University of South Carolina

Keith McGraw

Photographer captures 'slice' of Carolina life

By Liz McCarthy,, 803-777-2848

It was in 1968 in Japan during the return trip from Vietnam that Keith McGraw bought his first 35mm camera to replace his Kodak Instamatic. He regrets that he didn’t go buy that camera sooner. That should have been the first thing he did when arriving to serve overseas, he says.

It was that camera that inspired McGraw to return to school at 30 and pursue a career in something he really loved.

“With photography you get to slice off time and look at it forever,” he says. “It gives you permission to stare at everything and lets you exercise your curiosity for as long as you want to.”

After working as USC’s photographer for more than 30 years, McGraw will be retiring from the university in June. During his time at Carolina, McGraw photographed five university presidents, four U.S. presidents, countless commencement ceremonies, the Pope, Walter Cronkite and – well, you get the idea.

“If it’s happened here, I’ve probably seen it,” says McGraw, ’80 interdisciplinary studies.  “If it’s been of any historical significance for the university, there’s a good chance that I was there. I didn’t necessarily add anything to it. I just got to watch it happen.”

His years snapping pictures of almost every department on campus were close to perfect, he says. He knew he loved it about three days into the job. He says still remembers the day he got his first paycheck for taking pictures.

“It’s kept me happy. I can count the days I didn’t want to come to work on one hand,” he says.

What he has enjoyed most about working at USC is being around the people.

“I have known an expert in almost every field. If I wanted to know about something, I was just a phone call away from someone who knew everything,” he says. “That was the fun part of the job. I knew somebody who knew everything. It’s kind of like having your own private Google.”  

Here are a few of McGraw’s favorite photos – both on campus and off. 

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Posted: 05/23/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 05/23/13 @ 4:11 PM | Permalink



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