Q&A: Todd R. Darling


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? I need to practice letting go every day. Letting go of everything that I want. Reminding myself that the universe only gives me what I need and not what I want even if sometimes they are the same thing. This is also how I approach photography. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Future generations will be baffled by our wastefulness and destruction of the natural world. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Yes. What is it that interests you about photography? Exploration and first hand experience of the way things are. It allows me to cut out the media that shapes our pre-conceptions about people, places, and important issues. I also like helping people and I still believe that photography can help us be better. Its helpful sometimes just being there for the people you are photographing, telling stories that breakdown preconceptions, and adding to historical record.  Also maybe, just maybe we get to influence government policy. What is the worst thing about city life? The traffic, noise, pollution and all that. Ive spent the last 15 years living in Hong Kong, a place that I love dearly but the pollution and congestion is fierce. I used to find all that an endearing part of the place that I lived. But that gets old after a decade. I want that fresh air and solitude. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Central and South Asia. I’ve always been fascinated by the Silk Road, the cross roads of the world  and the geopolitical forces that have been shaped by that region and will be in the future. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? ESP. that 6th sense that I think people have or potentially could tap into. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Genghis Khan. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Political Science.

What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I wished I had a camera for my grandfathers wedding.  Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. A ski patrolman. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. If I had to pick one that I thought had significant impact on me and was important to defining humanity’s struggle today it would be Tank Man.  I think people will look at that photo for a thousand years, if we are around that long. How often do you take other people’s advice? I like to think I take it when I need it. I guess I always want to take it but sometimes its important to know when to ignore it. Describe a personal hell. Flying on long flights with my kids. Which living person do you most admire? I don’t admire any one person but rather different things about many different people. On what occasion do you lie? Expressing how I feel when I don’t want someone to know what Im thinking or feeling. What was the last crime you witnessed? Larceny. I saw a guy get shook down by a dealer because he owed him money. What is the best way to educate yourself? Experience the world. Travel. What is the next book you want to read? Nigger by Dick Gregory. Ultimate camera? Im not really a gear head. Im all function. The next Canon 5D that comes out after IV. I dont think the IV was a big improvement on the III. Most used camera? Canon Mark III 5D. What object do you want? A 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Sting Ray. What object do you need? A car that I can fit 2 car seats, 2 dogs, and the interior won’t be fucked up when the dogs or the kids puke all over it. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? It’s like a super highway of information man. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? I could always be stronger and faster.  Describe a cheap thrill. Rummaging through junk. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. 9/11. Are impulses more important than consequences? No not anymore. At some point I started thinking about consequences before acting on impulses. Which talent would you most like to have? Hacking computers. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? My plan for the next 24 hours is: make prints, eat dinner with my family and put my kids to bed, watch the series finale of the WIRE, go the gym, send emails to editors, and make portraits for a series about the grassroots of hiphop that Im working on.

The Allied Textile Printing Complex, located along the Passaic River, was the site of the first mills built in Paterson in 1794. Throughout its history it has been the production site for the first Colt revolvers and America’s first skein of silk. Bob Mulcahey (50) lives amongst the ruins of the Allied Textile Printing complex in an old furnace. Bob is a veteran and has been homeless since 2014. Today, he is struggling to get housing assistance from Veterans Affairs. Aside from being a veteran and homeless, he works when he can find work and cares for a sick loved one.

This work highlights homelessness and veterans while breaking down some stereotypes about being homeless, and also America’s industrial legacy.

See more of Todd’s work — toddrdarling.com / Instagram.

Todd R. Darling grew up in Northern New Jersey. He works predominantly in still photography, but includes video in his work to create multimedia projects. He recently completed the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Centre of Photography. In 2014, he began his career as a photojournalist covering the democracy protests in Hong Kong, where he had been living for 10 years. His work has been published in Time Magazine, Grazia, and numerous online news sites. In 2015, he joined Polaris Images in New York and worked as their photographer in Hong Kong, covering breaking news events and feature stories for international publications. He is currently working on a documentary project about Paterson NJ, near the home he was raised. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Documentary Arts Fellowship for his project on Paterson. The British Journal of Photography awarded Todd with their 2017 Breakthrough Award.