Southwestern Dreams in Kodachrome: Selections from the Herbert and Dorothy McLaughlin Color Photography Collection

Published July 17, 2020
Updated Oct. 18, 2021

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
An image of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Ajo, Arizona (CP MCLC 10840).
The Herbert and Dorothy McLaughlin Color Photography and Other Materials collection is part of ASU Library’s Greater Arizona Collection. It features thousands of color photographs taken by the married duo of professional photographers who spent decades photographing the American Southwest for a variety of clients, such as Arizona Highways magazine.

Photographs from this collection were taken between 1940 and 1986 and were shot predominantly in Arizona but also in Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Mexico. The images, consisting mostly of positive Kodachrome and Ektachrome transparencies, feature a wide range of Southwestern scenes, including images of agriculture, cities, homes, hotels and resorts, rodeos, dude ranches, shopping centers and more. Because of the commercial nature of many of the images, the collection functions as a kind of survey of popular marketing ideas about how to promote the "Southwestern lifestyle"—however narrowly and homogenously defined in scope and practice—in the decades in which the photographs were taken.

Shown below are a series of images from the collection that embody both the artifice of commercial lifestyle photography as well as the gorgeous Southwest scenery of the McLaughlins’ best work.   

Rancho Manaña
Guests at Rancho Manaña in Cake Creek, Arizona (CP MCLC 10980).

People in desert with campfire
The McLaughlins created beautifully evocative images of the American Southwest (CP MCLC 10976).

People with horses
Modeling the cowboy and cowgirl lifestyle (CP MCLC 10979).

the Painted Desert
A golden-hued image of the Painted Desert (CP MCLC 11033).

—Matt Messbarger, Reference Coordinator, Distinctive Collections