"My professional life has been spent intruding in the lives of others. . . wars, riots, communities, families, homes, boardrooms, bedrooms, The Oval Office, hospitals, graduations, marriages, births, deaths, you name it. A friend, who no longer is one, described me as a visual Margaret Mead, only uglier. I have no hard and fast rules about photographing people except to not interfere. I intrude but I don't interfere, a fine distinction that good journalists cultivate. Though cultures are different, the human needs are there: respect, humor, respect, understanding, respect, honesty and the willingness to share your own life with them if they ask." - Dick Swanson
Dick Swanson grew up in rural Illinois and worked on his Uncle's newspapers. He later was staff photographer on the Champagne-Urbana News-Gazette while attending the University of Illinois. Swanson then worked on the Davenport Democrat and the Des Moines Register newspapers before signing a contract with Black Star Publishing Co., in New York.
Swanson went to Vietnam in 1966, where he worked for Life Magazine. He met and married his Vietnamese wife, Germaine, there and in 1971, Life moved them to the Washington, D.C., bureau where he was Life's White House photographer. After Life ceased publication in 1972, Dick remained in the bureau working for Time, Fortune and People magazines.
In April, 1975, Swanson arrived in Saigon on the last flight in and escaped with his wife's mother, sister, three brothers and their families on the last flight out of Saigon before it fell. He has freelanced since 1980 working for the National Geographic, Newsweek and The Washington Post, among others.
His photographs have won numerous national and international awards including World Press, National Press Photographers Association, the White House Press Photographer's Association and the prestigious Page One Award. He is included in the Museum of Modern Arts' permanent collection and in 1986, was a contributor to the Corcoran Gallery's exhibition, "The Indelible Image". Swanson has covered events in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Eastern Bloc countries, the Caribbean, the Middle East and South Africa. He and his extended family live outside Washington, D.C.
The Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin currently archives Swanson's body of work spanning 35 years of work in 40 countries.
Dick is also a certified Final Cut Pro editor and is engaged in producing documentary projects for Video Action Fund in Washington, DC.