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Freedom, California, 1994. By Timothy Whelan ©

Freedom, California, 1994. Portfolio #1 by Timothy Whelan ©

By Paul Goldfinger, photography editor@Blogfinger

I met Tim Whelan in the 1990’s when we were taking a George Tice printing course at the Maine  Photographic  Workshops in Rockport. He was a modest and friendly guy who often shared fascinating photographic insights. Tim was well equipped to do that; I was blown away when he told me that he was Paul Caponigro’s lab assistant.  Caponigro is one of America’s finest photographers.

Tim’s photographs reflect some of his idols and mentors including Ansel Adams and George Tice. His photographs were classical black and white images which he printed himself in Caponigro’s dark room.

But Tim had another interest: photography books, and he opened a small bookshop in Rockport where he sold books and prints. Master photographers who taught at the Workshops would   meet and hang out in his store.   A few years ago when Tim sold his store, after 18 years, The NY Times wrote about him and how his unique photo book business was world famous.  (Tim Whelan link   )

I liked Tim Whelan’s photography very much and I bought a portfolio of some of his works.  He also gave me a set of photo-cards containing his photograph (above from Portfolio #1) called “Freedom, California.”

If  you study the image you will see more than just a scene in the woods. You will see emotional and dramatic lighting and a surprise sign of children in the form of a swing. The scene is glorious and foreboding at the same time, but mostly I see happiness.

Tim took our small class to visit Caponigro in his Rockport studio.  Paul greeted us warmly. He is not only a photographer, but a poet as well.  He signed a small book of poems for me.

Tim confided that for his work in Caponigro’s darkroom, he would often get paid in prints rather than dollars. In the end, I’m sure he did OK with that collection. And I had the chance to buy a Caponigro print of Stonehenge from Tim.  If any of you are eager to see that sometime, let me know.  I also began my photography book collection with Tim Whelan’s help.

FARAH ALVIN  (recorded this when she performed with the Marvelous Wonderettes:)

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