The golden age of photographers

Man, the death of Frank Kashuda brought back memories.
Frank, who grew up in Greater Pittston and was a U.S. Army vet, died Sept. 25 in Florida where he resided with his daughter.
More than 40 years ago Frank was part of a crew of professional photographers who filled the pages of local newspapers with engagement and bridal photos and crowded the sidelines of high school football games. While I could be seen with a camera around my neck from time to time, I was primarily a sports writer and newspaper page designer. I couldn’t hold a candle to these guys when it came to photography but I had the good fortune to work closely with all of them.
Much has changed in the newspaper business in the last 50 years but perhaps nothing more than what we used to call the “society” or “social” section. That’s where the brides were. And the brides-to-be. And that’s where you’d see the artistic genius of these legendary local professional photographers. There was a group I called “The Big Three” – Steve Lukasik, Angelo Bufalino and John Rygiel – but right there alongside of them was Frank Kashuda and a few others. Sam Salinsky comes readily to mind.
Part of my job in designing those social pages was to place a “photo credit” under the bridal and engagement portraits. This was a tiny, 6-point line informing readers who took the photo. It got to the point where I could pretty much tell who the photographer was just by looking at the photo. Each had his own style.
That was true of their appearance and personalities as well. Frank Kashuda was always the most dignified one. No offense to the others, but Frank had a straight back, well dressed, soft spoken way about him that was his and his alone.
Angelo Bufalino was the first of The Big Three to go, passing away in 1983. Steve Lukasik died in 2009 and his brother Billy, also a photographer, followed six years later. John Rygiel died two years ago.
Now Frank Kashuda has joined them.
But none of them will ever truly be gone. Their bridal portraits adorn the walls and table tops of homes throughout Greater Pittston and their photos fill the pages of hundreds of wedding albums. Plus, their names in that 6-point type appear under bridal photos in countless newspaper clippings pasted in scrapbooks or pressed between the pages of family bibles.

Ed Ackerman