1968 - 1970.

He was responsible for the desegregation of the State Industrial School for Colored Youth notoriously known as Scotlandville. This lawsuit not only resulted in the desegregation of the juvenile institutions in the state of Louisiana in 1968 - 1969, but also resulted in the equalization of funding by the Louisiana State Legislature to the juvenile institutions in the state of Louisiana.

In hearings before United States District Judge Alvin Rubin, Mr. Fontana described Scotlandville as a brutal prison. And the white juvenile institutions as country clubs.

Mr. Fontana became well known as a penal reform attorney. In a class action lawsuit filed in 1969 against New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro, Mr. Fontana represented, all prisoners in the notorious Orleans Parish Prison, alleging violation of the United States Constitution prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. This was the first penal lawsuit, appointing a Special Master, and was written up by the American Bar Association.

In this class action lawsuit, United States District Court Judge Herbert Christenberry ruled in Mr. Fontana's favor, and ordered the city of New Orleans to improve the conditions of Orleans Parish prison, or face a contempt of court citation Mr. Fontana litigated this case for a period of over 12 years, filing numerous contempt of court violations against every New Orleans mayor, from Mayor Moon Landrieu to Mayor Dutch Morial.

Mr. Fontana was also one of the attorneys involved in the class action lawsuit against the Louisiana State Prison, known as Angola, alleging violations of the United States Constitution for cruel and unusual punishment, and seeking relief from these elements of torture.

The United States District Court Judge in Baton Rouge granted Mr. Fontana's plaintiffs an injunction, prohibiting the state of Louisiana from inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on the prisoners of Angola the majority of whom were Afro Americans.

Mr. Fontana was well known for his representation of New Orleans police brutality cases against Afro Americans. His most famous case was his handling of the Charles Cheatham police killing of Mr. Cheatham on Bourbon Street in April of 1975 by New Orleans police officer Stephen Reboul.

The jury in Louisiana Civil District Court in New Orleans, Judge Tom Early presiding, granted Sheryl Cheatham, widow of Charles Cheatham, and her young son, an award of $619,000

This was the first time any large award was granted against the New Orleans Police Department for killing an Afro-American. It was the first time in New Orleans, the NOPD blue line had ever been cracked. Mr. Fontana played a key part in cracking this case. At the last second on the second day of the jury trial, Mr. Fontana was able to produce Ronnie Lee Watson, a key witness to the cold blooded murder shooting of Charles Cheatham by Stephen Reboul.

By his own testimony, Ronnie Lee Watson testified that members of the NOPD threatened to kill him, if he was ever discovered again in the French Quarter of New Orleans

One witness that repeated the police killing storyline was found dead in Lake Pontchtrain 7 days later with five bullet holes in his head.

In spite of all these obstacles, Fontana pulled Ronnie Lee Watson out of a hat, and broke the NOPD BLUE LINE.

This award of $619,000 was reversed in the Louisiana. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Peter Beer residing.

Peter Beer was an ex New Orleans city councilman, and it became evident his decision was likely to protect the purse strings of the city of New Orleans, whom he once represented as a city councilman.

The Louisiana State Supreme Court, Judge Pascal Calogero presiding, reversed this unfair and prejudicial decision of Peter Beer's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

After appeals, writs to Louisiana State Supreme Court, accumulating legal interest, the final judgment in the Charles Cheatham case came out to $800,000, which the taxpayers of New Orleans were obligated to pay.

In spite of this, Stephan Reboul remained on the New Orleans Police Department under the administration of Mayor Ernesr Dutch Morial, the first Afro American elected mayor of the city of New Orleans.

NOPD officer, and now accused killer cop Stephe Reboul, was part of the New Orleans Police Department raid that killed four Afro American Algiers residents. This raid is known as the Algiers massacre. Steven Reboul shot Cheryl Singleton, while she was in the bathtub with her 10 year old child nearby.

Luke Fontana is presently working on a script titled JAZZ FUUNERAL. This jazz funeral script revolves around the shooting death of Charles Cheatham, and Mr. Fontana's personal life experience of this horrible New Orleans Algiers massacre.

Mr. Fontana is a producer of 16/ 30 minute television programs, produced with the cooperation of Cox cable television network5. These programs were titled SAVE OUR WELANDS ECO NEWS, and were funded by municipal grant from the city of New Orleans These videotapes are presently being put into a digital file by the history department of the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC).

These SOWL ECO NEWS programs are of great historical value. Many programs feature the Second Great toxic March that was organized by the Gulf Coast Tenants Association, led by community organizer Pat Bryant.

This march started at the historic Congo Square, now known as the Louis Armstrong Park, and went over the Mississippi River Bridge all the way through that area known as cancer alley. The purpose of the March was to expose what is known as environmental racism by the huge industrial polluting Chemical plants, located in minority Afro American communities, lining the Mississippi River.

The chemical plants are thought to be responsible for countless cancer sickness and death in the small Afro American towns where these plants are located. Governor Bobby Jindal greatly expanded these chemical plants in Louisiana, granting them huge tax subsidies, which greatly caused Louisiana to have one of the biggest budget deficits in her history and for Louisiana to lead the rest of the nation, and the highest rates of cancer, especially among Afro Americans in that area known as cancer alley.

This 2nd Great toxic March filmed by Mr. Fontana features speakers like ex New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, and the most respected and be loved Louisiana State Representative, now deceased Reverend Avery Alexander.

One major focus of the Second Great toxic March was to expose the proposed Formosa chemical plant to be located on one of the last green belts, remaining in cancer alley. This Formosa group was run out of Texas state authorities as environmental outlaws.

Because of the publicity and public outrage that the Second Great toxic March generated this Formosa chemical plant, scheduled to be constructed in the small Afro American community of Edgard, was forced to cancel their plans.

