In 1940, Fonville opened his own photography studio in a small, rented house on Walnut Street in the Northdale neighborhood of Baton Rouge.

He covered a side porch with tar paper to convert it into a darkroom, and the dining room became his portrait studio. His business flourished, and in 1943 he moved his studio to the corner of Laurel and Seventh Streets in downtown Baton Rouge, where he remained until the 1980s.

Fonville, who described himself as “mechanically minded,” was also an inventor. In 1940, he patented a fully automated film-processing machine. The machine used a mechanical arm to dip twenty-four negatives into a series of vats, where they were washed and dried in preparation for printing. Fonville commented, “I don’t have to spend any time developing film, just about five minutes to load it into the machine.” His film-processing machine allowed him to operate with a small staff, and it remained in continuous use in his studio for more than fifty years. 

Fonville enjoyed working in the darkroom because it gave him another avenue of creativity in the photographic process. He remarked,

” I don’t have much enthusiasm for color because I have such complete control in black and white. If you do color work, you’re at the mercy of the lab and they grind it out. “

LA State Museum Exhibit, 2021

Fonville Winans studio has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.



LSU National Championship Coaches Signed Print

The 2022 Specialty Item of the Year is the LSU Football Championship Coaches Signed Print. This is a highly coveted historic photograph and the only known LSU sports memorabilia with all four LSU National Championship coaches’ signatures.

View This Product