David Mutti Explores Passion For Photography

A snapshot of David Mutti's work

David Mutti - A snapshot of David Mutti's work

There comes a point in life when one has to make a decision to follow a dream or be more pragmatic.

For David Mutti of Woods Hole, that crossroads came in 1970, shortly after he moved to Falmouth after graduating from Marlborough High School a year earlier. He had briefly attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, in an attempt to pursue a career as a photographer and painter. 

Ultimately, he deferred those dreams to become a chef, starting off as a lunch cook atThe Flying Bridge in Falmouth. “After I moved to the Cape I started a family and there was a point where I had to decide whether to continue being a starving artist,” he explained. “That’s why I decided to become a cook and put off an art career.” 

So professionally, over the next four decades, Mr. Mutti spent his days slicing and dicing meats, fish and vegetables, preparing them in assorted ways for tourists and residents alike on Cape Cod. 

His résumé includes stints at the Black Duck of Woods Hole; the Village Cafe on Falmouth's Main Street; The Regatta of Cotuit; and The Boathouse in Falmouth. He opened his own restaurant, Ben and Sam’s Ribs, Chicken and More in Waquoit briefly, before spending the past eight years as the head chef at Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub & Restaurant.

During that time, Mr. Mutti held firm to his passion for the arts, bringing those talents to his job as a chef. “As far as I’m concerned, cooking is a form of art,” he said. “Most people eat with their eyes and then taste it... I initially started cooking for the sake of cooking, but soon I discovered there was an art to it.”

He occasionally had the opportunity to showcase those skills at cooking competitions held in Boston, where he regularly earned prizes for food sculptures he created.

Art As A Means Of Expression

And every so often, Mr. Mutti would pick up a camera or a paint brush and tap into his more creative side. 

“The thing I like about painting is it gives you a feeling, an endorphin, so that once you start doing one painting you can do three or four more in one day,” he said. “It is almost like a rush.”

That feeling is magnified with photography, which he termed “instant gratification. You get to see almost immediately what you’ve created after the picture has been developed.”

Although he dabbled in these pursuits over the years, it was not until roughly five years ago that he began to more seriously return to the visual arts, particularly photography, as a means of expressing himself. 

He was spurred on by the advancements made in digital photography, which significantly reduced the cost of taking a picture because it eliminated the need to purchase film. “You can take 2 to 3,000 pictures on one [memory] card, then adjust the coloring on your computer and it’s pretty cheap to have them printed,” he said. 

His return to photography also coincided with the explosion of Facebook, on which he had the opportunity to enter amateur photo contests. He often earned first-, second- and third-place finishes based upon the votes of his peers. 

That gave him confidence in the work he was producing and encouraged him to continue taking more photographs. “The Internet gives you a really good forum for photography,” he said. “When you put these pictures on Facebook, people comment on them. They say, ‘Where can I buy one of these?’ or ‘You should write a book or have a show.’ I took it as inspiration.”

Taking The Leap

After continuous encouragement from friends and strangers, Mr. Mutti took a leap of faith on Labor Day of this year, leaving Liam Maguire’s to return to the crossroads he arrived at in 1970. This time he chose to follow his dreams. “It is something I’ve always wanted to do my entire life,” the 60-year-old Mr. Mutti said. 

He has a small number of pieces available for purchase at Spilt Milk Tattoo & Boutique on Main Street in Hyannis. The bulk of his sales are done through Facebook and Etsy, where he is listed under MuttiArtography.

There he has been able to find an audience for his work, while creating friendships with complete strangers, from New Jersey to Paris to Saudi Arabia, who all share his passion for photography.  

Over the holidays, his reasonably priced photographs have done well with consumers, affirming the decision he made in September. “When someone else buys one it makes you feel like you should have been doing this a long time ago,” he said. “To see that there are people out there willing to pay for your photographs is really rewarding and it feels very nice.”

He specializes in landscape photography, often driving around the Cape with his brother, Gary Mutti of Falmouth, to find the perfect backdrop for his pictures. “When you live in a beautiful place like the Cape there are so many things to take photos of,” he said. “That’s the reason I came down to the Cape; taking picture of it makes me very happy.” 

In addition to his brother, his daughter Carly assists with the business, which includes refurbishing old frames from local thrift shops, the Falmouth dump and Cape Cod Pickers on East Falmouth Highway. 

Although the business is still in its infancy, Mr. Mutti’s goal is to continue on the upward path since he returned to his creative roots. “Eventually my goal is to be self-sufficient,” he said, admitting that “I wish I had done this my whole life. I could have done this earlier, but with having to be responsible for five children it is kind of tough.” 

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  • cmorreale

    What a wonderful article! David's Photography is amazing and I have several pieces in my California home!