Unplanned treasure in focus: a pre-Europe photo session with Allen Toussaint

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Capturing cultural icons is nothing new to photographer Marc Pagani. In fact, you can travel the world through his work.

But on October 14th, he may have recorded an unplanned photographic treasure: The last professional shots of the legendary Allen Toussaint in his beloved New Orleans.

Pagani says he had about 15 minutes with Toussaint, who he says was everything people are posting about him.

“Everyone said the same thing. He was so sweet. He was so accommodating and generous, and I found that to be true in just our brief time together,” says Pagani.

The special session happened at Toussaint’s music studio and resulted in around 60 captivating photographs.

“He came out in his trademark socks and sandals with a beautiful suit,” says Pagani, who admired Mr. Toussaint’s fashion sense.

“And he was asking his daughter if he should wear this special medal he had gotten for 'Southern Nights,' the album, and she said, 'Sure, you should wear it.' And he was like, 'I don't want to be too showy,' but he did end up wearing it. I said, 'We could do some with and some without.' He ended up wearing the whole time. He was very kind,” remembers Pagani.

And the stylish songwriter even took time to remark on Pagani's footwear, silver shoes that he wore Tuesday, in Toussaint’s honor.

“He was very interested in my shoes, asked me where I got them and said he would love to get a pair.”

The shoes are no longer in production, but Pagani says he has been searching for them on EBay, with a plan to give a pair to Toussaint at their next photo session—which was in the works for after his return from Europe.

Now, Pagani is simply grateful for the connection he felt with the music icon, discussing travel, fashion and music.

“While we were shooting he was playing the whole time, it was like I had my own private concert which was great. It was just nice to be in his space.”

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