Skilled craftspeople at work

Skilled craftsman in his work environment
Skilled craftsman in his work environment

For a few months I have been working on a personal project to document skilled craftspeople at work.

The location is a boat yard in Stuart, Florida which carries out refurbishments and repairs on yachts. Among the workforce are skilled craftspeople who repair, rebuild, repaint, varnish and finish the luxury crafts.

Within the boatyard are boat sheds, woodwork and metalwork workshops. With lots of activity going on inside or outside among the boats on the dock. Not wanting to disturb the workforce I began by visiting on different days, hanging around and observing the action as the day unfolded. By doing this the workmen got used to seeing me and my camera and very soon I built good relationships with them and was able to photograph the action as it happened.

In each area a different photographic technique was required. I shot close up in the woodwork shop to get detailed shots of the craftsman’s hands using tools. The protective clothing in the metalwork shop made for a great wide portraiture shot taking in the real location. The open doors in the boat shed let the morning light flood in. I used this as backlight in wide shots. Then I filmed the actions of the detailed, precise, preparation of the boats for varnishing.

When a large boat was being prepared for painting I was excited to photograph the action. A tent of plastic was shrouded over the vessel with ventilation panels. The only opening was through a zip in one side where everyone entered or exited together. It was critical not to let any dust in, or any paint particles out. Going into the space required me to take safety precautions too. It took lots of careful preparation to protect myself and my equipment from the paint and the fumes. I was going to be in the tent with Jose and Jerry, two skilled boat painters while my assistant worked the lights outside the tent.

With full protective gear on it was difficult to communicate so we invented hand signals for adjusting lights, I controlled them from my camera.

It was the hottest, most humid day in Florida, covered in plastic from head to toe under a plastic tent – certainly not ideal but a rare opportunity and a challenge which enabled me to complete my project with a collection of images showing the skills of the local people.

Link to more cooperate and business imagery here.

Author: Gary John Norman

An experienced image professional Gary has worked worldwide creating authentic people & lifestyle imagery that captures authentic moments and emotions. Creating imagery with both photography and video the creative process involves image concept, beautiful lighting and people direction. Educated to Masters Degree in Digital Arts and a qualified educator he has taught worldwide and received awards from PDN and a Gold Addy, his work has been exhibited in London, Dubai, Miami & New York.