I grew up in a darkroom. My brother and I would earn a nickel a print enlarging Dadís negatives into 8 x 10 formats when we needed spending money. Having such a close familiarity with the negatives quickly transformed the exacting task of choosing a representative sampling of photographs from a collection built over the course of several decades into a pleasant walk down memory lane.
Dadís cameras were as much part of our daily lives as our frequent camping trips into the wilderness, always backed with photographs he captured on site. He carried his cameras everywhere thus lending the present portfolio a natural thematic division based upon frequency of occurrence: Family, Homeland, and Statesman Abroad.
Within those headings, featured photographs are presented as capsule studies of Dadís favored subjects, aesthetic motifs and technical skill across time and various equipment updates. The breadth and scope of his interests made the selection process no mean task, as did his penchant for sometimes failing to accurately record dates, locations, and other pertinent information about a given photograph. Rather than second guess the master, we chose to admit the confusion and just let the photographs stand on their own merit.
Most of his negatives and the equipment he used are now safely stored alongside Edward Westonís Archive at the University of Arizonaís Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. Examples of his color photography joined his massive Kachina collection at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The images featured here were selected from the Barry M. Goldwater Fine Arts Photograph Collection at the Arizona Historical Foundation at Arizona State University in Tempe, or from the private collections of his children and grandchildren.
Although Dad was stylistically within the Weston school in New Objectivity, he was a wise and wily cameraman, whose tendency to push the artistic envelope gave him a signature style as stark and direct as his own unique brand of plain speaking. Famed photographer Yousuf Karsh, on assignment for Life Magazine, arrived at our home in Phoenix during the 1964 presidential campaign and spent three days surveying sites and checking the light without clicking the shutter once until the last day. The photographs were beautiful. Dad told me later that I had just learned an important lesson from a Master Photographer that he greatly admired.
The magic Dad made through the lens was often enhanced by manipulations in the darkroom that smoothed out the rough edges without forfeiting the historical value of the image. He often said that half the work in creating a memorable photograph occurred in the darkroom.
The captions are a combination of Dadís own words, stories he told, personal memories, and facts extrapolated from the written record. Because he believed that every picture told its own story, viewers should read each of the featured images as an autobiographical sketch from the life of a gifted artist, who pledged his own peculiar brand of genius toward enlightening others to the dynamic majesty of Mother Nature and the broad diversity of her human children.