Construction IX

Christine Aguila caguila at
Thu Jul 15 13:00:25 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stan Halpin" <stan at>
To: "Pentax-Discuss Mail List" <pdml at>
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: Construction IX

> Christine - I have been traveling and only quickly dipping into PDML this 
> last week. I did notice that one of the newer members gave you thanks for 
> your opinion on something, with words to the effect of "it is nice to have 
> the opinion of a professional photographer . . ." And now if you blush and 
> try to deny it, all we need to do is refer you to this body of work. Very 
> nice! You took advantage of opportunities for repeating 
> frames-within-frames in several shots without letting the artsy stuff 
> interfere with clean documentary shots like the client wanted . . . I 
> think the whole project has been very impressive.

Well, I am blushing at your very kind words, Stan, but big thanks just the 
same.  Much appreciated.  This project has really helped me hone my skills.

1) I've had to learn how deal with a team of people while working on a 
project of this nature, and I learned that with time folks can and do grow 
to trust a photographer, and they can even be happy to see one.  :-)  It's 
important to make them feel they are very much a part of the story--the 
history--as opposed to a prop in the picture.

2) I've learned about movement of the body, and capturing the body moving 
and working, which has helped learn to anticipate movement. I know my escort 
thought me odd at times, but sometimes I would just watch folks and not take 
any pictures. I still missed *A LOT* of good action shots, but I would have 
missed a lot more if I hadn't taken the time to begin to learn this point. 
I still have a lot more to learn.

3) I learned this adage is true:  There are great photo stories in your own 

4) I learned that your *seeing* can grow stale especially on a project where 
there is repetition of the same kinds of movement and action.

5) I learned that when one is shooting in a potentially dangerous situation 
like a construction site, the photographer at all times has to convey 
credibility and good sense.  The photographer is always working to earn 
everyone's trust--they don't want yahoos around.  I don't think I was ever 
perceived as a yahoo, but eyebrows raised when I presented myself with a 
desire to do a photo essay.  I'm a short out-of-shape woman, but after my 
1st time shooting, I immediately printed up about 5 of the best shots, 
walked them over to the management office the next day and gave them to the 
project manager as a gift.  He liked the pictures and began to see the 
potential story, and he relaxed about letting me on the site, and I never 
gave him any reason to be concerned about my behavior.

6) Lastly, and most importantly, as a photographer, you have to make sure 
you help keep the people you are photographing safe as well.  As time 
progressed, the workers felt comfortable with me and the idea of a photo 
story.  They loved seeing the photos on the web, and sometimes, I'd hear 
about it if I hadn't taken someone's photo.  As soon as I would walk on the 
site (especially in the early days), the workers would wave hello, talk to 
me etc.  And I started getting requests for specific shots, and some of the 
workers had a bit of the macho dare-devil spirit.  I could see that if not 
careful, safety could be at risk, so I never encouraged this.

> Veering off on a wine-inspired philosophical tangent, I must say that my 
> mind boggles a bit with the diversity of work being done by members of 
> this group. There you are in your construction boots and hardhat tromping 
> around a construction site while Tanya is chasing rugrats around darkened 
> rooms with no flash. We are offered quality examples of nudes, snowflakes, 
> flowers, industrial sites, bear, deer, even cats! Subways and streetcars 
> and urban streets and Oxford punters and Himalayan mountain passes. Dance 
> moves and exhaust manifolds. Barns and baseball and doors and diners. And 
> dogs. And even the occasional wedding and horse show.

Indeed.  I don't think I would have made the progress in improving my skills 
as fast as I did without PDML, and it's not just because of  feedback on MY 
photos.  It's the communal learning experience of learning from other 
people's work.  That's helped in equal measure to be sure, and the diversity 
and international aspect has been invaluable in honing my photographic 

Cheers, Christine 

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