Former Voice photogs remember mentor McDarrah

At the “McDarrah Family Photo Show,” from left, former Voicers photographer Bill Bernstein; Pegy Goodman, who worked in the newspaper’s art department; and photographer Sylvia Plachy, with Tim McDarrah, Fred McDarrah’s son, who organized the three-day photo exhibit at Howl! Happening. Photos by Bob Krasner

BY BOB KRASNER | Tim McDarrah, son of the late renowned photographer and photo editor Fred W. McDarrah, remembers when he started to become aware that his father was doing something special.

“I was in high school,” he recalled. “I was embarrassed because my friends’ dads put on a suit and tie and went to work. I wasn’t even sure what my dad’s job was. People like Andy Warhol would call the house, but I didn’t realize that these people were of any consequence.”

Photographers Carrie Boretz and Richard Sandler.

But then kids began to come up to him and say, “Wow, your dad works for the Village Voice?”

Standing in the Howl! Happening gallery on Sunday, he was surrounded by photographers who spent some of their best years working for his father at the Voice. Their pictures, on the walls for just a three-day show, are a testament to the breadth and integrity that the elder McDarrah fostered at the paper, where he worked for more than 50 years.

Allen Reuben, right, discussing his photographs, displayed in the case, with Susan Ferguson.

Titled “A McPhoto Family: Photography from the Village Voice,” the exhibit contained none of Fred’s images, though his photo work is quite notable. Instead, the show concentrated on the work he mentored and celebrated.

Many of these distinguished photojournalists and portrait makers began working for McDarrah as interns while still in college. The position was unpaid, but if they shot a pic that got published, they got paid.

Adam Mastoon remembers being in that position in 1984, while still a student.

“My first assignment was to shoot Jean-Michel Basquiat — I had no idea who he was!” he said.

Harvey Wang, who is known, among other things, for his iconic photos of Adam Purple and his Lower East Side Garden of Eden, at the “McDarrah Family Photo Show.”

Harvey Wang was the very first intern, in 1974.

“The assignments brought me to places that I would not have been otherwise,” he recalled.

Richard Sandler cherished the fact that McDarrah nurtured people’s creativity.

“He allowed you the freedom to do whatever you wanted,” he said. “He supported the creative side of you rather than the commercial side.”

“He was the only editor I knew that used the word ‘f—’,” recalled Deborah Feingold. “His language was rough and tough, but he was so kind.”

Adam Mastoon with his portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Sylvia Plachy pondered for a minute and said, simply, “It was probably the best time of my life.”

Allen Reuben, who contributed to the alternative weekly from 1977 to 1987, was equally succinct.

“I miss it all,” he said.

Tim McDarrah organized the show.

“I was thrilled that so many photographers are here,” he said. His dad would have been equally thrilled, he added, “not for himself, but because everyone else is getting the recognition they deserve.”

For Lori Grinker, also a Voice veteran, the show and gathering of alumni was very moving.

“It was very moving and nostalgic,” she said. “It makes me a little sad.”

She then put into words what many of her colleagues were probably feeling: “It would be fabulous if Fred were here.”

Gloria McDarrah, Fred McDarrah’s widow, center, with their sons, Tim McDarrah, left, and Patrick McDarrah. Fred McDarrah is seen shooting in the photo on the wall behind them.

Artist Chris Tanner and performance artist Karen Finley at the HOWL! “McDarrah Family Photo Show.”

Writer Bill Bastone, left, and photographer Marc Asnin worked on stories together. Asnin’s photo of a man with a gun is at right.

At the McDarrah show, front row, on the floor, from left, Deborah Feingold, Tim McDarrah, Andrew Lichtenstein, Andy Freeberg and Allen Reuben; next row, seated, from left, Harvey Wang, Sylvia Plachy, James Hamilton, Carrie Boretz, Richard Sandler, Lori Grinker and Susan Ferguson; standing, second-to-last row, from left, Danuta Otfinowski, Kristine Larsen, Michel Delsol, Pamela Duffy, Nevin Shalit, Adam Mastoon, Caroline Howard, Linda Rosier, Janie Eisenberg, Pete Kuhns, Catherine McGann, Unknown and Ricky Flores; back row, from left, Charles Wemple, Darren Lew, Bill Bernstein, Marc Asnin and Tom McGovern.

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