Cleveland's Photojournalists

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Because of its strong tradition in the newspaper business, Cleveland has produced a long line of celebrated photojournalists who have told the story of Cleveland and its citizens with their images. Use this page as a pathfinder for the collections of their photographs now preserved in the Cleveland Memory Project.

Frank Aleksandrowicz (1922-2014), Cleveland Press

Frank Aleksandrowicz, 1959
Frank Aleksandrowicz, 1959.

Frank Aleksandrowicz came to work as a news photographer at the Cleveland Press after his former employer, Erie Dispatch, folded. He served in the U.S. Army as a photojournalist during World War II and the Korean War. Particularly after the Cleveland Newspaper Strike of 1962, he focused his efforts on commercial photography. In addition to winning many awards for his photographs, Frank Aleksandrowicz was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

William Ashbolt (1926-1999), Plain Dealer

William Ashbolt was an award-winning journalist who was a combat photographer for the U.S. Marines and photographer for the Plain Dealer until his retirement in 1988. Two significant events covered by Ashbolt's photograph collection are the investigation of Sam Shepherd in the murder of his wife, Marilyn Shepherd, and the Robert Manry's cross-Atlantic excursion in his sailboat, Tinkerbelle.

Fred Bottomer climbing the Terminal Tower Flagpole, 1927
Fred Bottomer climbing the
Terminal Tower flagpole, 1927.

Fred "Fearless Freddie" Bottomer (1904-1985), Cleveland Press

Fred Bottomer worked as the sports photographer for the Cleveland Press. Beginning with the Press in 1920 as an office boy, he transitioned to photographer and captured on film such events as the Lorain tornado of 1924 and the union strikes of the 1930s though he spent the majority of his career covering Cleveland sports. He was rightly nicknamed "Fearless Freddie" whether he was getting hit by errant foul balls, climbing the Terminal Tower pole, or hanging off a 1920's airplane wing for the perfect shot. Bottomer took a leave from the Press and served in the U.S. Navy as chief photographer in the Pacific Theater and remained active in the Naval Reserve after the war. He was honored with numerous Newspaper Guild Awards including the Best Sports Photo of 1955.

Tim Culek, Cleveland Press

Tim Culek worked at the Cleveland Press as a news photographer. He was awarded the Best News photo by the Cleveland Newspaper Guild in 1977. He captured one of the more memorable images in Cleveland photojournalism as Roldo Bartimore was being removed from a city council meeting by council president George Forbes (displayed in photo gallery at the top of the page). After working as the photo assignment editor at the Press, Culek joined WEWS Channel 5 as the night assignment editor.

Eddie Dork (1894-1986), Cleveland News

Eddie Dork, 1958
Eddie Dork with camera, 1958.

Edward Dork, known to nearly everyone as "Eddie," worked as a photographer for the Cleveland News. He spent 50 years in the Cleveland newspaper business as a photographer beginning in November 1908 as an "office boy" for the Cleveland Leader. He then transitioned to Cleveland News where as a teenager he worked as a photographer's assistant until he worked his way up to photographer. Eddie served in World War I as a cook in the U.S. Army (he was not allowed to have a gun because of his German descent). Early in his career, Eddie made a name for himself as a photographer for the News by covering such historic events as the Lorain Tornado of 1924, the Cleveland Clinic disaster of 1929, the Ohio Penitentiary fire of 1933, and the East Ohio Gas explosion in 1944.

Byron "Shorty" Filkins (1890-1963), Cleveland Press

Byron Filkins worked for more than fifty years as a news photographer for such papers as Cleveland Sunday News-Leader, Chicago-American Examiner, Cleveland News, and for many years with Cleveland Press. He photographed all the presidents from Theodor Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower and all the Cleveland mayors from Tom Johnson to Anthony Celebrezze.

Jerry Horton (1915-1977), Cleveland News and Cleveland Press

Jerry Horton worked for Cleveland newspapers as a photojournalist for 35 years for both Cleveland News and Cleveland Press. He began as a copy boy with Cleveland News in 1931 and several short years later joined the photo dept. He took a leave from the News and served as the photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. Jerry Horton was the most decorated combat photographer earning a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and three Bronze stars. As a spot news photographer, he was honored with two awards from the Cleveland Newspaper Guild and the Ohio Press Photographers Association awarded him the top award for his work of capturing a robbery in progress on film. When Cleveland News folded, he joined the Cleveland Press as news photographer.

