In Memoriam: Wally McNamee
The Briscoe Center pays tribute to renowned photojournalist Wally McNamee, who died on November 17, 2017, at the age of 84.
“I am deeply saddened to know that Wally McNamee has left us,” states Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “His passing leaves a void that will not be filled. It was a great honor to work with Wally and his late wife, Nikki, to gather and preserve the historically significant and extensive photographic archive documenting his remarkable career as one of the most productive and talented photographers and journalists of his generation. The Wally McNamee Archive, which is now housed permanently at the Briscoe Center, will continue to serve future generations of researchers as an invaluable visual resource for understanding the history of our time.”
Wally McNamee photographed every president from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush. After a brief stint as a copy boy for the Washington Post in 1950, McNamee joined the Marine Corps, where he learned the technical aspects of photography. When he rejoined the Post after his discharge from the Marines in 1955, McNamee began a career as a photojournalist that would span more than forty years. McNamee moved to Newsweek magazine in 1968, where he covered news events in Washington. He later served as the photographer for Newsweek’s special projects unit, which won a National Magazine Award for “Charlie Company: What Vietnam Did to Us.” McNamee covered every Olympics held from 1976 to 1996, and he participated in Day in the Life book projects in Australia, the USSR, Spain, the United States, and China. He eventually shot more than 100 cover photographs for Newsweek.
In 2005, the National Press Photographers Association awarded McNamee the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, the highest honor in the field of photojournalism. Since McNamee donated his archive to the Briscoe Center in 2002, his work has been used in teaching and research and featured in exhibitions, publications, and documentaries. More than 1,000 of his photographs were scanned at high resolution and can be viewed here (please allow time to load).
On the website “Photojournalism and the American Presidency,” a selection of McNamee’s historically significant photos offer the general public, especially educators and K-12 students, the opportunity to examine the relationship between the camera lens and the White House.
Briscoe Center exhibitions that showcased McNamee’s work include:
- Presidents, Politics, and Personalities: 40 Years of Photojournalism by Wally McNamee
- News to History: Photojournalism and the Presidency
- Vietnam: Evidence of War
Most recently, several of McNamee’s photos were published in A War Remembered: The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library
Obituaries for Wally McNamee appeared in:
- Washington Post
- NPPA (National Press Photographers Association)
- The Island Packet on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina