When people are in their own workplaces, they are most at ease with themselves. They do not need to “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”
I like to stand and watch a little before shooting to convey my appreciation for the worker’s skill and engagement. A man’s work is his life and should be respected. It also gives me a chance to have eye contact and that makes all the difference.
There is a Taoist phrase: wei wu wei, which has been translated a number of ways but the one I like best is “doing, not doing.” When one has become a complete master of an action, he no longer has to think about how to perform the act but has become the act himself. I try to photograph this.
My subjects are almost always cooperative. They take my interest as a compliment and like to talk about their work even if it is only through gestures. Other people who share the workspace or the adjacent one always like to see the digital thumbnail. They know when you’ve caught the person and the action correctly; they are the very best critics.
I’m a retired architect. For nearly 30 years, I was a principal of FFKR Architects in Salt Lake City focusing on university / K-12 school buildings and Native American gaming projects. The last of these was Talking Stick Resort / Casino in Scottsdale, Arizona.
My wife and I now live in a heavy timber cottage built in 1823 over looking St. Margaret’s Bay in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, Canada. We have a cottage industry puppet dance theater company called Company X Puppets.
In 1989, I took a leave of absence from my firm and traveled through England and Ireland for a month with a camera. I hesitated taking a camera for I thought I would be missing the actuality of the experience. In fact, the camera made me see more deeply and compassionately. I shoot with small rangefinder or mirrorless cameras in natural light because it allows me to approach people without generating the fear of a huge camera, lens, and flash. The little camera lets me get close and makes me less of the threat. [Official Website]