Photography has always been a wonderful way of revealing everything and nothing, from the majestic landscapes of Yosemite National Park to the hidden faces of plants and flowers. Sometimes it reveals the mystery of deep water creatures, other times it showcases something that's always been in every household. In this case, photographer Brian Finke shows something new in people that have always been part of the urban landscape in his project "Construction".
Since graduating with a Fine Arts degree, Brian Finke has worked for different publications including GQ, ESPN (Magazine), The New York Times and Rolling Stone, to name a few. He has exhibited and lectured extensively on his work, most notably on his previous projects on flight attendants, bodybuilders, and cheerleaders and football players.
In 2-4-6-8: American Cheerleaders and Football Players, Finke looks at the energetic Americana that is high school football and the female equivalent of cheer-leading. In Most Muscular, the muscular layers of bodybuilders are peeled away to reveal... even more muscle. In Flight Attendants, the photographer reveals a behind-the-scenes perspective of the decades-old profession. With his latest work, Construction, Finke once again turns his camera to a particular group of people; the blue-collared worker.
In Construction, Finke exhibits the same quality of portraiture found in his previous titles; tell-tale moments of individuals that capture the spirit of the larger group. Here, men and women don the stereotypical work clothes of construction workers and work in the stereotypical construction setting using stereotypical construction tools and machinery. The scenes are so vivid that one can almost smell the steel and stone being burnt, bent and hammered into place.
From high-rise condominium projects set against the skyline of a city to backhoes grinding against the dirt, there's really nothing new in Finke's collection, yet everything looks new. While Finke wanted to capture the energy and vitality of the construction boom that started in 2008, he instead got "...an honest look at what it means to be, at the daily task of being, a construction worker.”
With his Construction, Finke joins the pantheon of other notable photographers who documented manual labor: Lewis Hine and his stirring series on child labor which changed the labor laws of the US for the better, Irving Penn and his portraits of small-trade workers in Paris, and Sebastião Salgado and his somber look at today's manual laborers.
The vivid colors of these photographs are also reminiscent of the brilliant 1940s Kodachrome images of the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information which showed the construction of tanks and planes to be used for World War II. Indeed, Finke's construction series is no more than small moments captured beautifully on film, but that in itself is worth sharing: honest moments preserved for posterity.
Brian Finke's website is here, with images from his past projects. The Construction series is due to be released soon in hard copy form as well as on in his website, but in the meantime, check out his previous works on Flight Attendants and 2-4-6-8: American Cheerleaders and Football Players.