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Russ Ohlson, 66, one of top portrait photographers in US

Denver Post / May 2, 2011

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DENVER — Russ Ohlson, photographer of presidents and celebrities, died at a Boston hospital April 7 after a long struggle to recover from lung transplant surgery. He was 66.

Mr. Ohlson, who for years owned a studio in southeast Denver, was considered by many as one of the premier portrait photographers in the nation, according to a 1991 Denver Post column. Mr. Ohlson photographed the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan, both of Bill Clinton’s, and the inauguration of George H.W. Bush. He also was the official photographer for the late President Gerald Ford.

Mr. Ohlson also photographed the not-so-famous, sometimes doing six weddings a weekend, he told a Denver Post reporter. He shot school graduations, family gatherings, pictures for people’s Christmas cards.

William Russell Ohlson was born in Worcester, Mass., and went to high school there.

He shot his first wedding at age 15, and three years later he had his own studio.

Mr. Ohlson and his wife, Kathleen Roach Ohlson, moved to Denver in 1971.

“He was absolutely the happiest when he had a camera in his hand,’’ his daughter, Jennifer, said.

Mr. Ohlson moved to Mashpee, Mass., in 2005 and had a studio there until his death.

In addition to his daughter, he leaves a son, Eric, of Marblehead, Mass.; two grandchildren; and his sister, Linda Ohlson Graham of Wellfleet, Mass.