Clayton Knipper, 1970
Clayton Knipper, 1970.

Clayton Knipper (1910 - 1986), Cleveland Press

Clayton Knipper began as a copy boy with Cleveland News in 1931 and within six months transitioned to the News Photo Dept. He worked for the Cleveland Press as a photographer from 1939 until 1977 (serving as chief photographer 1970-1977). President Dwight Eisenhower sat for him privately and Knipper covered the Sam Shepherd trial from start to finish. Additionally, he was the first photojournalist to receive the Cleveland Newspaper Guild Award for reporting (coverage of the brutal slaying of Cynthia Pfell in Upper Sandusky).

John "Bud" Nash (1913-1960), Cleveland Press

John Nash began as a copy boy with the Cleveland Press in the early 1930's and quickly transitioned to news photographer. He took a leave from the Press to serve in World War II and was stationed in London as combat photographer for 8th Air Force. After the war, he returned to Cleveland Press where he earned a reputation as a spot news reporter until his untimely death in 1960.

Bill Nehez, 1978
Bill Nehez with one of his published photographs, 1978. Photo by Paul Topplestein.

Bill Nehez (1919-2009), Cleveland News and Cleveland Press

Bill Nehez worked as a photographer for Cleveland News before serving in the U.S. Army. In the Army, he served as combat photographer for the Signal Corps, covering the invasion of Normandy and other events in the European theater. After returning home, Bill Nehez worked as a photographer and journalist for Cleveland Press.

Larry Nighswander (1948-2014), Cleveland Press

Larry Nighswander began his career in photojournalism at an early age by working as a freelance photographer while still in college. He began as news photographer at the Cleveland Press the day after graduating college and worked for numerous other newspapers during his career including the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Post, and Washington Times. Later in life he worked for the Bonnier Corp. where he served as the director of photography for a number of magazines and also as a college professor of photography and the Director of the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. He won numerous awards including Scripps-Howard Designer of the Year (twice) and Magazine Picture Editor of the Year (1993) for his work in National Geographic.

Bernie Noble, 1969
Bernie Noble with photograph of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1969. Photo by Paul Topplestein.

Bernie Noble, Cleveland Press

For nearly four decades, Bernie Noble worked as a news photographer for the Cleveland Press beginning in 1945. He was honored with numerous awards by the Ohio News Photographers Association and Cleveland Newspaper Guild. His photograph of President Dwight Eisenhower was chosen to serve as the Eisenhower 6-cent stamp issued on October 14, 1969. In 1978 he was promoted as the Press' chief photographer.

Frank Reed, 1956
Frank Reed, 1956. Photo by Glenn Zahn.

Frank Reed (1915-1989), Cleveland Press

Frank Reed worked as a photographer for the Cleveland Press from 1956 until 1980. He enlisted in the U.S. Army where he received training in photography as served as combat photographer in the South Pacific in World War II. He famously was one of the photojournalists who photographed the surrender of the Japanese aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. After the war he worked for Cleveland News Pictures until 1956 when he joined the Press. As a photographer for the Press he primarily served as the "society photographer" covering fashion and Cleveland society news.

Herman Seid, 1954
Herman Seid, 1954.

Herman Seid (1908-1980), Cleveland Press

Herman Seid joined Cleveland Press in 1924 as an office boy after graduating from high school and quickly transitioned to the photo dept. He was on the scene with his camera at such historic events as the Cleveland Clinic disaster in 1929 and Ohio Penitentiary fire in 1930. He served as a photographer for three years with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Air Corps in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. Seid was honored with numerous awards from the Cleveland Newspaper Guild, Ohio News Photographers Association, May Show, and Time Magazine.

Paul Tepley, 1970
Paul Tepley, 1970. Photo by
Paul Topplestein.

Paul Tepley (1931 - 2018), Cleveland Press

Paul Tepley was a sports photographer for Cleveland Press. After studying journalism for 18 months at Kent State University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served on Admiral's staff as photographer. After the Navy, Tepley worked as a photographer for United Press International before landing at the Press in 1962. Four years later, he was named the Press' sports photographer. Together with Tony Tomsic, Paul Tepley represented the next generation of sports photographers following Fred Bottomer. Tepley was honored with numerous awards by the Ohio News Photographers Association and in 2005 the Press Club of Cleveland inducted him into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame.

