Open Mic Friday! featuring Clare Mulvany

Happy last day of September, dear friends, and welcome to the Open Mic!

I met today’s guest, Clare Mulvany, through Tara Sophia Mohr’s Playing Big e-course. Upon visiting her website, I was immediately taken with her luminous photography — though it didn’t hurt that the site takes its name (One Wild Life) from one of Mary Oliver‘s poems! I’m so pleased to introduce Clare and her work to you.


The poetics of photographic possibility
Text and images by Clare Mulvany

BW photo of a glass gazing ball in someone's handYears ago, I made a decision. It was to enter into my life as if it were an unfolding piece of poetry. The approach was to treat life as something to be created rather than experienced, and in the act of creation, the process in and of itself would strive to be something beautiful. The thought has stuck.

Hanging lanternOf course there are days when it does not seem ‘beautiful’ or even remotely poetic. There are times when it is the essence of messy, confusing, emotional or tricky. It is the good bits, the bad bits, the bits I get right and the bits I so clearly don’t- but into the mix, I try.

Children's bare feet walking by a pile of sandalsThe poetic act too is an attempt; a fateful fling to bring something new into existence. It lives on possibility. It lives on the potential to be read and re-experienced by the reader or listener.

Small purple flowers with a mountain in the backgroundSupplement imagery for poetry and we get an approximation of what the photographic process entails for me: something that lives on the possibility of beauty, which explores the poetic in the everyday and seeks expression of the light and the dark sides, the good bits and the bad bits.

Cobblestone path at nightPhotography then is a tool. It enables seeing beyond that ordinary range of sight and offers focus, distance, and a new range through which to observe, access then filter the poetic. Walking with a camera, whether that be across the hills of Ireland, the alleyways of Dublin, the slums of Kolkata or the hutongs of Beijing- it gives me pause. Just as poetry can reveal a new order, the click of a camera shutter can reveal a new understanding of the order of things too.

Spots of light falling onto someone's sandaled feetThe camera becomes a way of telling a new story, unlayering a new poetics of living. Sometimes that is in how light is cast on a pavement. Sometimes it is in the way a glance lands across a room. It can be revealed by a simple pair of shoes, or a woman in a sari walking out of her situation with pride and dignity. Finding that new story and weaving in the poetry of it, has in turn, given me a way back into that initial commitment: to live life as that unfolding piece of poetry.

Geese in a yardTo photograph is to commit to the act of creation. To photograph is to see a deeper understanding, to juxtapose the good bits, the bad bits, the messy and the tricky. In between there is poetry, ever unfolding. And that, I believe, brings me closer to beauty, every step, every word, every click along the way.

Bird flying overhead—–

Clare Mulvany

Clare Mulvany

Clare Mulvany is a writer, photographer and development educator who is passionate about positive social change and telling inspiring stories. Find her at, or on Twitter @onewildlife.

Thank you so much, Clare!

And now — the comments are open. See you there!