Frequenters of Irish Twitter and proud Corkonians alike will have been hard-pressed not to have come across the work of emerging Cork-based photographer Terry “Hance” McCauliffe over recent months. Bursting onto the scene with his “Cork Noir” series, which captures the more intimate and urban sides of the real capital in all of its neon-tinted glory, McCauliffe’s work soon began gaining popularity among the people of Cork. Having garnered thousands of likes and followers across his social media platforms, it’s evident that Terry is a talent on the rise with a lot of success to look forward to. However, reaching such a level is never an overnight journey, and Terry sat down with Byline to tell us about where, for him, it all began.
Terry: “So, I’m currently the manager of Topshop/Topman and have been for the last 9 years, but I’ve always been interested in having creative hobbies like painting and music production. I did the sound engineering and music production course in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa but my love for movies and cinema took me in the direction of picking up a camera last year”.
Express: Just out of curiosity, where did the ‘Hance’ nickname come from?
Terry: This is kind of embarrassing but, when I was a baby, my family and aunts and uncles used to say all the time “Aw, isn’t he handsome!”. They used to say it so much that my uncles just called me ‘Hance’ for short. This started when I was maybe one or two years old; I’m in my thirties now and I’m still only known as Hance within my family!
Express: Why is it you take intimate pictures of streets and people rather than the grander and more conventionally photographed sites in Cork?
Terry: I just love the story that people add to pictures – the mysteries and questions that can be asked about this unknown person. That’s also why – for the most part, anyway – I don’t like to get a full shot of the person’s face. For me, I think it takes away a bit of the mystery. I want to create images of Cork that are relevant and also timeless, but [pictures] you don’t see on postcards that you send to your relatives in America!
Express: You’ve managed to capture Cork in a fresh new way and it’s clearly popular. What do you think it is about Cork City that lends itself well to street photography?
Terry: Cork has changed so much over the past ten/twelve years, it’s nearly unrecognisable. The cultural diversity; our food and coffee culture; [the] music scene and fashion – all of this has really made me fall in love with the city, which for a long time I’ve taken for granted. I think Cork stands toe-to-toe and holds its own with the big hitters like Belfast, Dublin, and Galway. This is why I want to show the city in this fresh new way.
Express: You must be delighted with the popularity of the ‘Cork Noir’ series. How did the idea for that come about, and why take the pictures at night?
Terry: Yeah, I’m delighted that it’s resonated so much with people, especially with people outside the photography community who seem to appreciate what I’m doing. How the night shots came about was honestly because I leave for work at 6:30am when it’s still dark, and leave work at 6:30pm when it’s getting dark – especially in Winter – so I kind of didn’t have a choice. When we were in lockdown, I was watching a lot of movies and Taxi Driver was one that stuck with me, especially when I was walking the empty streets of the city. [It] just had a creepy feel and a real sense of loneliness and Michael Chapman’s cinematography from that movie was in my head when I was thinking of shots around the city.
Express: Why take pictures of local pubs, shops, and other establishments? Is there something about them that you feel is an important part of Cork City?
Terry: I feel these are the places that, as locals, we like to recognise and have a relationship with. We visit these establishments every day and think they don’t possess any photogenic value – compared to the more obvious sites such as the churches; cathedrals; Patrick’s Hill and the Shandon Bells, which have all been heavily documented over the past hundred years and will continue to be for the next hundred. But when I look back at old images of Cork, I like to look at where the old businesses were and how the city has changed. Most of the pubs, cafés and buildings that we have today will most definitely not be around in a hundred years.