Photographer Candace Karch And Her 97-Year-Old Muse, Marie Ulmer

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At the age of eight, Candace Karch discovered the camera, and it’s been a lifelong love affair ever since. The Philadelphia-based photographer’s unique perspective shines through all of her work, but particularly in her images of people. “I photograph people in moments. These people are characters in a fictitious book that if I sat down and wrote words, they would all be my heroes.”

This is most evident in Candace’s latest series and project, Ms. Ulmer. Candace met Marie Ulmer, a 97-year-old artist, eight years ago and they quickly developed a friendship over their collective love of art.

Candace, drawn to Marie’s exceptional free spirit and lack of self-consciousness, started photographing her. That was five years ago. The result? This series of wonderful photographs that tell the story of collaboration, mutual respect and a deep-seated friendship.

In her artist statement, Candace explains:

“Marie has made a piece of art everyday for the last ninety years. For thirty five years she worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia as a commercial illustrator. During that period, she continued her studio practice as a fine artist. Her art work, which spans over eight decades, includes a wide variety of styles and mediums. Some of the most striking works for me have been her self portraits. She used herself as a model primarily because, as she put it, ‘I drew who was available.’ She is an only child, who was never married and without children, and she devoted herself to art, her constant companion. I have great admiration for her dedication and persistence regarding her art.”

Women You Should Know connected with Candace to learn more about Marie and the future of their collaboration. “I have been photographing Marie for over five years. I have been working on these portraits as part of a book, which will include my photographs in conjunction with Marie’s self portraits over the last 90 years, with one as early as age seven. My hope is to find a publisher who is a perfect fit.”

Last year Marie moved into an assisted living facility, but Candace continues to make trips to see her and to photograph her. She tells us, “Marie will be 98 in August, and we are already planning her 100th birthday party!”

And what a celebration it will be.










Marie has her own hashtag on Instagram #msulmer and you can follow Candace here for new images and updates.

All images © Candace Karch and republished here with permission.