Mr Fontana is in the process of turning these 16/30minute programs titled SAVE OUR WELANDS ECO NEWS PROGRAMS, using master tape digital files generated by NOVAC.

Mr. Fontana's hoping with some assistance he might be able to crack into social media and have these very historical programs viewed by many millions on a global scale



JFFD was held in New Orleans on January 20th 2005 this was the same day that George W Bush was inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States of America.

JFFD was a traditional New Orleans Jazz funeral in commemoration of this inauguration, which to the second liners was a celebration of the death of democracy. People came from all across the United States to participate in this JAZZ FUNERAL for DEMOCRACY. Mr. Fontana won numerous Awards at various Film Festivals for this DVD across the United States.

The DVD also contains a march held in New Orleans on March 19th 2005 to commemorate the second anniversary of the war against Iraq.

The third track of this DVD contains a Lagniappe Bonus track titled the Jazz funeral of Tuba Fats.

Mr. Fontana produced a DVD titled THREE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ FUNERALS, consisting of the Jazz funerals of the following:

The Jazz funeral of Alvin Baptiste
The Jazz funeral of Tuba Fats
The Jazz funeral of Louis Nelson

In 1987, Mr. Fontana produced a CD and LP titled DOWN IN LOUISIANA featuring Butch Mudbone and Jeff Dawson, and also contains the original compositions of Luke Fontana..

Two of Mr..Fontana's original compositions are titled BOGALUSA MAN BOUGALEE WOMAN. & PAPA JOEL best Cajun coonass I ever know.

Mr. Fontana is presently working with Louisiana Music Hall of Fame guitar player and composer Ernie Vincent to produce BOGALUSA MAN BOUGALEE WOMAN & PAPA JOE both as audio and on film, and to introduce it worldwide on social media.

The 2ND CD Mr. Fontana produced is 22 tracks of original compositions titled SAVE OUR WETLANDS and features a song sung and written by Rudy Mills titled SENOR GASOLINA.

Mr. Fontana plans to work with Eco Latinos, having this song sung by a Spanish band, entirely in Spanish.

Mr. Fontana produced a CD titled BALLAD of EARL K LONG. Plus It features the rantings of ex Louisiana governor Earl K Long, plus longtime Louisiana musician and composer Jay Chevalier

Mr.Fontana is presently working on two CDs. The first one is titled NEW ORLEANS 2nd LINE . This was the second line organized by Wynton Marsalis right after Hurricane Katrina, hopefully to inspire and bring back spiritually to the city of New Orleans.

This Wynton Marsalis second line started at the old Blandin Funeral Parlor, now called the Backstreet Museum on St. Claude Avenue, ending st Congo Square.

Mr. Fontana was fortunate enough to personally record this Wynton Marsalis second line performance, orchestrated and led by Wynton Marsalis. This CD ends with an an interview with Uncle Lionel Baptiste outside the Spotted Calf on Frenchmen St.

The second CD is titled ON FRENCHMAN STREET New Orleans Street Sounds

Mr. Fontana intends to have both CD's out on the Internet and open for worldwide distribution by the end of April, 2016.

Mr. Fontana's Save Our Wetlands(SOWL) files have been accepted by the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Mr.Fontana is in the process to digitize these historic wetland files, consisting of many court battles against the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and large corporations, especially the destruction of 5200 acres on the north shores of Lake Ponchatrain in St Tammany Parish Slidell Louisiana, now known as the Eden Isle and.the Oak Harbor subdivisions.

The Historic New Orleans Collection has also accepted a number of Mr. Fontana's original silver gelatin non digital photographs. The topics include the jazz musicians in New Orleans of the 1970s, social protest such as the anti-nuclear protest, that occurred in opposition of the Waterford nuclear power plant just 15 miles up river from New Orleans. The photographs also are of the Louisiana Acadiana area.

Finally, Mr. Fontana has on his website LOUISIANA HERITAGE POSTERS. These posters or 21 inches wide and 16 inches deep. They are black and white and are individually signed in pencil by Luke Fontana. There are four different images.

NEW ORLEANS FESTIVAL: Photo of Matthew fats Houston with in Olympia banner across his chest and a whistle in his mouth. This photo was taken at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1973

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ: New Orleans jazz. This is a photo of Anderson Minor with an Olympia banner across his chest. He's wearing a pair of white gloves and holding a very fancy umbrella. This photo was taken in 1974 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

ACADIA: This is a photo of a very traditional Southwest Louisiana Cajun home. The photo was taken by Mr Fontana in Catahoula Louisiana in 1974

BABE STOVALL: Babe was a very beloved street musician in the late 1960s in the French Quarter New Orleans. The story goes that Babes guitar, really his dobro, was stolen. Babe lost the love of his life and died 3 days later..

These posters are all individually signed in pencil by Luke Fontana. They are priced at $20 which will include shipping. The other poster photo type image that will be placed on sale are 16 inches wide and 13 inches deep. They are black and white and each one is individually shrink wrapped and matted. All bear the signature of Luke Fontana. They will be sold for $15, which will include shipping. There are three different series

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND: This is a photo of Matthew FATS Houston in a second line . He has a Olympia gold banner across his chest

NEW ORLEANS DIXIELAND JAZZ: This is a photo of the infamous Danny Barker playing his banjo in Jackson Square. Danny Barker is now deceased and for the very first time in the year 2016, New Orleans held its very first Danny Barker festival

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ FUNERAL: This jazz funeral is being led by 2 grand marshals, Matthew fats Houston and Anderson minor. In the background are Alan Jaffe on tuba, Harold Asian on saxophone, and George kid Sheik Cola.


New Orleans Photography Luke Copyright © 2016