James Thomas, 1963
James Thomas, 1963. Photo by Paul Topplestein.

James Thomas (1905-1967), Cleveland Press

James Thomas worked as a photographer for the Cleveland Press for more than 31 years. While working for the Harshaw Chemical Company, he decided to make his hobby of photography his new career. He worked for Cleveland Sunday News-Leader and Akron Times-Press before joining the Press as news photographer in the 1930's.

Tony Tomsic in 2015
Tony Tomsic (right) in 2015.
Photo by Donna Stewart.

Tony Tomsic (1935-2019), Cleveland Press

Tony Tomsic joined the Cleveland Press in 1955 and succeeded Fred Bottomer as sports photographer. After spending 25 years at the Press, Tomsic worked as a freelance photographer for Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and the NFL. Known as the "Dean of the Super Bowl shooters," he covered every Super Bowl until 2015. When asked about a favorite photograph, he pointed to the Vince Lombardi being carried off the field after Super Bowl II. Tony Tomsic was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame by the Press Club in 1994.

Paul Toppelstein in 1966
Paul Toppelstein in 1966.
Photo by Frank Reed.

Paul Toppelstein, Cleveland Press

Paul “Toppy” Toppelstein was the in-house studio photographer when the Press closed in 1982. His career started in World War II when, after a brief start in the Army and a 19-day trans-Atlantic voyage on the un-escorted SS Pasteur to England, he transferred to the Army Air Force’s 457nd Bomber Group. There he processed incoming film from the bomb runs over Germany, checking bombing patterns and doing other related duties. Discharged in 1945, his first professional photography job was with the Newspaper Enterprise Association, a Scripps-Howard company, where he worked for eleven years. When the Cleveland Press started its suburban section, he transferred there before becoming the studio photographer. All his photography skills were self-taught.

Van Dillard, 1975
Van Dillard, 1975. Photo by Paul Topplestein.

Van Dillard, Cleveland Press

Van Dillard starting working at the Cleveland Press in 1967. When he completed his degree in photojournalism at Kent State University in 1968 and was subsequently hired as a photographer for the Press, he became the first full-time African-American photographer at the Cleveland Press.

Louis Van Oeyen, Cleveland Press

Louis Van Oeyen (1865-1946) was a photojournalist for the Cleveland Press. He was hired by the Cleveland Press in 1901 after his photographs of the water intake explosion in Lake Erie and the assassination of President William McKinley were published in the Press. His photographs cover a wide range of subjects including portraits, crime, disasters, politics, and sports. Van Oeyen was especially fond of professional baseball; he began to serve as the official photographer for the American League in 1908 (and for the World Series until 1922). He was a pioneer in many advancements in photojournalism including the testing of new photographic equipment such as the General Electric flash bulb in 1938.

Paul Tepley, 1970
William Wynne (photo courtesy of
William A. Wynne).

William Wynne, Plain Dealer

William "Bill" Wynne is an award-winning photographer and photojournalist. He served as an aerial photographer and camera operator for the U.S. Air Force during World War II, conducting photo reconnaissance in the Southwest Pacific and Far East. After the war, William Wynne served as a photojournalist for the Plain Dealer in capturing the visual record of historically significant events in Cleveland politics and society. As an advocate for justice, Wynne was honored as part of the investigative journalism team that exposed the abuses at Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in the 1970's.

Glenn Zahn, 1968
Glenn Zahn, 1968. Photo by Paul Topplestein.

Glenn Zahn (1914 - 1970), Cleveland Press

Glenn Zahn started working with the Associated Press as an office boy early in the 1930's. After working for nine years with the AP and Cleveland News, he began working as photographer with Cleveland Press and was appointed chief photographer in 1952. He covered such events as the East Ohio Gas Co. explosion and 1952 Republican Convention in Chicago; he also is reputed to have taken the first photo of Dr. Sam Shepherd the day his wife was found murdered.

Other Cleveland Press Photographers Represented in Cleveland Memory