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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Project 66: Series #5 - Sentinels

Tim Mulcahy Photography
October 6, 2016

by Tim Mulcahy

grave sentinels stand
noble or humble alike
perpetual vigil

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Project 66: Series #4 - Artistic License

Artistic License

Project 66 Series #4
Tim Mulcahy Photography
September 6, 2016

Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC

By its very nature photography typically requires an existing “subject” - a landscape, a person, a flower, a building or a whatever - as the starting point for image creation.  This reliance on an existing subject poses a serious challenge in the creation of unique, creative images that transcend the innate objectivity of the photographic process, thereby distinguishing them from the glut of "pictures" out there in the ever-expanding photoverse.  To succeed, the creative photographer should use the object or objects before the lens as the substrates for, rather than the subjects of, the creative process.  They are the raw material and not themselves the final artifact.  The ultimate objective of each photographer should be the use of this raw material in the creation of compelling photographs bearing their unique visual signature.

In my case, photography’s default objectivity poses an additional challenge.  The raw material for my own work often includes the creative works of others, particularly architecture and sculpture.  Believing that in such cases images that are too objective or too faithful in their reproduction represent a form of visual plagiarism, I am sensitive to a need to creatively differentiate the images I create from the original subjects. I aspire to create unique, visually-interesting compositions that put a premium on visual elements that I value, for example the relationships between geometric shapes and the light and shadows that accent them.  For me creative vision is a self-imposed, honorary royalty payment to the original artists, a mandatory artistic licensing-fee that only when paid justifies the use of their art in the creation of my own.

Project 66 Series #4 provides a classic case in point.  For each of the six images included in the series I have attempted to put my creative signature on works of art – the architecture of the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC and select items in its collection.

I hope I have succeeded in paying just royalties.

The Inner Circle

Number 9. Number 9. Number 9.

The Templar's Gate

Awaiting the Arousal of the Sleeping Muse

Reflections of Thomas Struth's "Pergamon Museum I" on the exhibit case
displaying Constantin Brancusi's "Sleeping Muse".

Ribbon of Light and Shadow

Interpretation of Sergio Camargo's "Column".

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Project 66: Series #3 - Photomon Go

Photomon Go

Project 66 Series #3
Tim Mulcahy Photography
August 6, 2016

I’ve been inspired by the latest digital craze – Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go extols players to grab their cell phones and:

“Get on your feet and step outside to find and catch wild Pokemon.  Explore cities and towns where you live – and even around the globe – to capture as many Pokemon as you can.  As you walk through the real world your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you’re near a Pokemon.”

Chasing down imaginary monsters isn’t really my cup of tea so I devised a similar sport for photographers - Photomon Go.  Rather than digitally capturing cute, imaginary creatures with their smartphones as they walk through the real world, in Photomon Go photographers set out to digitally capture photomon - creative mirror image-like photos that “reflect” reality.  I piloted the game on a recent trip to Chicago and am sharing some examples of photomon (along with their Pokemon-like creature names) that I captured and logged into in my personal Photodex.

I haven’t yet figured out how to make cameras automatically vibrate when players are near compelling “photomon”, how to market the Photomon Go app or how to make any money in the process.  But while I’m working out all those details I hope fellow photogs will continue to beta test the concept and help me make Photomon the next Pokemon.

To help get you get started I've added this guide to photographing reflections.

OK. Let's Go!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Project 66: Series Number 2 - Marilyn and Joe

Marilyn and Joe – An Architectural Metaphor

Project 66: Series Number 2
Tim Mulcahy Photography
July 6, 2016

Act 1: Icons
When the two twisting, award-winning Absolute Towers were completed in Mississauga, Ontario in 2012 the locals accomplished the ultimate in anthropomorphism by dubbing the skyscrapers the "Marilyn Monroe Towers" in recognition of their curvy shape, so reminiscent as they are of the voluptuous bombshell’s sexy physique.

When photographing modern buildings I too often anthropomorphize them in my mind, assigning them personalities or other human traits.  Sometimes I even go beyond personification with my architectural images, imagining stories in which they feature prominently. Such is the case with the Marilyn Monroe Towers.  

After reviewing a series of images I made of these two modern architectural wonders and reading a little background on Ms. Monroe's life I started to recognize in the images of the towers more than mere similarities to Marilyn's curvaceous physique.  An architectural representation of the "twisted" love affair between Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio also began to emerge. To my mind the towers' linkage with Marilyn Monroe, however figuratively (pardon the pun), combined with the obvious twists and turns of their cutting-edge design render the Two Towers unique anthropomorphic devices for illustrating the twisted love affair between these two super celebrities.  

So here is an American romantic tragedy presented in six pictorial acts.

A Twisted Love Affair 

Act 1: Icons

At the time of their introduction Marilyn and Joe were both super stars – two larger-than-life American icons.  After a short romance Joe and Marilyn were joined in matrimony in 1954 in what was dubbed at the time as “The Marriage of the Century”.  However, it wasn't long before marital bliss eroded under the weathering pressure of unrealized, and perhaps unrealistic, expectations.  

Act 2: Subjugation

From the outset Joe expected Marilyn to give up her acting career and to settle in as his demur housewife.  Over the ensuing months he continuously attempted to subjugate her to his vision of the quintessential1950’s home-bound wife.  He became progressively frustrated by her insistence on continuing her very public persona.

