Footprints of Passion

Fred Ward

Visionary works by renowned photographer Fred Ward, whose work has been published in Time, Life, Newsweek, and National Geographic magazines, will be on exhibit in Malibu City Hall to commemorate his life and work. 

Ward, who passed away this summer in his Malibu home, will have a larger than life display of his photography recapturing his footsteps from around the world. The opening reception and memorial will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2:30 p.m.

Fred Ward’s son, Chris Ward, also of Malibu, said he wanted to make the best presentation of his award-winning dad’s photographs — but he also wanted to make them come alive. 

“This exhibit will allow a number of people to experience his moments as they walk through the display for themselves,” Chris said. “We decided to reprint the photos on aluminum because it is vibrant and glows, which reflects Malibu as well.”

Cultural Arts Commissioner Suzanne Keith Zimmer said the group feels so honored the family is sharing his life and work with everyone in Malibu. 

“Fred Ward was a witness to political icons,” Zimmer said. “We are very fortunate to have this exhibit in Malibu.” 

Ward was a longtime Washington photographer who captured images of the White House, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. After the Kennedy assassination, his image of Jacqueline Kennedy mourning with her two little children before the casket appeared on the cover of Life Magazine. 

Restless, Ward didn’t just stay in Washington. He traveled to over 130 countries shooting events and generations of people including the Dalai Lama, the Beatles, Elvis, Fidel Castro and many celebrities. He was a scuba diver, pilot, gemologist and writer. He also served as a member of the Washington press corps and the White House News Photographers Association. 

“My dad would travel for six months and take photographs, and then come home and write about what he shot for six months,” Chris described. 

Charlotte Ward said her husband wouldn’t uproot from Washington. Year after year, they visited the West Coast and would drive from Washington State to San Diego. She would ask him, “Would you live here?” and Fred always said, “No.”

One day, Charlotte was visiting Los Angeles and went house hunting in Malibu. She looked at a house in Malibu named Meteoros and fell in love with it. 

“Meteoros means ‘between heaven and earth’ in Greek,” said Charlotte. When she showed Fred the virtual tour of the property, she asked him, “Would you move here?” He said, “Yes.” The couple lived in Malibu ever since. 

The Cultural Arts Commission, which is hosting the exhibit, is encouraging everyone to attend. Amy Crittenden, the City of Malibu recreation manager, said the city council is thrilled and honored that the family is doing so much to bring this exhibit to life.

“It is not just to show his works, but to honor his memory,” Crittenden shared.  

There is also a video, which was created by Chris. His father’s slides were turned into a 17-minute video. It shows Fred Ward growing up, traveling and his iconic shots — all 600 — appear in the video. 

“It’s not to be missed,” Chris said.

Fred Ward is survived by his wife of 58 years, Charlotte Mayes Ward, of Malibu; and their four children: Kimberly Litle of Belvedere, Calif. and Park City, Utah; Christopher Ward of Malibu; Lolly Ward of Portland, Ore.; and David Ward of San Francisco; a sister; and four grandchildren.

The photographs and video will be displayed in the upstairs atrium and hallways to the civic Theater until Jan. 13, 2017.