Robert J. “Bob” Long and his wife, Ida Nelson Long, opened Lafayette Studios in 1923, operating it out of the New Johns Building at 108 Walnut Street (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) in Lexington, Kentucky. Bob and Ida Long already had a few years experience in still and moving image photography and Bob worked as a projectionist at the newly opened Kentucky Theatre on East Main Street. In 1925, they expand their business and moved the studio space to 311 West Main Street. By the early 1930s, the Longs bought out their main competitor, Starman Studios. Around this time, Bob Long left his job at the Kentucky Theatre and focused on building Lafayette Studios into Lexington’s most successful photographic studio. In the late 1930s, the Longs moved again, this time to the Starman Studio space, at 301 West Main Street. By 1941, they moved again, settling into 141-143 North Limestone; it was to be the studio’s home until 1984. In 1959, the Longs sold Lafayette Studios to Chester Wainscott and Goy Goforth and retired. After 1962, Wainscott became the sole owner and operator until the studio closed in 1985 at it’s final location of 111 South Limestone.
Lafayette Studios was unique in its focus on both studio portrait photography and commerical location work. In the field, their practice was to use large format (mainly 8x10 and 5x7) nitrate and acetate (safety) negatives, producing very detail-rich images.