The square, generous Prairie-style rooms exude “Munger Place” around every corner. But the photos lining the walls speak of other, more exotic, and often more dangerous locales:  Saigon, Beirut, Paris.

“I lived abroad for years,” says Nancy Moran, leading a framed tour of many of the places she has seen through the lens. The photojournalist, who began her career as a reporter for the Washington Post and New York Times, and has had work published in Life magazine and Time, has a rather serendipitous explanation for her current address.

“I’d never really been to Dallas before I moved here,” she shrugs.  “I was tired of living in New York – had been there about 12 years – and it was time for a change.  At the time, I had a friend with a ranch in the Panhandle so … I like the idea of Texas.”

And just like that, in the mid-1990’s Moran moved from the top floor of a building in Soho to our neighborhood.

“I had worked on a couple of jobs with (Dallas photographer) Brian Boyd, who lived in a big, old Hutsell house in Lakewood,” she says, referring to Clifford Hutsell, well-known in Dallas for his eclectic Spanish architectural style.  “When he drove me over here, I had no idea where I was – I didn’t even know there was a lake three blocks from his house.”

But, she says, “I knew I wanted an old house in East Dallas.”

After a couple of years, Moran found her home.

“One day I drove up to this house with my Realtor, and it was for rent, not for sale.  But I said:  That’s my house.”

It’s not difficult to see why she fell in love with the house.  It has broad, stained millwork, enormous windows and a carefully preserved vintage personality.  It was in one of Dallas’ preservation districts, but that didn’t phase Moran.

“I think it’s fine, basically,” she says, of dealing with the constraints based on homeowners in such districts.  “I did it in New York, and it can really be a pain.  But in the long run, it’s for the good.  Especially in a place like Dallas, where there aren’t a whole lot of old neighborhoods that have lasted.  I think the landmark commission has been very good about working with people here.”

Earlier in her career, Moran had faced much tougher challenges than dealing with preservation codes.  She spent two years documenting the Vietnam War in Saigon, and after that traveled through Northern Ireland, Beirut and Saudia Arabia.

In 1997, a year after she moved to Dallas, aviation company Pratt and Whitney chose her to photograph the recreation of Amelia Earhart’s last flight.  Moran flew around the world in 75 days, shooting 300 rolls of film and publishing a coffee table book.

Not all of her assignments have been quite so taxing … “I’ve photographed Donald Sutherland, Francis Coppola, Harrison Ford,” she says.

And these days, Moran has become more focused on Texan faces such as Ramona Bass and Herb Kelleher.  There also have been some furry mugs thrown into the mix.

“It’s amazing how much people love their dogs, and how dogs are a huge part of people’s lives,” says Moran, who will spend hours watching a canine subject roll and romp in order to capture its true personality.

“I’ve photographed my own dogs, Tiger and Dallas, a lot.  So I guess that’s where I got the idea.”

Of the more mainstream two-legged portraits that are her stock and trade of late, Moran says:  “I don’t want to do the kinds of portraits that most people do, which is kind of … glamour portraits.  People get their family portraits done, and they dress up and put on a lot of makeup and make the kids sit still and make everyone look kind of like the ‘perfect family.’

“That’s not what I do,” she says, explaining how she came up with her ‘Day in the Life’ concept.

“I would rather show people how they really live.  It takes more time that way, but it’s also more fun.”


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