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Barry Goldwater's photographs of the West
August 24, 2010 9:34 AM   Subscribe

In addition to being a five term US senator, Barry Goldwater was an accomplished photographer, particularly of people and landscapes of the American West.

via @TelstarLogistic.
posted by Nelson (27 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Accomplished photographer tends to mean a lot of things nowadays that photography is mainstreamed, but these photos are actually pretty beautiful. Great find.
posted by tmcw at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2010


We're #1 Mountain, Arizona.

I'm always a little leery of the dead guy turns out to have been a great photographer phenomenon, since anyone with a camera can take a handful of great photographs in their lifetime—it's the editing that counts, and who knows who's doing it once dude's deceased, let alone who's doing the printing, a process that, in the right hands, can zhoozh things up considerably?

That said, these are awesome, and I'm pretty sure it's safe to say Barry Goldwater was indeed a pretty great photographer, among other things.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2010


Extremism in the pursuit of beauty is no vice; moderation in the avoidance of red-eye is no virtue.
posted by Dr. Grue at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm old enough to remember when Goldwater ran for president and how the Democrats made him out to be such a bête noire so it's always a pleasant surprise for me to find out things like this about him.
posted by tommasz at 10:07 AM on August 24, 2010


Nice. The landscapes vary in quality, but some are heartstoppingly beautiful, and the portraits are outstanding.
posted by bearwife at 10:20 AM on August 24, 2010


Wow - I had no idea. Thanks for sharing this great find.
posted by yoga at 10:36 AM on August 24, 2010


You know what other right-wing politician dabbled in the visual arts?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2010


Oh, to live in a world where a U.S. senator and presidential candidate can say this without thinking twice: "He was a professional model I met in a park in Mexico City in 1952."
posted by chavenet at 10:42 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what other right-wing politician dabbled in the visual arts?

Visual arts, no. But man can John Ashcroft make me want to ram red hot pokers in my ears.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. Some nice work there. Goldwater was such an interesting guy.
posted by brundlefly at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2010


I did not realize how much of a social liberal he was. That's awesome.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:36 AM on August 24, 2010


I saw a documentary about him a while back made by his grand-daughter, and was surprised to learn that he and his wife were involved in Planned Parenthood. Nowadays, it's so hard to imagine someone like that calling themself conservative.
posted by brundlefly at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2010


I'm always a little leery of the dead guy turns out to have been a great photographer phenomenon, since anyone with a camera can take a handful of great photographs in their lifetime—it's the editing that counts, and who knows who's doing it once dude's deceased, let alone who's doing the printing, a process that, in the right hands, can zhoozh things up considerably?

I think in this case it's a pretty safe claim; he had a book, People and Places, published by Random House in 1967. It's listed in Google Books (length 86 pages), although there aren't any page images. The Equipment page on the website is an excerpt from the book.

Goldwater was also an avid amateur radio operator (callsign K7UGA) and did a lot of DIY/homebrew electronics. If that article is to be believed, he even had regular QSOs through the 80s with someone in the Soviet Union.

Kind of a renaissance man.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:17 PM on August 24, 2010


tmcw: I think you mean made less expensive and thus more democratized? Millions of Americans had cameras, even better 35mm ones, long before the advent of digital. It was always a democratic medium. People just didn't have elaborate post-processing facilities available via computer. That and the ability to get more practice via the ability to take more shots without worrying about loading film are what changed (although some critics apparently see that as detrimental--I don't, but I do think it's good to slow down and think about a shot sometimes, if not all the time). Why would your definition of "accomplished" change, though? I don't get it. Sounds like a bit of an insult wrapped in a compliment there. "Oh this is all easy peasy now, but these are good anyway." Huh?

Anyway, I was about to recommend that doc, that played on HBO. Watched that with a friend a couple of years ago, and we couldn't stop talking about it afterwards. Really good stuff.
posted by raysmj at 12:26 PM on August 24, 2010


Visual arts, no. But man can John Ashcroft make me want to ram red hot pokers in my ears.

Hey now, John Ashcroft does indeed dabble in the visual arts! Why, his "Spirit of Justice, Covered Up" is reminiscent of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2010


Huh, someone paid attention to the "zone" system.

Not bad.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2010


You know what other right-wing politician dabbled in the visual arts?

Churchill was quite a good painter.
posted by pracowity at 1:14 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous. But he still can't marry my daughter.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:09 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm always a little leery of the dead guy turns out to have been a great photographer phenomenon, since anyone with a camera can take a handful of great photographs in their lifetime—it's the editing that counts, and who knows who's doing it once dude's deceased, let alone who's doing the printing, a process that, in the right hands, can zhoozh things up considerably?

In addition to what Kadin2048 said, a number of the photos have notes by Goldwater about the places they were exhibited, and some even have his comments on the development process.
posted by kenko at 2:28 PM on August 24, 2010


In response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell's opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, "Every good Christian should be concerned", Goldwater retorted: "Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the nuts."

I would pay for a photograph of that.
posted by spaltavian at 3:35 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


another Goldwater story:

in 1971 Senator Goldwater was to introduce a plan to enlarge Grand Canyon National Park. the Havasupai "tribal area" was to be completely incorporated into the Park under the new plan. so the tribe invites Goldwater to hear their complaints and to reiterate prior demands that all their historic land (the plateau) be returned to them. incredibly, Goldwater listens and makes a complete about-face: the bill he introduces returns 250,000 acres to a meagre 250 Havasupai constituents---its the single largest return of tribal land ever (he resigned his Sierra Club membership as they opposed the land deed). the book to read is Stephen Hirst's I am the Grand Canyon: the story of the Havasupai People.

its obvious from the photos that he took a real interest in native americans.
posted by dongolier at 4:26 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice pix.

Barry's an interesting character. My shop steward- a gay, self-proclaimed Marxist-said he read 'Conscience Of A Conservative,' and said that he walked away with a grudging respect for the man.
posted by jonmc at 5:14 PM on August 24, 2010


Goldwater was pretty supportive of gay rights, and said so before most liberals were talking about it. "You don't need to be straight to fight for your country, you just need to shoot straight."
posted by spaltavian at 5:20 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's sad is that Barry Goldwater would be run out of the Republican party these days for being too liberal.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:23 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was hoping to avoid a political discussion with my post, but in retrospect these photos are interesting in part because Goldwater is such a distinctive political figure. I was really moved by how direct and honest his portrayal of various Indians are, it suggests a sort of empathy for people who were ethnically, culturally, and financially not at all like him. The landscapes are impressive, too. They speak as someone who really lived in the West, not just hailing from there.

I'd be curious to see Goldwater's own prints; a lot of the web images are super contrasty. That may be how Goldwater printed them himself, but it carries over a bit strong on the screen. It also kills me how many of the images are crooked, with non-level horizons. It's an odd detail and I can't tell if it's an artifact of the images never being edited, or if Goldwater just intended them that way.
posted by Nelson at 5:32 PM on August 24, 2010


Barry Goldwater represented an honest, principled stand on politics rarely if ever seen nowadays. His interest in photography is just another part of that - this is a man who had interests and curiosity as a human being, and not simply a carefully plotted path to power.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:47 PM on August 24, 2010


These pictures are amazing. By his notes, he has a healthy and well-informed interest in the people, culture, plants, animals, geology, climate, and landscape of Arizona. That's a rare trait in any person much less a politician. This man loved Arizona for all the best reasons. You can tell when you find someone like that because they make you love that place too, even if you've never been there before.

(Disclaimer: I have been to Arizona, but I was stupid and never actually looked at it other than a place to put Phoenix. I really wish I could see it now.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2010


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