He wasn’t the first man I saw working on the asphalt crew. But he was the one with the beard. The others were younger. Some so young they could have been his kids or perhaps a grandchild although that’s a stretch.
I knew right away I wanted a portrait of this man whose face and frame bore the burden of time and hard work at the end of the day.
At first, I received the normal glances and brief stares as everyone in the work crew wondered who is that man and why is he here with cameras? The best protocol is to stand offsite across the street for a few minutes. This gives the crew time to think about your presence and begin to think about how you might be received if approached.
It also gives me time to figure out who’s supervising, who is the newest member of the crew, what is their work flow, and who among them might make the best subject.
When I’ve discerned most of the series of studies the photo work begins.
I saved the portrait until the last moment after the heavy rain shower and until the crew finished most of the heavy work breaking away the old pavement and began to make repairs.
Earlier my subject briefly used the pick to begin the task of breaking up worn and cracked asphalt before turning it over to the youngest member of the group so I knew I had what the photo prop would be.
He retrieved it for me then stood in two different places as I found the best background with the walls of the Tai Chi house being the best. He is also facing the open parking lot where light from the overcast skies was brightest. Facing any other direction cast too dark a shadow on his eyes.
Shot for about three minutes standing on my tiptoes to get the best angle against the brick wall. I did use thePhotoshop Healing Brush to remove a sign from the background. This isn’t photojournalism and I’m fine with making a portrait look better using a myriad of tools. If I’d been on assignment for a publication it is unlikely I would have singled out a worker for a portrait unless it was part of the assignment. If it had been part of the assignment, the crew would have known and I would have brought a small lighting kit.
Like it so much I made it My Final Photo for the day. It was a tough choice between the asphalt crew worker and the two kids in the rain walking down the sidewalk in Uptown Westerville.