By Dirck Halstead

At 86, Charles J. McCarty looks and acts almost the same as when I first started to work for him at United Press in Dallas, Texas in 1957. He is a bit shorter these days, but then he always was short. His face is a bit more lined, but his eyes still carry the mischievous twinkle that so many photographers remember. Those
photographers, who were hired or trained by him, represent a who's who of photojournalism. Among them are David Hume Kennerly, Mal Langsdon, Daryl Heikes, Frank Johnston, and Bill Snead.

Some of them were there in Minneapolis at the end of June as the National Press Photographers Association honored Charlie with the John Durniak Mentor Award, recognizing his impact on his profession. As Shelly Katz, the Director of the Durniak Award put it "the Durniak is the only award I know of in photojournalism that is given by photographers. The recipient must be nominated and chosen by them." Other Durniak Award winners have included Arnold Drapkin, the former Picture Editor of Time Magazine and Rich Clarkson, former National Geographic Picture Editor.

Charlie McCarty enlisted in the U.S. Army signal corps during World War II when that service started using Acme (the forerunner of United Press) picture transmission equipment. He was stationed at the Western Defense Command at the Presidio and set up an Army picture network between San Francisco and Washington. After serving 3 years and 7 months in the Army, he took a job with Acme in San Francisco as a staff photographer.

In 1951, he was appointed as Southwest Division Newspictures Editor of United Press in Dallas. In 1953, he persuaded The Dallas Times Herald to award a contract to UP to run their photo department. This was a revolutionary idea, and gave Charlie a chance to start hiring young photographers. With the need to staff a newspaper, but having the clout of a wire service behind him, Charlie was able to start experimenting with fast processing and small cameras. When he started running the Times Herald photo department, the ubiquitous 4x5 Speed Graphic was the standard camera. Charlie pushed to equip his photographers with 35mm cameras.

He also tried unorthodox ideas, such as putting high-speed shutters in 35mm Eyemo movie cameras to photograph football games, in effect coming up with the predecessor of motor drives on 35mm cameras. As "McCarty's Rangers" proved the viability of 35mm in daily operation, the other bureaus began to notice. In 1953, UPI surprised the opposition by arming Stan Tretick with a 35mm camera when he went on the roof of a Denver hospital to photograph President Eisenhower during the first photo session after his heart attack. This format, along with a high-speed developer (using D76 replenisher at high temperatures) meant that Tretick's coverage was unmatched. The use of the telephoto lens on the 35mm camera totally upstaged the pictures made by 4x5 totting photographers.

The Times Herald operation began to attract young photographers who saw a chance to work with small cameras. Among the photographers Charlie hired was Shel Hershorn, who later became a Black Star Photographer, Roddey Mims from Odessa, Texas who went on to become a Time Magazine photographer, Daryl Heikes who joined the staff of U.S. News and World Report, Robert S. Patton who later became an editor at National Geographic, and Dirck Halstead, who later spent 30 years as Time's Senior White House Photographer.

With his dual hats, as Times Herald Director of Photography, and UPI bureau manager, Charlie was called on to cover the top stories, from Dallas to South America. While covering the Little Rock School integration crisis, he photographed a scuffle between white and black students that won a POY award. It also resulted in Time Magazine doing a story on him.

In the sixties, McCarty was Assistant General Manager for UPI pictures in New York. During this period, he continued to find and nourish talent, including a brash young photographer from LA, named David Hume Kennerly, who went on to work for Time and became the Personal Photographer to the President under the Ford administration. Other photographers trained under McCarty's "cruel but fair" regime were Bill Snead, now Editor of the Lawrence Kansas Journal, Mal Langsdon, now with Reuters, Bill Campbell, former Time contract photographer and now a film maker, and Mark Loundy, former moderator of the NPPA list.

In 1972, he moved to Brussels and started an innovative desking operation for UPI, which resulted in photographers working as editors in town, and as photographers assigned to cover major stories in turn throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mal Langsdon, now working for Reuters out of Paris, Gary Kemper, and Mike Theiler all came out of "McCarty's Rangers" in Europe. As UPI's fortunes began its decline in the late 80s, McCarty convinced the owners of Reuters to form a picture agency. For the next decade, he personally helped to shape that agency.

Over his lifetime, Charlie McCarty has left a profound impression on photojournalism, and the photographers who have practiced it.

Dirck Halstead

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