How this series and its photographs were born

The Last Smokestack is a culmination of three months’ work.

Reporter Debra Smith and photojournalists Mark and Annie Mulligan spent dozens of hours sitting in living rooms talking with people who worked at the Kimberly-Clark mill, formerly the Scott Paper Co.

The mill workers generously shared their old photos, stories and worries about the future.

Research included interviews and the written work of local historians David Dilgard and brothers Jack and Larry O’Donnell. Another key source was Norman Clark’s book on the social history of Everett, “Mill Town.”

The Mulligans, a husband-and-wife team, used The Herald’s Toyo-View 4×5 view camera for workers’ portraits.

The camera projects the image directly through the lens onto a piece of ground-glass, where the image appears upside-down and backward. It is a slow process to compose and focus the image. The subject stands still, a piece of film is inserted over the ground-glass, and the photograph is taken.

The Herald dismantled its darkroom years ago. So the Mulligans developed the film in a makeshift darkroom in their apartment bathroom.

Mark Mulligan wanted to use this camera because he felt the subject matter warranted slowing down and using a more “permanent” form than a digital snap.

Annie Mulligan recorded video and audio of many of the interviews to give readers a chance to hear the workers in their own voices.

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