Cath Daly

Richmond is a destination for the creatively inspired, all across Virginia, and even outside of the state. Catherine Daly is an active photographer raised in Millington, New Jersey with a unique talent for displaying the natural emotion she captures through the lens of a Canon 7d DSLR.

Daly displays the diversity of her hometown through a collection of series she has created, strung together by the organic quality that stands out in her work.

Having picked up photography in high school, she began to engage her talent by enrolling in the International Center of Photography in New York City in 2013. Daly took a narrative portraiture class in the ICP, taught by Amy Arbus, the daughter of the late, renowned photographer Diane Arbus.

She describes her time in the photography school as beneficial for her understanding of balance in her work. She learned the difference between the effects of an overworked product versus more genuine imaging.

“While art with overt narrative isn't necessarily disingenuous, it's a much more natural experience for the viewer to create a suggested narrative than to force-feed them a thought process of your own design, ” Daly said.

Daly is currently enrolled in her first year in VCU’s intensive Art Foundation program, where she hopes to expand her experience and technical abilities.

“AFO is an artistic boot camp,” Daly said. “You're forced to expand your thinking process and artistic repertoire in a narrow window of time, lest you get left behind.”

While Daly and her peers in the VCU arts program are continuously challenged to expand their creativity across different artistic mediums, she describes the program as well intended and well executed—forcing those enrolled to become well-rounded artists. She is motivated by the drive exhibited by her peers, however she chooses not take influence in the differing styles in others’ work.  

For Daly, the art she produces is meant to be a vehicle for her own self-expression instead of displaying her ability to imitate the style of those around her.

“Creating [art] is the process of translating a concept that is more complicated than a single emotion or idea, into a physical manifestation of that idea,” Daly said.

Daly utilizes multiple styles of photography, ranging from portraits and candid shots to partial and split photographs.

One of her series of photographs titled, A Portrait of Anxiety, features a collection of photos which explore the reality of anxiety in everyday life, and the toll it takes on those affected. Daly employs drama in the production of her photographs with the intent of demonstrating distinct emotion.

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What distinguishes Daly’s photography from other pieces of work is her meticulous attention to organic quality. When capturing a subject or an environment, she incorporates minimal technical editing with off-guard portraits in a way that captures true emotion from her subjects.

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Her portraits consist both of off-guard photographs of chosen subjects, and of consenting persons she came across while exploring New Jersey. She is consistently deliberate in the effect of her photographs. Her objective is to create a message in each photo that can be extracted by her audience, such as the feel of an experience she has gone through or an inner conflict in a subject.

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Daly describes finding inspiration in Richmond’s architecture. From the low building styles, to the wide open streets, she sees plenty of room for capturing natural and artificial lighting in her photographs.

During her career working towards a degree in photography and film, Daly intends to continue her foray in self-portraiture, and improve her knowledge of lighting, equipment and technique.

She plans to continue to differentiate herself from her peers, and expand on her style, while building on the narrative she has created with her previous photography.

Catherine Daly’s collection of work can be viewed on her website at Cathdaly.format.com.

View a gallery of Cath Daly's work here.

- Julius Brown