Three Amigos

When I first envisioned doing a book of photography on a skyscraper construction project, I pictured it being mostly black & white photographs, with a few color images sprinkled through the book for an occasional a change-of-pace. But the construction scene proved so colorful that the finished book is the reverse – mostly color images, with a few black & white.

Still I am having fun going back and processing some images that aren’t in the book into black & whites. This one wouldn’t have made it into the book in color or B&W because I didn’t want any posed shots, even like this where the subjects decided to pose for me. But I do like the image. I call this one “The Three Amigos.”

When developers, investors, architects and engineers dream and plan and design, these are the people who bring their dreams, plans and designs to life.

These are the people who build the city of Nashville. Without them, the dreams and plans and designs of the developers and engineers and architects do not become reality. These are the people who, with their own hands, build America. Each morning and evening when I walk my dog, we walk by a house under construction by men similar to these. The sounds of saws and nail guns perforates the constant melodies of mariachi music. It is the sound of people who are literally making America greater, one new building at a time.

This is one of my favorite photos from the 505 tower construction site, where I photographed for more than two years – not because it is something extraordinary, but because it is so typical. As I’ve been photographing construction of the 45-floor tower from when it was a 70-foot-deep hole in the ground all the way through its completion I saw some interesting cultural differences among the workers.

I haven’t kept a count, and it’s probably different in each of the different trades, but a rough estimate is the workforce is about equally split between Anglo, Hispanic and African-American workers.

And when I point my camera in the direct of various workers, if they notice me and aren’t in the middle of something that makes it impossible for them to do something like this worker did in this photo, here is what most typically happens:

The Anglo workers almost always ignore me.

The African-American workers mostly ignore me, too, but sometimes they stop briefly perhaps thinking they are in the way or I’m trying to photograph something behind them, or they don’t want to walk into my shot. I’ll nod or wave to indicate they aren’t in the way and to continue on, and they do and then they ignore me.

The Hispanic workers do what this worker is doing in this photo. This, or something like it. Not every time, but most of the time. They strike a pose, smile huge and give me a wave or a thumbs up. And they wait until they hear the camera click, or I nod as if to say “got it.” Then they go about their work, and I can photograph them more and they ignore me.

I have no idea why the cultural difference, but there it is. And I think it is fascinating.

Previous posts related to the 505 photo book project:
Building Art
Building Images