Walter McDonald, who grew up in Orange, Texas, worked in the late-1960s as a photographer for The Albuquerque Tribune, a newspaper that ceased publication in 2008.
It was during his time at The Trib that McDonald met Frank Crabtree, who was hired in 1967 as the first director of the Albuquerque Museum. McDonald and Crabtree talked about a museum project employing street photography, a style that emphasizes spontaneity through the use of candid photos. But McDonald left Albuquerque for a newspaper job in Dallas before Crabtree secured funding for the venture.
“I had been in Dallas maybe a year when I got a call from Frank Crabtree,” McDonald said. “He said he had got a little budget (for the project) if I didn’t need much money.”
McDonald quit the Dallas job and went back to Albuquerque for what he figured would be a two- or three-month project. It stretched into eight months.
“They gave me a desk at the museum and a little name tag,” McDonald said. “But most of the time I spent out.”
He photographed people getting on buses and crossing streets Downtown, dogs trotting along sidewalks, kids playing in yards, a pickup football game in a city park, a movie being filmed on Central Avenue, vendors and shoppers in Old Town, a meter maid writing a parking ticket, foot-deep floodwater at Lomas and Broadway, people at the New Mexico State Fair.
“They wanted street photography and that is what that was,” McDonald said. “I saw more of Albuquerque in that eight months than I had seen when I lived there before. And probably more of Albuquerque than some people who have always lived there.”