Speed, action, danger, corporate logos, pop icons—these are the defining elements of Darryl Moran’s stock car racing photographs. The first official photographer hired by NASCAR, Moran was responsible for capturing all aspects of the races. His images depict the frantic pace of race day as well as the camaraderie of the drivers, intimate moments with fans and family members, and the support and spirit of the pit crew. During his tenure, the self-taught artist captured such legendary drivers as Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Terry Labonte, Tammy Jo Kirk, and Harry Gant.
Moran’s pictures were some of the first to capture the emotion of the races and the compassion of the drivers and fans. His images, taken initially for his own interests, caught the eye of NASCAR executives, who felt that they signaled a new direction for the sport’s image, one that focused on a broader scope of experiences and not just the technicality of the race and its winners. The exhibition explores Moran’s development of this new vision of NASCAR, one that continues to shape the images of the sport today.
A self-taught photographer, Moran received his first camera, a Polaroid Instamatic, at the age of eight. After an uncle took him to see Star Wars in 1977, Moran became fascinated with the movie and wanted to know everything about how it was made, from the cinematography of the film itself to the black-and-white candid shots taken behind the scenes by Gary Kurtz, one of the film’s producers.
Encouraged by his family and art teachers to pursue his passion, Moran spent hours in bookstores poring over photography magazines and how-to books, and practicing basic techniques with a Pentax given to him by his uncle. After high school, while working a full-time job, Moran freelanced as a wedding and event photographer. In 1993 Moran was hired by DuPont to photograph Jeff Gordon. Impressed by his work, NASCAR hired Moran in 1996 as its first official photographer.
Since returning to Philadelphia, Moran has worked for the Franklin Institute, the Barnes Foundation, Parkway Museums District, the University of Pennsylvania, Freedom’s Foundation Valley Forge, Eastern State Penitentiary, and many others.
The exhibition was accompanied by an illustrated digital catalogue, and has been featured in the latest episode of Woodmere's podcast, Diving Board. To subscribe and listen, click here.