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Remembering Dan Farrell Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 April 2015

His most famous photograph is of John-John saluting JFK's passing coffin on its horse-drawn caisson in 1963, a scene re-enacted by his great-grandson at his own funerals last Friday.

Farrell spent 50 yeas as a New York Daily News photographer, retiring in 1995. But his shot of John-John stands alone.

He had taken a position on a flatbed truck with other photographers across the street from St. Matthew's Cathedral. When the church emptied, he focused his Hasselblad on the Kennedy family, watching through his telephoto lens.

He saw Jacqueline Kennedy lean down to say something to John-John. And repeat it before the boy, who had just turned three that day, stepped forward and saluted his father. Farrell took just one exposure.

"It was the saddest thing I've ever seen in my whole life," he said.

Farrell, born in 1930 in Hazleton, Pa., grew up in Brooklyn. He served in the Navy during the Korean War before joining the Daily News as a copy boy.

Another famous Daily News copy boy remembered him today. In Goodbye, Danny..., Joe McNally remembers Farrell taking the time to look over his portfolio.

The fact that such a photographic luminary took the time out to look at the portfolio of a desperate copy kid was an act of kindness I have never forgotten. I was broke, running out of hope and thinking about packing it in. He looked at my pictures. He said, "Kid, you know a picture when you see one. Hang in there."

McNally repeats Farrell's mantra, "A thousand at 11." A thousandth of a second shutter speed at an f11 aperture.

As McNally points out, the Daily News has published a portfolio of his images. John-John is joined by the Beatles, Mohammed Ali, Shirley Chisholm, Coretta King, Miles Davis, Anne Bancroft, Willie Mays, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and more notables who crossed the path of his career.

He is survived by his five children. And all the copy boys he gave a moment of his time.


I love Farrell -- the guy knew by instinct that the most important part of a camera is the 12 inches behind it.

-- Michael Melnick

Well put! -- Mike

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