This and some others come from an early morning shoot last week at the Brooklyn piers.
For every part of me that lives and dies with line, shape, and form — the part that obsesses first over the composition of the frame, then its re-composition (if necessary) in photoshop and color correction — there is the soft voice that grumbles that there is no person to look at, no story. This irreconcilable cleft between formal image-making and narrative is where I have planted myself squarely for reasons not altogether clear. For that, the zen of capturing an image like this is partly therapeutic, partly maddening.
A man came up to me that morning. He, like the group of men he was in, was dressed in a blue zip-up worksuit and headed into an adjacent garage area. Apart from the others, he carried a dustpan — the kind that hangs and swings from a broomstick.
“Put it here,” he said. I did not understand. His accent was heavy, Mexican probably. His skin was a caramel brown and oiled, textured and not without a history. The other men in the group were black mostly and spoke in the gravelly voices of the morning. In the second that I reassessed the man apart from his coworkers, the arroyos of his accent were just beginning to flatten themselves into english I understood. I realized that I was holding a banana peel.
“Put it here, ” he repeated. This time he pointed to the dustpan. I dropped the peel in it and thanked him. My next thought was that his skin glowed in the morning light, that it would look good in a photograph.
I could hear the sound of gravel under the boots of men as they assembled on the other side of the gate.