For more than 20 years, André Moreau was in front of the camera. Now he's behind it and turning a newfound hobby into love letter to his hometown and into a promising business.
When he returned home to Baton Rouge eight years ago as the news anchor for WAFB's 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, Moreau found lots of changes — not just in the news business but in the city itself. Newscasters, he discovered, had to have a digital presence, particularly on Facebook. That led to him playing tourist in his hometown.
"I had to have photos to post on Facebook, and Baton Rouge had changed so much while I was gone," says Moreau, who was the sports anchor for WAFB from 1987 to 1994. He left Baton Rouge for the same job with a TV station in Columbus, Ohio, followed by stops in Detroit, Los Angeles and San Diego before coming home in 2008.
"There were things I knew would be there, and then there are things I've found," he says of his photography subjects. "My photos are more focused, close up. … Ours is not the most fabulous skyline, so I usually wind up with an image with a story."
His photography really took off at the city's Red Stick Revelry New Year's Eve celebration this year. The 58-year-old Moreau got a "real camera" a few days before the event and got snap happy.
"I was never interested in photography before then," he confesses with a laugh. "I'm too ADD to take a class, so I just try different settings and things. All the errors, which are less and less, are lessons learned."
Once posted on Facebook and Instagram, his photos became a huge hit, with requests coming in on how to purchase them. Now you can.
Moreau's beautifully framed and signed photos are on sale at the gift shop at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and soon on his website.
"It's pictures of what everybody loves about Baton Rouge portrayed in the best way possible — a unique way," he adds. "Most of the downtown shots were taken late at night on my way home from work after the news."
This divergent path wasn't in Moreau's plan, but plans change — sometimes drastically — as Moreau found out this summer. His contract with WAFB was up at the end of June, and he had been in contract talks with station management and "in principal" had reached an agreement but hadn't yet inked a deal.
When he returned from vacation, during which time three law enforcement officers were gunned down by a sniper, the station withdrew its initial offer and came back with one that was "unacceptable" to Moreau. His last day on the air was Aug. 22.
"I don’t miss it, which is strange to me because I loved it," he says of being in the news business. "There are (other) things I can do."
Photography, for one.
He's also co-chairing the city's Bicentennial Committee, "which plays into the fact that here are photos of our city 200 years later through my view." He's also working with Darryl Gissel's mayoral campaign, hosting a one-minute "Darryl Daily" video blog on Facebook and other social media, and he's working on this year's Red Stick Revelry committee. He's filled in for Stephanie Riegel on WRKF's "Out to Lunch" broadcast, and he was a guest on Talk 107.3's "Jim Engster Show."
He's also kicking around the idea of forming his own media company.
"Getting back on TV is not my focus," says Moreau, who adds he is happy to be back home in Baton Rouge and doesn't want to leave. "I'm talking to Visit Baton Rouge about using my photos as stock photos for its promotion purposes. I'm doing a lot of lunches to discuss my options … giving people ideas on how I could work with them.
"I'm Mr. Baton Rouge," continues Moreau of his newfound role promoting his birthplace. "Things that were announced three years ago are now coming together. I'm the biggest advocate of downtown and its being the hub of the city. There's so much stuff happening right now; I'm enjoying promoting that."