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'Newsman' Photo Show Chronicles Herald Photographer's Career

  When photographer Tim Chapman retired from The Miami Herald in 2012, he had an archive dating back 40 years. Chapman documented some of the most significant moments in South Florida history. Now, he's found a home for that archive, at the HistoryMiami museum. That donation — and Chapman's career — is celebrated in a show called Newsman now on display at the museum.

Credit Battle Vaughan / Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Tim Chapman covers the Mariel Boatlift in 1980.

  Chapman said he never changed over his 40-year career, even as photographic technology and the newspaper business changed dramatically.

"My goal was to shoot one frame that showed what was going on in the world on the biggest story of that day," Chapman said.

His work included photographing the Mariel Boatlift and its aftermath, as well as the drug wars that reached from Colombia to Miami in the 1980s. But he said the biggest single story of his career came early — the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana in 1978.

Chapman was working late when the news about the massacre and the shooting at the airport came over the wire. He said he always kept $2,000 stashed in his locker and when he heard the news, he headed straight for the airport.

Without photographers documenting that kind of event, "Who's going to believe that 912 people died?" he said. "About 250 of them were children. They were murdered by their parents. You go in there, your job is to record that."

Chapman kept meticulous archives of his work throughout his career and gave it all to HistoryMiami.

"The truth is, the exhibit shows a newspaper's history," he said. "And I do feel that one day a little boy will say, 'Daddy, what was a newspaper?' And he'll say, 'Let's go to HistoryMiami and I'll show you.'"

The exhibit is scheduled to be on display at HistoryMiami through Aug. 14.