As Ohio State photographer Kevin Fitzsimons ’81 prepares to retire, an appreciation of him and his moment-defining images
A camera hangs around his neck like an appendage, as if years have made the object a permanent part of Kevin Fitzsimons ’81. In essence, that’s true. For his work has become his public identity.
Through that work, Fitzsimons has personalized the Ohio State experience for all of us. As a university photographer for more than 35 years, he’s been a campus conduit, a storyteller who has met each day with pride in duty.
“You’re chronicling the history of the university, only you’re doing it visually,” Fitzsimons says. “You have a responsibility to be honest and thorough.”
Through Fitzsimons, we’ve seen three-and-a-half decades of visiting luminaries bringing a spotlight to Ohio State. We’ve seen professors, researchers and university leaders in their element. We’ve seen students and alumni at work and play.
Fitzsimons has connected generations of Buckeyes through images he made possible with his personable manner and insatiable curiosity.
The people of Ohio State have, in turn, made his life’s work deeply personal and fulfilling.
“It’s been such a privilege,” Fitzsimons says.
During his 35 years as a university photographer at Ohio State, Kevin Fitzsimons has had the opportunity to not just capture images of students, leaders and luminaries but to count some of them as friends. We asked a few of those people to share their memories working with Fitzsimons, who will retire in February 2018.
"Kevin is an outstanding artist and technician. He understands his subject — and his work interprets the university with a sensitive and nuanced clarity that reflects his love of Buckeye Nation. He is truly a great friend and colleague — as well as a Buckeye for Life." Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake
“Kevin was everywhere. What I loved about him is we had plenty of conversations. We’d talk about family. I just enjoyed his company. I enjoyed every time he had the job of doing something for us, whether it was the alumni association or the athletic department. He wouldn’t get in the way of anything. We talked about everything. Family, kids, the whole works.” Archie Griffin, former president and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association
“Kevin was in perpetual motion. His presence was constant. Kevin arrived to shoot with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. His ability to capture the moment and the story was uncanny. Ohio State and thousands of Buckeyes have created so much history, and Kevin Fitzsimons was there to record it … and his images will tell stories for centuries.” Jim Tressel, former Ohio State football coach
“Kevin is an iconic figure at Ohio State. He has just been so steadfast, so supportive and loyal to this university in trying to progress its initiatives. It really is going to be sad not to have him around.” Jo McCulty, university photographer