PRESCOTT — Arizona native Barry Goldwater changed the American political landscape when he ran unsuccessfully in 1964 as the Republican nominee for president and by serving five terms in the U.S. Senate.
He became the “conscience of the conservative” and an elder statesman with an independent streak.
Less known about Goldwater is that he was an accomplished photographer in his own right.
“What stands out about his photography is in the eye of the beholder,” his son, Michael, said. “More and more, you are seeing fewer black-and-white photos.”
Barry Goldwater traveled to the far reaches of Arizona to take photos of Navajos and other Indians, as well as of geological formations, such as to Rainbow Bridge.
The trek to Rainbow Bridge, a national monument now accessible by boat on Lake Powell, involved a nine-mile mule trip, Michael recalled.
While visiting Rainbow Bridge in the early 1940s, Goldwater met and befriended a famous photographer noted for his black-and-white landscapes — Ansel Adams, Michael said.
Michael, who lives in Scottsdale, said he accompanied his father on his photography expeditions.
“Anytime that I got a chance to get out of school,” he said. “Camping trip was a good reason.”
Michael talked about his father’s photographic legacy during a reception Jan. 12 for the exhibit of Barry Goldwater’s photography in the Smoki Museum. The Smoki houses 21 Goldwater photos, including one of a Native American that he printed himself, museum executive director Cindy Gresser said.
Barry Goldwater’s mother taught her son to use a box camera to record pictures of family outings, according to the museum’s newsletter. A Phoenix photographer taught him about how to use a darkroom and the importance of lighting.
Goldwater used a variety of cameras that included a Graflex and a Rolleiflex, his son said. The Senate press corps gave him a 35mm camera, which he used later in life.
Some of his equipment is on loan to the Center of Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Michael said.
Michael said his father admired Edward Weston, and Claude Bate was his mentor. He added his father at one time used a darkroom as small as a kitchen sink.
Michael spoke for only about 10 minutes, and answered questions and listened to testimonials about his father.
He urged his audience to view his father’s photos at www.goldwaterphotos.com. Barry Goldwater had strong ties to Prescott. His uncle, Morris, was Prescott’s mayor, and Goldwater announced his campaign for the president on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse.
Goldwater’s photography garnered praise from several people at the reception, which drew about 60 people.
“His artwork is beautiful,” Jerry Barnes, a retired aerospace writer who lives in Surprise, said before the reception. “His pictures are great. They catch the scene, something I could never do.”
Charles Krauskopf, a retired psychology professor at Ohio State University who lives in Prescott, said he admires the detail.
“Foreground and background,” his wife, Joan, interjected.
Charles commented, “He never fell into the deliberate manipulation of the whole (photography) thing.”
Goldwater’s son also signed copies of a book with 50 or more photos from his father: “The Eyes of His Soul: The Visual Legacy of Barry M. Goldwater, Master Photographer,” that the Arizona Historical Foundation published in 2003. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will benefit the Smoki Museum.
The Goldwater photography exhibit runs through April 28.