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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

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15 Comments

    • Wendy McWayne Greve
    • Posted August 8, 2010 at 8:33 pm
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    Thank you, Dennis, for sharing these memories of my brother. I still can’t believe he’s gone. What a surprise to find these wonderful pics of him tonight!

    • Pattie McWayne Brady
    • Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:22 am
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    What a beautiful tribute to Barry, thank you. He was my cousin … I knew him when we grew up together in Illinois. I only had a few rare times to spend in his company in later years, but those are memories I will always treasure.

    • Monique Musick
    • Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm
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    Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Dennis.

    • Angela Linn
    • Posted August 10, 2010 at 7:58 am
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    Thank you Dennis for sharing these images and words. Barry was my friend and colleague at the Museum for 14 years – I learned so much from him. What a loss to us all.

    • Chris Arend
    • Posted August 10, 2010 at 4:18 pm
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    Thank you Dennis. Everyone in the Alaska
    photography community will miss Barry greatly. He was always generous with his comments, critiques and ideas. He truly loved photography and it always showed in his work. His support of his fellow photographers speaks to his professionalism. My fondest memories are sitting at the table with Barry, Sam Kimura and just talking photos.

    • Jim McCann
    • Posted August 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm
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    I also considered Barry a good friend these past…I dunno, 30 years or more. He was a fine and gentle man who never spoke ill of anyone. He liked to laugh. Mal Lockwood first introduced me to Barry and we talked often over coffee at Mal’s or at Camera Arts meetings and such. My personal photo collection includes a 6×7 transparency of Barry and Mal working with their 4×5 view cameras out at a gold dredge. I was upset when Barry first “went totally digital.” Recently I came out of the past and embraced digital photography and Barry, as always, was willing to help me along. Goodbye, old friend. And thanks for the memories!

    • Jake Sirevaag
    • Posted August 10, 2010 at 6:24 pm
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    I first met Barry only a short while ago due to my employment with the UA Museum. I often wondered who the hairy man with the quiet personality was. Everyone seemed to know him but me! How could I know it was his work I had admired on the walls of our gallery? I, too, am a fan of Ansel Adams and feel that Barry achieved a body of work that is every bit as masterfully visualized, captured and and finalized in print. It is our loss that he had to leave so soon but I am grateful to have made his acquaintance.

    • Malcolm Lockwood
    • Posted August 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm
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    The very best that one could ever ask for is what Barry always was. We had fine times together shooting in Alaska
    Montana and California where I first met him where we worked together. I talked him into moving to Alaska, and he came up the following spring of 1968. Barry was always there for everyone when needed. His images were always first class. I never saw one that was not tops. So long my friend.

    • Duffy McWayne
    • Posted August 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm
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    Dennis, I want to thank you for bringing these pictures of Barry to this site. I am his brother and only see him when he is visiting us here in Florida. Seeing him in his own neck of the woods is how I want to remember him. Thanks again for all you’ve done.

    • Kara Scheffer
    • Posted August 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm
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    I had the great pleasure of meeting Barry this past winter at the Tuesday photo lunches in January while visiting Fairbanks with Tim Thomas. I enjoyed his many stories and yes, there was a lot of laughter at that table.
    My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

    • Thomas Moore
    • Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:48 am
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    Barry was a friend and mentor. He was always supportive and was one that certainly touched and brightend my life. He will be surely missed. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with his fmily

    • Barbara Kelly
    • Posted August 16, 2010 at 8:51 pm
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    I first met Barry nearly 30 years ago, in the early 1980s. I was a photojournalism student at the University of Alaska and I also worked for a time as an assistant to Barry at the Univ. of Alaska Museum. He introduced me to the world of fine-art photography and to the craft of making a beautiful black & white print. His passion for photography was infectious and his encouragement and support for anything related to photography was never-ending. I remember many good times with him, at photo workshops, Camera Arts meetings, and photo lunches. He was a mentor to me as he was to many others over the years. He was also a good friend and I will miss him dearly. To paraphrase one of my favorite poems:

    Barry was a person with much wisdom,
    who made beautiful photographs for us to gaze upon,
    who touched many of us in a profound way,
    leaving us never, ever the same.

  1. It is impossible to over estimate the positive effects and influence of being welcomed into Barry’s “photo lunches” tribe. For 3 1/2 years the effects of his mentorship, friendship and support continuously elevated my confidence and has served as inspiration to me during the last 25 years on my photographic journey outside of Alaska. I am stunned at the loss of such an exceptional human being. Thank you Barry and thank you Dennis.

    • Al Geist
    • Posted September 30, 2010 at 4:34 pm
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    I arrived in Fairbanks in 1984, determined to finally get that elusive “degree.” I worked for both Barry and Richard Veazy, two incredible mentors while studying journalism. Whether I am taking a picture for inclusion in a tech manual, or trying to capture the antics of a grandchild, I can see his influence everytime I trip the shutter. I feel blessed to have known him.

    • Carol Wilbur
    • Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:58 am
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    My family became friends with Barry shortly after we moved to Fairbanks in 1965; shortly thereafter my dad became the Curator of the University of Alaska Museum – at that time it was located where Signers Hall is today. I remember spending many hours wandering through the museum, waiting for my dad to get off of work after school, and Barry was always a presence. He and my dad became good friends, and I have a lot of fond memories of Barry.


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  1. […] Tuesday, July 13, 1971:  We woke up at 6:00 a.m. to rain and left Harding Lake Campground about 8:30 am. We drove through the big campground and along Harding Lake, then out to the Alaska Highway. Intermittent houses and businesses appeared along the highway all the way into Fairbanks. The dirt Alaska Highway would soon be replaced by a freeway that was under construction from Eielson Air Force Base into Fairbanks. We stopped along the runway to watch a B-52 Jet Bomber taxi out to the runway. We waited but they didn’t take off. We headed on into Fairbanks by 10:00 a.m. Our first destination was a service station to get the tire fixed. I shopped next door at Traveland. Then we drove on to the parking area next to the China River Restaurant where we ate lunch. We crossed the Eagle River over a bridge to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce located in a sod roofed log house. Then we headed out to the College and the University of Alaska Museum, the Student Union, bookstore and so on. Drove over to Malcolm Lockwood’s home where we met Jean and her daughter Elisha. In the evening I went with Malcolm’s mother to look at Eskimo made objects. I bought a group for Christmas presents. Philip looked at prints of the University of Alaska’s Museum photographer Barry McWayne. […]

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