Johnny Martyr. Walls.

Humpty Dumpty fell off one.

Pink Floyd said we’re all just bricks in one.

And so for a time, I have been rather obsessed with, yes,


Specifically, really old ones with a lot of character and a story to tell.

There’s a bit of insanity in staring at walls.  We associate trying to convince an irrational person of an obvious concept as “talking to a wall.”  And trying to accomplish impossible things as “beating ones head against a wall.”

4151871834_c6a3046f57_bFor a time, I photographed abandoned mental hospitals in and around Baltimore.  Perhaps I was soaking up some of the residual mental illness and ghosts, or maybe just the lead paint, asbestos and rat crap.  But I got a little crazy about walls.  I showed my work at a few galleries and a magazine used my photos of a hospital in Owings Mills, Maryland.  Galleries and news were more interested in the things in front of the walls.  But I was more interested in just the walls.

30479287925_1a88e4dc60_bLittle or no context.  Just me.

And a wall.

4156633123_849d16be69_bPhotographing walls may seem simple enough.  Certainly, these look like simple images.  And that is what I was trying to accomplish.

4156629971_7717497c27_bWhile I’m sure cool images can be made from other angles and with different light, what I was trying to do was copy the wall.  Plainly.  Straightforward.

Even light.  Lens perfectly parallel to the wall.  Level lines.  Matter of fact.  There it is.  Right in front of me.

4151883710_0f742533b1_bA Wall.

If these walls could talk, what would they say?

4688625792_0967fc79b9_bThis is my most famous wall.  Though arguably, it is an image of a shopping cart.

4415723099_0c46111ca3_bThis is one of my more recent walls.  I only shoot black and white now.

26789610896_9c496f737b_bThis wall has a payphone.  In addition to walls, I have also gotten hung up on payphones.

imageThat one wasn’t perfectly straight.

But what wall really is?

Thanks for looking at walls with me.  Usually I have to do it alone.


(All images produced using Kodak and Fuji 35mm films with a mix of Leica, Voigtlander, Olympus, Nikon and Kodak cameras and lenses and are copyright protected by Johnny Martyr)

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11 thoughts on “Johnny Martyr. Walls.

    1. I wanted to put these images together for years and had submitted them to local galleries a couple times without success. Nobody’s going to stop me from hanging them on this wall though! While writing, I felt that the images didn’t need explanation or a lot of fluff and this is really at the core of what they’re about. A bit of simple looking and hopefully meditation on each photo Thank you very much for reading!


    1. As a professional artist, you’re encouraged to produce work in sets throughout a finite period of time. But I just have these sort of ongoing sets of work that are added to slowly, one by one, over years. Definitely some of my “classic” postcards here! Thanks, Ann.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To me your walls portray an acute eye for patterns and detail, even though they are shot simply! On a deeper analysis, your walls could represent the obstacles before us or in us, decayed with age, overcome or not, leaving scars, wrinkles, and tattered memories!


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