The Collection of Photographer John Gale Reese

Reese was formally trained in music, and loved the violin.  But despite his extensive musical background, John spent most of his working days in the railroad industry.  

It was later in his adult life that John worked as a freelance photographer. Self-taught, he spent a lot of time experimenting with photographic techniques as well as photograph restoration.    In the 1970s, Reese's skill as a photographer led to involvement in several projects with the Birmingham Public Library where he worked as a conservator of photographs. Later, in the 1980s, he served as photographer for a National Endowment for the Humanities project to document the community of Gee’s Bend, a small all-black community well known for their exceptional quilts. 



John Gale Reese


John lived in Chelsea, Alabama with his wife Kate. Kate enjoyed genealogy, and together they would travel to small southern towns in pursuit of ancestral knowledge. Kate would spend time researching while John would explore his surroundings, camera in hand. 

His work can be found in the collections of the Eastman Collection in Rochester, New York, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Birmingham Public Library and the Shelby County Museum & Archives.


The follow gallery contains a small sample of the Reese Collection. The Shelby County Museum & Archives is currently digitizing his work, and hopes to make those images viewable on this website in the future.