In 1948, 13-year-old Fred Ward’s family departed the small-town ethos of Huntsville, Ala. for the bustling, balmy Miami, Fla. Perhaps it was the cross-cultural exchange of multicultural south Florida, or perhaps it was the thought of a larger world connected by letters and packages, seen by his postal worker father, that made young Fred dream big. Whatever the inspiration, one of his high school teachers saw it and had an inkling that giving Fred the tools to capture the world would serve his dreams. It was true; from the first printing of Fred’s photograph in the school newspaper, he was enamored with the power of photojournalism.
Two years into college, while on a summer stint at the Miami Daily News, Fred got an assignment to photograph a graduating Gables classmate, Charlotte, who loved writing and editing. The spark was vivid as the two recognized each other’s talents. Fred was two years ahead in his class and, waiting until he could not wait any longer, took Charlotte out on a date her first night at college. From then on, their fate was sealed. They stayed together at the University of Florida until Fred completed his master’s, while Charlotte finished her BA and earned her teaching certificate, one year after their marriage. Not forgetting his serendipitous debut in the Coral Gables High newspaper, Fred earned his way through college by photographing for student and local papers, while studying political science. In a postmodern era of sociopolitical turmoil, he began to realize the potential to show truths, to reveal the hidden, to share the silent stories.
As though Fred’s camera was a natural part of his body, he excelled quickly in his skills and was rewarded with the opportunity to teach photography at UF, just one semester after taking his first course in it. He and Charlotte spent their downtime at Ginnie Springs, where Fred set his heart on using the crystal-clear water to his advantage. Scuba was relatively new and the Aqua Lung had just hit the market. Fred ordered his Aqua Lung as soon as feasible and commissioned custom-built Plexiglas casing for his camera. He and Charlotte had no formal training in diving — it wasn’t widely available — but true to form, Fred jumped in feet first. They stuffed rocks into their pockets to help them dive and, at the bottom of the springs, discovered a new passion that would reflect their lifelong love for each other.
They frequently dived with friends from south Florida, Jerry and Idaz Greenberg, in…