Dylan Culhane (b. 1981)
What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?
Landscapes and portraits.
Describe your photographic style.
My primary focus is on multiple exposure photography, but more broadly speaking my preoccupation is with in-camera techniques like distortion, blur, long exposure, filtration and decay that manipulate objective reality towards abstraction.
Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life
and the way in which you view the world (around you)?
Multiple exposure photography first presented itself to me in the form of technical error, in my early days as an avid ‘Lomographer’. Over several years I developed this aesthetic, spurred on by the desire to make work that was original and evocative; images that would really draw you in and keep you looking as long as possible.
More recently I’ve realised how this approach to photography has fundamentally affected the way I see the world. Photography tends to celebrate the idea of a ‘decisive moment’ but, with respect to Henri Cartier-Bresson, this is entirely contrary to our experience of reality. Reality is in perpetual flux, never settling for an instant and accordingly our perception of the world is messy and multi-dimensional. Photography is the physical component of exploring this metaphysical idea; the hands-on work I do to make sense of my evolving world view. I’d go as far to say that photography has played a major role in my spiritual awakening.
Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a
shot, and your approach to a new body of work?
My approach for multiple exposure photography is to perceive an environment as open mindedly as possible. So (for example) I’ll look at the lichen on a rock near my feet and then at a mountain in the distance and think how they might be unified in a single image. After all, they’re unified in my perception of that moment. Both the rock lichen and the distant mountain are part of this moment I’m in, this moment I’m trying to capture.
Regarding bodies of work, I question that construct sometimes. It can feel like photography isn’t substantial enough unless it’s grouped into a coherent series of images. I think I only have one body of work, which is an ongoing collection of half-imagined urban and natural landscapes; my lifetime’s work.
Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?
I work as a creative director for a company that creates video and photographic content, so even though I don’t shoot for a living, my knowledge of photography and film-making is crucial to what I do. I sell a fair amount of prints in my personal capacity, but not enough to justify giving up my day job at this stage.
What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.
Most of my work over the last 10 years has been made with a Nikon F100 & 35mm prime lens. I even have a brand new F100 I found a while back in a box waiting for the day my current body falls apart! I love playing around with unusual lenses, with the Petzval 85 and Helios 44-2 being two favourites. For medium format work I use a Mamiya 6, and maintain that it produces the most pristine images you’ll ever see.
I don’t get too hung up on film stock because I don’t need to worry about perfectly rendered skin tones and whatnot when working in the abstract realm. I love experimenting with different stocks all the time, but good ol’ Fuji Superia 400 is probably my favourite — it’s affordable and offers the degree of latitude I need for multiple exposure photography.
Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and
enthusiastic about your work?
I think I’m lucky to have started my photographic journey in a paradigm of experimentation with the medium, and I have a feeling this preoccupation will keep me busy for a lifetime. Currently I’m building an online shop to sell my prints, so I think the next chapter in my journey that will keep me enthusiastic will be more entrepreneurial than creative. I’ve exhibited quite widely and used to own a photography gallery, but I’m deeply disillusioned with this old-fashioned, exclusive, and often exploitative mode of selling art. I’m very excited about the new frontier of self-determination open to all artists in the online age.
What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or
things that generally inspire your image-making process.
There are tons of photographers whose work I love and admire (Ryan McGinley is probably at the top of that list), but honestly very few have any influence on the work I do. I think I’m more inspired by ideas in painting that emerged in the previous century (Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism); ideas that exploded our straightforward conception of the observable world.
What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)
I love hiking and just being outdoors. The intersection of my passions for nature and photography is a source of immense joy in my life.
Any tips for aspiring film photographers?
You absolutely have to experiment in order to find your unique voice. Infrared film with a star-point filter underwater at night? Sure, why not?? Tumblr and Instagram are breeding homogeneity, so try hunting for old photography books at charity shops and markets instead. Some of the wildest photographic ideas I’ve ever encountered – and tried out – were buried in a really corny-looking book called ‘Adventures in Color-Slide Photography’ c. 1976!
What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)?
And what do you hope to achieve in the future?
My online shop should hopefully be live soon, and I think I’ll need to validate that endeavour with a new exhibition later this year. I started photography when I was about 15 years old, and I’m playing the long game. My greatest ambition is to be regarded as a master of the art form and still creating fresh, compelling images when I’m in my eighties.
All photos by Dylan Culhane
Multiple exposures on film
DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.