Roddey E. Mims, 46, a Washington news photographer since 1962 with wide experience and numerous connections at the White House and on Capitol Hill, died at Arlington Hospital Oct. 7 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Mr. Mims, who lived in Arlington, first came to Washington as a staff photographer for United Press International. In 1975, he became a free-lance magazine photographer and since 1977 had been a contract photographer for Time magazine.

On hearing of Mr. Mims' death, President Reagan telephoned his wife, Betty, and said, "Everyone thought highly of Roddey. Our prayers go out to you."

Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) said, "Roddey Mims became part of the events he covered. As a photojournalist, he was able to capture the mood of the moment, whether it was the look in one's eyes or the emotion in one's face. I, for one, apreciate the opportunities I had to work with Roddey as both a subject and a fellow photographer."

Mr. Mims was a former vice president and board member of the White House News Photographers Association. He won several prizes in the association's annual photo contests and had won four "picture of the year" awards and a Front Page Award from the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.

He was born in Aransas Pass, Tex., and attended Odessa Junior College and Southern Methodist University. He began his career in 1954 on the Odessa (Tex.) American. Two years later he joined UPI in Dallas. In 1961, he was transferred to New Orleans as UPI bureau chief. He was assigned to the UPI Washington bureau in 1962.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, of Arlington.