Timothy Duffy is a renowned photographer and founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Timothy has been recording and photographing traditional artists in the South since the age of 16, when he became interested in ethnomusicology. After earning a BA from Friends World College and MA from the Curriculum in Folklore at the UNC, Timothy and his wife Denise founded Music Maker Relief Foundation in 1994 to assist traditional musicians in need.
As a photographer he edited and took many of the photographs for Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, and was the sole photographer for the nationally touring exhibitions: We Are the Music Makers! & Our Living Past. Both exhibits received support from the NEA. Timothy Duffy’s photographs were published by 21st Editions in a monograph entitled BLUE in 2017 — his current project is a monograph published by UNC Press in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art entitled Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs. Works from Blue Muse will be premiered in a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art in April 2019. Timothy’s work has been featured in TIME Lightbox as well as the NY Times LENS Blog.
Duffy’s photographs are in permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the New Orleans Museum of Art, Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, and the Morris Museum of Art.
“ …Duffy’s images have a timeless quality. One has to look hard for clues that bely their vintage appearance, if any are to be found at all. The lengthy process of making a tintype means Duffy might work all day for just four or five shots, greatly increasing the level of attention devoted to each one…Because there is no photographic negative with tintypes—the tintype itself is the source material—Duffy was, until recently, limited in his ability to exhibit the work. But a chance meeting with Steven Albahari, the publisher of literary art bookmakers 21st Editions, led to a partnership that will allow the images not only to be duplicated, but to be printed in an unusually beautiful photographic process…Because the platinum palladium process allows for one of the broadest tonal ranges in photographic printing, the end result seems to glow, its subject almost jarringly proximate. The ink becomes ingrained in the paper, rather than sitting on top of it, allowing for a depth uncharacteristic of the medium…Taj Mahal, a Grammy-winning blues musician who has known Duffy for more than two decades and recently posed for a tintype, credits Duffy’s work not just for its rich aesthetic quality, but for his genuine respect and affection for his subjects. ‘So many photographs of older bluesmen or African-Americans are more voyeuristic, as opposed to the energy of the people—what they do, what it is they’re into—coming across in the photograph,’ he tells TIME. But Duffy ‘never treads on people’s dignity.’”
– Eliza Berman, TIME