Construction Worker Portraits

The Construction Worker Portrait

Femael construction worker April Marquez

I do most of my business with owners, public agencies and private builders for construction progress photography, time-lapse films, group portraits and video interviews.  The individual or small group construction worker portraits like the one above are not in my contracts. I do them voluntarily. Here’s the link to my gallery of just construction worker portraits.

The Why

1)  Construction workers belong to a unique tribe, one that’s fascinating to interpret through photography. Construction workers make me feel at home, they’re friendly, interested in what I do, have a sense of humor and mostly eager to pose. Also, they build things and I build photographs. We are simpatico.

2)  The session are high energy and very in the moment.

3)  Short duration, a photographic sprint if you will. Sessions last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

4)  Participation levels are high and both sides of the camera, we have fun with the process.

5)  The challenge of uncontrolled lighting and color forces me to go on instinct and experience. That’s a high for me.

6)  I get to interpret and honor these intriguing and generally happy personalities. What they do is hard, dirty and dangerous. What better way to honor them?

7)  On subsequent site visits, when I’m recognized for the work, I get my fist bumps. Awesome!

8)  Seeing how I can develop the images afterwards is an exciting process for me:

Female and male construction workers and their carpentry tools

Because of the pace and stresses of a construction site and the lurking dangers virtually everywhere, I minimize the time it takes to do these portraits. As such, I don’t use any supplemental lighting, I use what’s there. My skill is in positioning the subjects into the correct relationship with the sunlight or whatever artificial light been put up on site. But that’s the beauty of knowing what you’re doing. With todays’ technologies, a professional photographer can shoot at will with the understanding that during the edit phase, colors, contrasts and nuance can be managed to great effect. It’s the only way to produce this technical quality level.

But don’t want to get too hung up on the technical. While of course it’s important, the real skill comes in knowing how to elicit responses from folks who are generally not photographed on the job in this formal way. Construction workers take a lot of selfies but here I am doing a higher level of end result because of my eye, technical skills and true desire to honor these fellow tribe members with their own personalized construction worker portrait.

Sometimes these images end up in company newlsetters that showcase these individuals and they appreciate seeing themselves looking so good!

The Group Portrait

The group portrait is always fun because it takes a bit of performance art on my part. But I don’t mind. You have to get everyone to buy into the idea. This isn’t an issue because they’re being honored. But about 5% are on the shy side that they want to stay in the way back. That’s fine, you cant’ get everyone. And besides, the 10% in each group that are fully cooked hams provide the offset. LOL!

Group portrait GIF

A construction worker group portrait

Construction worker group portrait


Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.
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