Act 2: Subjugation
Act 3: Jealousy 

Accustomed to being the center of attention Joe also quickly became jealous of Marilyn’s popularity, broad sex appeal and ability to snatch the limelight wherever she went.  When he was with Marilyn Joe was repeatedly forced into the background. This shunning only exacerbated the proud baseball legend's growing animosity towards his mate.  The relationship took a serious turn for the worst after Joe, angry about the now classic photo of Marilyn standing on a subway grate with her white halter top accordion dress blowing up over her waist, physically abused her when she returned home from the photo shoot.  Unable to take any more, Marilyn divorced Joe a mere 9 months after their marriage on the grounds of “mental cruelty”. 

Act 3: Jealousy
Act 4: Depression

After their separation and several other failed relationships, including her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn slipped into depression and was forcibly institutionalized.  All of her friends failed to come to her aid.  But Joe, who still harbored a deep abiding love for Marilyn, rescued her from the mental institution yelling at the staff “I’ll give you five minutes to get her out here or I’ll tear this f–king place apart brick by brick.” 

Act 4: Depression
Act 5: Renewal

Her rescue by her hero Joltin' Joe sparked a renewal of their love affair.  Soon afterwards the two allegedly planned to marry again.  Tragically, Marilyn was found dead of an overdose of sleeping pills on August 5, 1962. She was buried on the very date of their planned second union.  

Act 5: Renewal
Act 6: Steadfast 

Devastated, but undeterred by her death, Joe remained steadfast in his love of Marilyn.  She was forever in his heart.  Friends relate that he never stopped thinking or talking about her.  Until his death in 1999 he had roses delivered to her gravesite twice a week - as he had promised her when they were first married.  He never entered another serious relationship and on his deathbed his final words were “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again.”

Act 6: Steadfast

With just a bit of imagination, I believe that the two have been re-united in Mississauga.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Project 66: Series Number 1


Homage to a 1935 Ford

Project 66, Series #1
Tim Mulcahy Photography
June 6, 2016

On a recent quest to capture images reflecting the theme “decrepit, run-down, antiquated” I had a photographic encounter with a rusted-out, old hulk of a car. I immediately bonded with the vehicle, attracted to its once noble character reflected as it was in elegant lines, curves, and rich textures – all now enhanced by history-revealing dents and dings. I surmise that in its lifetime it had been loved, abandoned, gutted, vandalized, salvaged or otherwise neglected for over 80 years, yet it retained much of its original dignity to my eyes.

At the time of our first acquaintance I did not recognize its model year or even its manufacturer. Virtually all recognizable identifiers had been sold to collectors, stolen by vandals or erased by time. After lots of research I’m pretty sure it is a 1935 Ford V-8 sedan. During my automotive genealogical exploration I uncovered Ford’s original 1935 sales brochure extolling the qualities and virtues of this then modern marvel, each of which, according to Ford, contributed ‘its rightful share to the car’s pleasing personality.’

I accepted the brochure's dual invitations to “let no angle escape your appraising eye” and to “critically examine this car’s exterior.” I’ve paired quotes from the original brochure with six corresponding images from my photographic appraisal of the car’s current exterior. Despite the disconnects between its original and current states - or perhaps because of them - the “personality” of this once-upon-a-time technological marvel shines through, galvanizing in my mind its deserved status as a respected elder of its kind – and a survivor.


All italicized text is from the 1935 Ford V-8 Sedan Sales Brochure, Ford Motor Company, 1935

“Cars have personalities – just as people do. Every line and outward detail of the 1935 Ford has been made to contribute its rightful share to the car’s pleasing personality. This well-groomed appearance is the result of designing every unit to fit the large ensemble. Horns, for instance, have just the right new curve and flare to accompany the bullet head-lamps and the broad, heavy fenders. Hood louvres are new, with vertical flute curves to reflect highlights. The handsome bumper guards are custom-designed. The radiator decoration is a precision-made ornament in keeping with the swank of the whole front-end.”

"Bullet-type headlamps with rustless steel rims sparkle brightly just above smart new horns."

"The highly crowned fenders combine handsomely with the large 6.0 x 16 tires with wide treads."

"All the spokes of the famous Ford wheel are welded into a single piece of steel embracing the rims and the hub.  Such a wheel is practically good forever."

"Instruments include a large speedometer - an electric oil gauge - engine temperature indicator - ammeter, and fuel gauge.  A roomy compartment for gloves or maps is in the dash.  This is the ingenious revolving ash tray in the dash.  The ash tray may be removed to accommodate a beautiful radio dial."

"The gas tank filler cap which is cleverly recessed in the left rear lamp bracket is more readily accessible than ever.  The tail lights have reflex glass."

"The sloping rear end gracefully disposes of carefully handled highlight body moldings."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Project 66 - A Photographic Celebration of My 66th Year

May 4th marked my 65th birthday and the first day of my 66th year on this incredible blue marble we call planet Earth.

To mark my 66th year I have decided to undertake a year long photography project I have dubbed "Project 66". Starting on June 6th (6/6; ie. "66") and then on the 6th day of each of the next 10 months I will post on my Tim Mulcahy Photography Facebook page a photo essay consisting of exactly 6 images. The total series will therefore consist of 11 series of 6 images each (total 66). The final series will be posted on April 6, 2017, just under one month shy of my 66th birthday.

Project 66 will be a creative challenge for me and hopefully an appealing visual experience for all supporters of Tim Mulcahy Photography. I have lots of ideas and look forward to sharing 11 original creative series with you.

So help me embrace my 66th year by following "Project 66".