By AFRO Staff

During his time in the Marines, JD Howard picked up a camera and decided to visually document the places he’s been and the people he saw. Almost 50 years later and his hobby has become his greatest legacy. According to his biography, Howard has documented the construction of multimillion dollar projects that have become a part of the skyline of Baltimore and Washington D.C. in the 80s and 90s. Howard led a successful career as a photojournalist, as his photos were constantly used by the Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore, Md., along with other publications. Now in retirement, Howard’s lengthy career was recently acknowledged at the 2019 Veterans Day Celebration. The AFRO interviewed JD Howard’s wife, Geraldine Howard, who will be referred to as “GH” for the purpose of this article. 

Geraldine Howard, wife of photojournalist J.D. Howard, recalls that she loved how her husband made his photography work for himself and their family. (Photo by LaTonia Sanders)

AFRO: What do you love most about JD’s work?

GH: JD is a strong willed individual who makes up his mind to do something and doesn’t stop until it is complete. I have always been told that your job should be an extension of what you like to do. If you love your job, you don’t really see it as work, but as a form of enjoyment. He  has always been very passionate about his photography. He loves people and they love him. Whenever we went shopping or to dinner, etc., you could be sure to see at least one or more persons who knew him. At one point, our granddaughter said “Granddad must know everybody in Baltimore!” What I love most about his work is that he made his photography work for him and his family.

AFRO: Describe a monumental moment that you witnessed in JD’s career.

GH: We went to visit our son, who lives in Tokyo,Japan. There is this very tall building called Tokyo Tower. He wanted to photograph it and went to stand in the street to get a good picture.  He took several pictures before the Japanese police came to ask him to get out of the street. Well he was not having it. My son reminded him saying, “Dad you are not at home.” They were going to arrest him, however, it never happen but he got the picture. At home he played an intricate part in photographing the Fort McHenry Tunnel and the subway system. To see the underground details of some of his photographs was awesome. When the earthquake happened in Haiti, he knew he had to go. He brought back some extraordinary photos, and he also attended Mandela’s funeral and the phenomenal Million Man March. 

AFRO: What influence did the military have on JD’s personal and professional life?

GH: While in the Marines, he was sent to Africa. He visited several places while there he always said he wanted to go back. He developed his attraction as a hobby, working with a fellow Marine and started taking photos of various people and activities in the military. Upon his discharge from the Marines in 1970, he started acquiring various jobs including weddings, graduation photos, construction progress photography, church activities, birthday parties, funerals, etc.  Always in the back of his mind was this need to return to Africa. What I found so extraordinary was the fact that he was able to go to various businesses and was able to get funding from them to finance his trip. Sponsors included the AFRO Newspaper, March Funeral Home, New Shiloh Baptist Church and others. When he returned, sponsors were given choices to choose photographs and he was given a place to exhibit his photographs.

AFRO: How did seeing you husband honored impact you as his wife?

GH: First, I was surprised that he was going to be honored, but after thinking about it, I felt that it was well deserved. He has worked long and hard to be recognized and enjoyed every moment and so did I.