A selection of photos from Tom McLaughlan a.k.a. daruma
shadows play while men work
– 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.