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Daily Archives: August 8th, 2010

It is with great sadness that I learned that my dear friend and fellow Alaskan photographer Barry McWayne died earlier today.

Barry McWayne, September 2007

I met Barry McWayne shortly after moving to Fairbanks in 1992.  Barry founded a local photography club known as “Camera Arts” long before I came to town, in the 1970’s.   The name he chose for this group indicates something of the ambition he held for himself and the type of people he wished to associate with.  Fairbanks is a small town; the winters are long and cold; sometimes it seems that survival itself depends on finding and culturing a network of like-minded friends.  The club met once a month on the third Thursday (if I recall correctly), but in addition, there was an informal meeting every Tuesday, known as “photo lunch”, where photographers met at noon at a specified restaurant.  There was never an agenda, roll was never taken, fees were never charged, and no one who wanted to join the table was ever turned away.  Some people came regularly, nearly every week; some came only occasionally even though they live in town; and some returned after years of living away, to join the group when they were visiting.  Conversations often centered on films and lenses (in the 20th century) and the latest Photoshop features (in the past few years), but any topic was acceptable.  There was always a lot of laughter at the table.

Barry and I were not always interested in the same kind of photography—he loved the work of Ansel Adams, and pursued his own work with a sense of craft and vision defined by that great master.  My own sensibilities favour more recent artists, but I’ve looked at Ansel’s prints whenever I could, in museums and galleries.  And I must say that Barry, during his days in the darkroom, made prints that were (at least by technical printing standards) equal and often better than those signed by Ansel himself.  But Barry, like many other photographers here in Alaska, never found the audience that his work deserved.

Barry’s photographs that he so carefully crafted will remain.  His work is done.  May he rest in peace.  But I will miss his laughter at the table, and his willingness to welcome others to join him.  Winters will be longer and darker without him.

Barry in the Back Yard, Summer 2001

Barry McWayne, Igloo Hotel, Parks Highway, Alaska