Hal Boucher

Date of Birth

August 4, 1926

Date of Death

January 15, 2020

Hal (Harold Joseph) Boucher was 93 years old, greatly loved by his family, and an important figure in the Santa Barbara community. Dad grew up on a farm near Flint, Michigan but was always curious about the larger world. His mother got him his first camera at age seven, igniting a lifelong passion for photography. His first published photograph was in Life magazine when he was ten. From the age of twelve he worked part-time in photography. During the war, while in high school, he got a job with the Flint Journal..

At age 18 he joined the army and was shipped to the Philippines in 1945. Some of his duties included photography, and he amassed a remarkable collection of photographs with detailed captions documenting the post-war period and Filipino culture. After discharge he was determined to leave Flint and enrolled at the Fred Archer Photography School in LA, followed by the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara.

He found a new home in Santa Barbara, and got a job with the News Press. In 1949 he was recruited by Robert Odell to be the house photographer at the Santa Barbara Biltmore. Working the two jobs resulted in several years of often 100-hour work weeks.

In 1952, Hal married Louise Heitfeld. In the mid-fifties he decided to go into the photography business for himself, while still keeping his connections, including darkroom and office, with the Biltmore. Louise was an integral part of the business until her death in 2013. Hal’s assignments at the Biltmore included legendary costume parties at the Coral Casino, such as the 1951 “Out of This World” ball. It isn’t possible to mention all the political figures, power brokers and celebrities he photographed over the decades, but perhaps most notable were John and Jackie Kennedy on their honeymoon at San Ysidro Ranch. Dad’s tenure at the Biltmore lasted a jaw-dropping 70 years; his last job was the employee Christmas party in December. His private career included thousands of weddings, debutante balls and society events. He was particularly talented at bringing out the best in family groups during candid home sessions.

Hal was truly a grand old man of Santa Barbara, and his children miss him very much. He is survived by Catherine, Carrie, Tom and Jon, as well as his big sister Jean and six grandchildren. There will be a get-together to honor Hal on February 17 at 3pm. Contact Tom at tboucher77@yahoo.com for details.


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