A resident of Ponchatoula, Julia Sims (b. 1942) is one of the premier photographers of Louisiana wildlife. She earned the moniker “Swamp Lady” for her devotion to capturing the vast Manchac Swamp surrounding Lake Maurepas between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on film. Sims photographs all residents of the swamp, from the smallest frog, to the oldest Cypress tree, to the native Cajuns who call the swamp home.
Sims’ fascination with Louisiana’s wetlands began as a child growing up in Baton Rouge. Through photography, she found that she could become a participant in the natural drama of the landscape surrounding her. After enrolling in a beginner’s “this is your camera” course at Tulane University’s Newcomb College in New Orleans, she began participating in wildlife photography workshops around the country taught by nationally recognized wildlife photographers. Her work improved with time and by the mid-1980s she secured a contract with the Peter Arnold Agency in New York, one of the most prestigious stock photo houses in the nation.
Sims documents with eloquent expression the lyrical beauty of nature and the vibrant energy of the swamp – its trappers, snakes, alligators, nutria, birds, and abundant flowers. Sims’ photographs capture the beauty and mystery of this hidden world and remind us of the need to preserve Louisiana’s wetlands.
Julia Sims, Cypress Sunbeam, c. 1990. Photograph, 26 x 40 inches. Purchased by the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Louisiana Art & Science Museum Collection, 1999.003.057.