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John McDonnell was 14 years old when he started working as a professional newspaper photographer for the Loudoun Times-Mirror in Leesburg, Va. He shot all of the sports photographs and developed all of the pictures for the paper, an experience that led him to a freelance job covering Virginia for UPI. In 1978, he joined The Post, where he had the opportunity to work with one of his favorite photographers Dick Darcy. "I used to look for his work every day. A couple of years later, I became a colleague of his," recalls McDonnell. "Then a couple of years after that he retired and I took his job." In his years with The Post, McDonnell has covered, among other local, national and international stories, figure skater Tonya Harding's collapse in the 1994 Olympics, the Reagan White House and D.C. society. McDonnell and his wife, Suzanne, live in Alexandria, Va.