In US and abroad, the name of Barry M.Goldwater is often associated with the GOP nomination for the presidential election of 1964. It was Goldwater’s highest bid in politics and the only election he lost. But “Mr. Conservative”, as he was known, wore many hats: Air Force pilot during World War II, US senator, avid amateur radio operator, accomplished outdoor person, and photographer.
Goldwater started in photography after his mother purchased a box camera to create images for the family album and let him experiment with it; his passion for photography grew with time, and despite his time-consuming involvement with politics, he practiced the art with fervor. It was a hobby that allowed him to capture moments of his eventful life, from portraying the rich and famous of the politician scene, to rendering the beauty of his beloved home state, Arizona.
His intimacy with the land and its native people, nurtured by extensive visits and frequentation, gave him a perspective achieved by very few photographers of that time: He knew personally all the Navajo and Hopi Indians that he would take picture of and would always gave a print back to them; He had a lifelong passion for the Grand Canyon and referred to it as “his mistress.”
“I was the 70th person to ever go through the Canyon. I really think it’s what got me started into politics. I took moving pictures of the trip and I guess I averaged four times a week showing the picture all over the state. When someone suggested that I run for the Senate, I thought, well, if there is anyone in the state I haven’t shown these pictures to, I don’t know who they are. So I got into politics for that reason," he said.
Barry Goldwater’s images of the Southwest landscape remind us of another famous American of this time, Ansel Adams. Adams was a friend and mentor to Goldwater,
“They would stump upon each other in remote areas and exchange information: ’how did you shoot that?’” recalls his oldest daughter, Joanne, whom accompanied him in trips. Earlier, he studied and admired the images of California master Edward Weston and his “New Objectivity” theory.
If Goldwater’s photography skills remain mostly unknown from the general public, his talents have been recognized in his lifetime by his peers: he was elected a life member of the Royal Photographic Society of London in 1948 and he was made an honorary member of the Photographic Society of America. His work appeared frequently in publications, and his picture of two Indian girls graced the cover on the first all-color issue of Arizona Highways in 1946.
His visual legacy consists of some 15,000 negatives and miles of movies that he shot during his expeditions. He was generous with his friends and gave away a lot of prints. The Heard Museum in Phoenix owns a small collection of his slides and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, is also one of the repositories of the archive, along with the Arizona Historical Foundation. But most of them remain in the hands of his family, through a foundation led by his son, Michael, who published several books on his father’s visual journey and maintains a website, (http://www.barrygoldwaterphotographs.com), and his sister Joanne and granddaughter Alison, who put together the current exhibit in Georgia, near Atlanta.
Their goal: spreading the word about Goldwater’s photographic talents and showing it to the rest of the world.
The Eyes of his Soul, The Visual Legacy of Barry M. Goldwater, Master Photographer
Until October 29, 2011
9077 Selborne Lane Suite B
Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30628