Dan Gillooly ’25 drives around Worcester and listens to his intuition. When he feels drawn to a location, he hops out of his car with his big box camera in tow and meticulously sets up a photograph.
Lately, Gillooly finds himself captivated by the city’s aging and abandoned buildings. Gillooly started capturing buildings in dilapidated states while learning how to use a large-format camera for Intermediate Photography class. As Gillooly snapped photos around the city, he felt called to take more. Now, he’s working on a personal project to tell the story of “old” Worcester.
“I’m documenting Worcester because it’s a city that’s changing very rapidly,” he says. As Worcester has welcomed new venues for entertainment, dining, and housing in recent years, Gillooly has noticed the city’s older dwellings are quickly disappearing. He’s motivated to document these structures before they’re gone forever.
“I like photographing older and abandoned buildings because you can see a city that’s no longer there,” he says. “It’s like a glimpse into the past, and by photographing these buildings, I’m saving that memory.”
Gillooly enjoys the slow pace of large-format film. Setting up his shot is a meditation of sorts.
“You only get one shot per negative, so you have to spend a lot of time lining up all of the angles and getting everything right,” he says.
With large-format film, the photographer peers through the camera’s viewfinder under a dark cloth.
“It allows you to detach yourself from what you’re shooting and focus on the compositional elements,” he says. “You get to live in the moment.”
Gillooly has not yet declared a major but is considering studio art. He moved from upstate New York to Shrewsbury when he was in middle school and more recently moved to Worcester.
“I’m the type of photographer who carries my camera everywhere, which is kind of how this Worcester project developed,” he says. “As time goes on, I’m hoping the photos will become even more profound as the city changes even more.”
Last month Gillooly helped art history Professor John Garton arrange the Digital Bomarzo exhibit, part of the Higgins School of Humanities Spring 2023 symposium. Gillooly processed Garton’s photos of Renaissance-period sculptures from a park in Bomarzo, Italy. He used artificial intelligence to increase the images’ resolution and sharpness and made 15 prints for the exhibition, which will be on display in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons through May 21.
Last fall, Gillooly worked on “In the Early Years: A Photo Retrospective of Clark University, 1893-1914,” a show curated by Professor Matthew Malsky, the Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49, Endowed Chair in music and director of the Higgins School of Humanities. Gillooly prepared, cleaned, and printed images for the exhibit.
Gillooly started thinking about photography as a viable career rather than just a hobby when he realized he could spend six hours in the darkroom without feeling like he was doing work. Mentorship from Professor Stephen DiRado has inspired the sophomore to make human connection a goal of his craft.
“I want to build a community where people can connect based on my photographs,” Gillooly says. “I want to give people something to talk about.”