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Tom Darden, a State House photographer known for his work capturing the photos of five Maryland governors, has died, according to a social media post by his daughter.

“To those who knew my father, ‘Space,’ aka Tom Darden, he passed away today,” Karen Jacob stated on Wednesday in a Facebook post. His family did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

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Darden captured images for Maryland Govs. Marvin Mandel, Harry Roe Hughes, William Donald Schaefer, Parris Glendening, Robert Ehrlich and acting governor Blair Lee, who filled in for Mandel after a mail fraud conviction.

But Darden knew more than the governors he photographed; he became a figure in his own right within Annapolis and the greater community.

The Capital managing editor at the time, Tom Marquardt, said Darden’s reputation set a precedent even though he had left the paper when Marquardt joined in 1977.

“When I think out of all the photographers, Tom was a pioneer who developed a reputation that far exceeded the newspaper,” Marquardt said.

“Photographers back then developed a reputation in the community because they were there to take photos of sporting events, Boy Scouts ... Tom was well-known.”

Glendening even joked with Darden about his well-known status among reporters, other officials and the general public.

“How many people in Maryland do you think you do not know?” Glendening recalled asking Darden to which the photographer laughed.

“We would walk in and he would be upfront and taking pictures and I’d hear someone say, ‘Hey Tom,’ and then look at me and say, ‘Oh, hi, Governor,’ ” Glendening said.

Darden was born and raised in Annapolis, attending Annapolis High School in 1962, according to a Washington Examiner story. After school, Darden entered the photojournalism industry and worked for places like the Washington Star and Baltimore News American before he became a photographer for The Capital.

Darden later became the state’s photographer, where he captured images of governors from Mandel to Ehrlich. But even as a State House photographer, his reputation as a considerate but humorous person did not go away.

Candy Thomson, who was a Baltimore Sun reporter and Anne Arundel bureau chief in 1990, said that despite being competitors, Darden was always “confident, calm and welcoming."

Thomson recalled when the two had to work in the rain, she said Darden grabbed her umbrella to help her and her notebook stay dry.

“Tom reaches out and has my umbrella and I am trying to get a quote,” she said with a laugh.

His kindness to reporters extended to other photographers, like Joshua McKerrow who first encountered Darden at a Fourth of July parade. McKerrow attempted to get closer to photograph then-Gov. Ehrlich and, when Darden noticed him, he ended up letting him through the crowd and past the state troopers, McKerrow said.

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“He gave me the access. He was this older, totally senior and legitimate photographer, who was giving me permission to be there,” McKerrow said. “He was always happy to see another photographer.”

Those who worked with Darden all pointed to his sense of humor, and mainly his laugh, as something they remember most.

He had a big personality and a big laugh, Ehrlich said. Remembering Darden’s laugh prompted Ehrlich to laugh.

“He never took himself too seriously, but he took his job seriously,” Ehrlich said.

The two first met when Ehrlich served in the House of Delegates. While Darden was out with his camera, Ehrlich said the statehouse photographer knew when to grab the photo and when to stand back.

For Ehrlich, the photos of his children stand out the most.

“My children were so young so we have some wonderful pictures of the years of their growth,” he said. “Watching them grow up in pictures is a big perk of being in that office ... your children growing up is captured in real-time and that is pretty cool.”

Glendening said he hangs the photo Darden captured of Bill Clinton’s visit to Annapolis, as well as photos of Glendening in schools.

“His personality was such that he would capture the moment, and he would quietly sink into the background. I am sure he enjoyed it but never became the story himself,” he said.

Darden retired from working as a state photographer in 2007.

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