Timothy Duffy

Timothy Duffy’s life has been driven by the musical traditions of the American South. His championing of these traditions starts with the people who make the music. For decades, he has partnered with musicians and documented their lives in stunning photographs. His tintype photographs transport viewers into an otherworldly space that transcends time and place.

Russell Lord, the Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, Prints, and Drawings at the New Orleans Museum of Art says this about Duffy’s work, “The process he uses, the tintype, an American innovation, dates back to the nineteenth century. It requires coating a metal plate with a wet, syrupy solution that holds light-sensitive chemicals. The plate must then be placed immediately in the camera and exposed to the subject before it dries completely. Much like the improvisational qualities of the music that his subjects play, the best tintypes often result from incidental effects of the process—drying too quickly, oversensitivity, slight ripples in the surface of the emulsion. Duffy welcomes these as flourishes or nuances that elevate the image beyond the realm of technical achievement.”

Duffy met Vines in 2015 and embarked on a physical and mental journey as Vines revealed the hidden places and stories of his Eastern North Carolina home. This collaborative artistic exchange has transformed their respective bodies of work. Duffy planned his shoots for six months just absorbing and taking in Vines and his work. Duffy states, “Working with Freeman taught me how to see the life in objects. Just the things that are around. The nature of objects. This journey has had a profound impact on me, all of which I have yet to understand.”

All photographs © 2020 Timothy Duffy