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Timothy Joseph Hursley (1955–)

Timothy Joseph Hursley is an architectural photographer whose works have been featured in architectural journals and museums around the world.

Tim Hursley was born on July 19, 1955, in Detroit, Michigan, the fifth of nine children, to Frank and Lois Hursley. His father was a tool engineer, and his mother sold women’s shoes. At age sixteen, he began doing yard work for a neighbor, Balthazar Korab, a pioneer in modern architectural photography. Within three months, while still attending Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield, Michigan, Hursley had become Korab’s part-time photographic assistant and apprentice.

From 1971 to 1980, Hursley’s apprenticeship taught him the craft of large-format photography and black-and-white photographic printing. As Hursley advanced in photo assignments, Korab’s approach to architectural photography influenced his images. Hursley’s photographs were artistic rather than documentary, with a keen sense of abstract structural details found at the intersection of light and form. He developed an aesthetic eye similar to an architect’s.

Hursley’s brother Greg worked as an architectural photographer in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and persuaded him to move south. In 1981, he opened The Arkansas Office. From this base, Hursley distinguished himself in architectural photography.

On June 9, 1990, Hursley married Jeanie Lockeby. The couple has two children, Dylan and Evan.

Hursley work is primarily produced as archival records for architects and occupants of innovative, modern structures. Hursley chose the Sinar 4x5 camera to document the building and their environments. Celebrated structures photographed by Hursley include: Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York City (1982); the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC (1993); the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio (1995); the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1998); the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1998); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004). His photographs are also featured in publications including Architectural Record, Architecture Magazine, The New York Times, The Independent (London, England), and Newsweek.

Hursley has received several awards, most notably a 1987 Award of Excellence by Communications Arts Magazine, a 1990 American Institute of Architects Honor Award, and a 1998 Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship.

In his most rewarding work to date, Hursley and Andrea Oppenheimer Dean authored Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency (published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2002). Spanning nine years of road trips, Hursley’s project documented impoverished residents of Hale County, Alabama, and their reconstructed buildings, designed with discarded materials by Samuel Mockbee and his Auburn University students. Significant in photographic history, Hale County people and places were photographed by Walker Evans (1936) and William Christenberry (beginning in 1961). Hursley’s photographs showed the buildings and their proud occupants. The book received excellent reviews, and its photographs were featured in several exhibits, including the “Design Culture Now” at the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York (2000) and “Rural Studio—Three Thesis Projects” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2002).

Hursley published a second book in 2003, Brothels of Nevada: Candid Views of America’s Legal Sex Industry (Princeton Architectural Press). From 1985 to 2003, Hursley photographed the architectural diversity of Nevada brothels from the grand convention centers to small mobile homes, both operational and abandoned. Although the brothels were often discounted as being unworthy of serious architectural consideration, Hursley poignantly photographed twenty-five of them. A noted detail of the photographs was the exclusion of people. “I sense the people,” Hursley explained, “the footprints of a subculture… a sort of coming together of the owners, the women and the customers, because [in] those rooms I see all three.”

In 2003 and 2004, Hursley photographed the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. Exhibited in the Historic Arkansas Museum, Hursley’s photographs documented the center’s construction from the ground up and “the site as the facade builds within the context of Little Rock.” Hursley photographed the interior and the exterior with a shutter 4x5 camera and a unique panoramic pinhole camera built by renowned Arkansas photographer Thomas Harding.

When not traveling the world to photograph great buildings, Hursley resides in Little Rock with his family. 

For additional information:
Dean, Andrea Oppenheimer, and Timothy Hursley. Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and An Architecture of Decency. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.

Kelly, Michelle. “Timothy Hursley.” Black + White, Issue 72 (May 2004): 82–85.

Robinson, Cervin. “Portfolio Hursley Hursley Interview by Cervin Robinson.” Places a Forum of Environmental Design 15 (Winter 2003): 48–61.

Rita Henry

Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated 12/15/2008

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