These Portraits of Southern Blues Musicians Prove That Blues Is Not Dead

Tim Duffy photographs aging blues musicians and helps them revive their careers through his foundation

“ …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 Magazine, Oct. 19, 2015