Born in 1950, John McNulty is the only child of John and Faith McNulty, both of whom wrote for the New Yorker Magazine. He attended the Brooks School, the University of Chicago, Bennington College, and NYU Film school, where he earned a BFA. He moved to New York City in 1971, where he worked as an instructor at the LaMama theatre, cab driver, and film technician. He joined the union and rose through the ranks from carpenter to gaffer and finally to Director of Photography, working chiefly in advertising for clients such as Chevrolet and Citbank.
At the same time he worked as lighting director and camera operator on downtown scene productions Subway Riders, Desperately Seeking Susan, and Wild Style, among others. He also worked as camera operator on music videos for the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Stray Cats, and more.
In 1981 he served as Director of Photography on “Downtown 81”, a biopic starring Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film is notable for its use of extremely low light and extensive handheld work in the streets of the Lower East Side and the edgy clubs of the day like the Mudd Club and Irving Plaza. It still has a cult following today.
John started a family and a real estate career in 1983. He now has four children and rental properties in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He owns a hobby farm in Rhode Island and keeps travel trailers in New York and Las Vegas, which serves as a base for a third career in photography.