tom mclaughlan a.k.a. daruma :: architectural details from City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

A selection of photos from Tom McLaughlan a.k.a. daruma


shadows play while men work










light boxes





– Hello, Tom. How would you describe this set of images?

They’re the product of my first visit to my architectural Mecca – Santiago Calatrava’s masterpiece, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. They’re in the ministract style and mostly monochrome (unusual for me) with a play on lines (not so unusual for me). There’s also a vent thrown in for good measure. I love vents and the opportunities they provide, so you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered that Calatrava had made a feature of them.

- As a photographer, what do you find interesting about urban environments and architecture? what attracts your visual attention?

I go for the detail and try to find an unusual perspective, guided by a Robert Mapplethorpe quote: “I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before”. Usually, what’s new to me, has been seen before by others, but once in a while I hope I find an original perspective. The urban environment provides so many superb opportunities to go hunting for the new.

- Which other photographic styles do you like besides architectural and urban photography?

I like lots of styles but there are two I prefer most: ministract – a mixture of minimal and abstract – and schmocus. My schmocus images sometimes have something in focus so I guess they’re not really, 100% schmocus (more shallow dof shots) but I’m fine with that. I would like to be able to photograph people better than I can and I’d also like to be better at shooting landscapes. The are so many times that I see beautiful landscapes but my pictures often fail to capture the emotion of the moment.

- What motivates you to be busy with photography, what is your goal as a photographer?

My goal is to enjoy myself and to learn. Being busy with photography is difficult because I have a hectic full time job, a family and plenty of other things. Quite often I find myself going several weeks without picking up the camera and I hate that! I also wish I lived in a sunnier part of the world – somewhere in Italy or Spain would be perfect – because then I could enjoy that superb light they have. I know that London is a wonderful city but unless you’re into monochrome pictures, it can be a bit frustrating sometimes… If I had to identify one thing above everything else that motivates me (or – better word – inspires me) then it would be my friends – the people I’ve discovered through photography who are now very, very dear to my heart. We meet, we talk, we laugh and we take photographs. Who can ask for more? I’m a lucky man.

- Do you have a ‘dream location’ where you would like to take photos? which city would you like to visit for a photo session?

Until this summer my dream location was the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. So now I need a new dream location and perhaps it would be Iceland. I would love to take some minimal landscape shots there. Yes, Iceland. That’s the place I’d like to go. It would be a wonderful experience. When it comes to cities then I think I would say Tokyo. I lived there for a few years in the 1990s and returned several times on holiday afterwards but only once since I fell in love with photography. That was two or three years ago so I’d love to return now and see if I could do better. If not Tokyo, then Hong Kong.

– What is your favorite camera?

The one I have – Carla, my Canon 5d Mark II. One day I’d like the chance to try others but I’ll always come home to Carla…

- Did you publish any photo books and where do you expose your works on internet?

I’ve published one book on Blurb that tries to bring together ministract with schmocus. DOZE Magazine (issue 4) published an article about my ministract style of photography, which was nice. Alan Wilson (Azurebumble) has published a few of my pictures on his blog, Aesthetic investigations, and in his book Hypo-X-series. And you very kindly included some of my pictures in your books, Shadé and Shadé #2. The Guardian reviewed a portfolio of mine and – strangest of all – an undergraduate included a study of my work in her major project on abstract photography.

Up until recently I only posted my pictures to Flickr but I’ve created a website now tommclaughlan.net so I also put some of them there and I’m using Google+, which I think is going to be big for photos. Once I had a picture in an exhibition, in Catanzaro, Italy, to support a cancer hospital. It was wonderful to see my picture printed and hanging on a wall.

– Thank you very much for letting me present a set of your previously unpublished photos and for doing an interview. All the best with your photographic work, Tom.

17 Responses to “tom mclaughlan a.k.a. daruma :: architectural details from City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia”

  1. 1 Iris Mackenzie
    September 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    What a fabulous collection, Tom. Each and every one of these photographs is a masterpiece. A big congratulations!!!!

  2. 2 mluisa_
    September 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    A great exhibition from a great artist.
    I love this selection .

  3. 3 Françoise Lucas
    September 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    A superb exhibition! Also great to read the interview. Congratulations Tom and Lina!

  4. September 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    A pleasure of an exhibition, Tom! a selected and very well balanced choice of your Calatrava works that sounds like music to my ears, and a very interesting interview with an absolutely sharable consideration about motivation and goals … keep on with your beautiful work: your photograph and your very personal “eye” for the world are a great inspiration, and your friendship a great support as well – thank you! 🙂

  5. 5 elen@c
    September 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

    a great choice, congratulations

  6. 6 gherm
    September 5, 2011 at 8:27 am

    This exhibition is a great one. Bravo!

  7. 7 pannaphotos
    September 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Tom, without dispute this is a wonderful selection of works from Calatrava’s masterpiece in Valentia. You really found unespected and original perspectives which is not so easy as it can appear.
    I’m so happy you wrote about the exhibition in Catanzaro.

    Congratulations, dear friend, and I wish you much success!

  8. September 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Golly gosh! Thank you all so much for commenting. And, Anna, I will never forget the Catanzaro experience – it was special to meet with friends who share a passion for photography and – through the hard work of you and Maria Luisa – were able to use it for the good of others. What an absolute privilege.

  9. 9 chr1s
    September 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Many thanks to both the Red Square Gallery and Tom, for my most enjoyable hour at work today. I’ve really enjoyed viewing this set of images and the interview/comments give great insight into what makes Tom tick both as a person and photographer.

    As a long time follower of Daruma’s flickr site, I look forward to what jewels he sees next.

  10. 10 Emanuele Minetti
    September 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    great work Tom, as usual

  11. September 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    The pictures are outstanding Tom so nice to see them as a collection.

    As to the interview – there is so much I agree with. But you probably know that already:)

  12. 12 jurek d.
    September 5, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    monochrome Tom…? but it works!!!
    superb collection and an interesting interview… THANK YOU!

  13. September 6, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I have enjoyed reading immensely about the responses of Tom’s interview and admire his philanthropy.

    What an inspiring collection of such beautiful designs, geometries and multiple forms of expression; all of which are simple and aesthetically pleasing to the eye – the art of the possible.

    Tom includes the various visual elements, design, formal elements, elements of art – all of which seems to form part of his photographic vocabulary with which he seems at ease – and are depicted in his compositions. These elements in the overall works relate to each other and to the whole of his moving towards “abstract photographic art”

    It is a pity that we are so unfortunate here, in Australia, since we are still not in possession of Calatrava’s genius… yet.
    Hopefullly the day will come when he will be invited to submit his grand designs for one of our cities.

    A true homage to the essence of Santiago Calatrava’s architecture, of his vision and of the human spirit – and of the coexistence of architecture and engineering.

    I admire Tom’s works and I have great respect for his overall expression in “structural revelation”.

    Once again, thanks to you Tom and to Bracolina for bringing us these true “Mini masterpieces….”

    Robert Melotte.

  14. September 12, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for comments and visits.

  15. September 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Your images make me want to go there and they have inspired me to look further into Calatrava…thank you for that. Your vision is compelling, you certainly achieve your goal of offering a different perspective. Congratulations on these wonderful images!

  16. 16 Julian Escardo
    October 4, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Tom, your work rocks over and over ,mate!~

  17. 17 gherm
    January 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    A fantastic ballet of lines!

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