Jim Wallace started taking photographs for Duke when he was nineteen years old. More than forty-six years later, he took his last official shot for the University Photography office in December.
He's seen the university through historic events, from campus violence in the 1960s to presidential visits to NCAA championships. But what he enjoyed most, he says, was taking photos of Duke faces and places. "Duke people have always been cooperative in having their photo taken," Wallace says. "It's not an easy thing--a lot of people don't like it, but everyone always ends up being helpful.
"When photographing someone, you're looking for what props would be appropriate to incorporate in the shot. You want to end up with an interesting photo of the researcher in his or her environment."
Wallace was on the scene February 13, 1969, at the time of the Allen Building takeover and, later, when students outside the building clashed with police. "I was outside between Allen and Perkins Library," Wallace recalls. "I was with Ben Powell, the university librarian. I remember seeing the students being overcome by tear gas. Ben and I tried to get the students to get the heck out of there.I shot a few pictures and got away. The gas was drifting our way, and I was starting to tear up.
"The other thing I remember was there were students on the other side of the quad who were trying to stay in their rooms. Some said they were studying. But the tear gas drifted their way and they had to leave the dorm."
One pleasure of being a campus photographer was getting to photograph one of the loveliest campuses in America, Wallace says. "I loved shooting the gardens. Each season brought a different kind of photo. Fall and spring are the best seasons. Every winter, I look forward to spring, and every summer I look forward to fall.
"Of course, photographing the snow is always fun as well. It brings out interesting behavior in people. One of the things I like about the bus stop photo, if you look closely, you can see one of the kids' tongues is sticking out. He's trying to catch snowflakes."
Portfolio: A Life in Photos
January 31, 2006