(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)
It has been years since I have been in a black and white darkroom, using chemistry to develop film and prints. I miss the intensity and joy of that process and the work that is needed to take lasting black and white photo portraits.
This week I was digging through my boxes of old prints and found a couple that I gave to a friend, who is featured in one of these two group shots. One is of his extended family who I have known for decades now. The second is of my friend in Vietnam, with his public health colleagues in Hanoi.
The warmth I find in a black and white group portrait, taken on film, can’t be replaced by digital. Digital may provide a level of sharpness and clarity, and simplicity. It still lacks the feeling I always experienced seeing my prints slowly emerge in the developer bath under the safe light of a darkroom, reeking of chemicals.. More than 15 years after I took these shots, I still feel that emotion.
I met this laborer during my trip to Vietnam in 2003. The Vietnamese are among the most industrious people I have met anywhere.
I have been fortunate to see how many people work around the world. I have seen flower pickers running at breakneck speed in the pre-dawn hours to their jobs in greenhouses around Kenya’s Lake Naivasha. I have met Mexican migrant farm workers in central Washington state, who pick all of the apples, cherries, and other fruits and vegetables we eat around the country. I have met the men who do the hard labor building roads and buildings in Vietnam. And there are so many more. The work I have seen humbles me in its physical intensity and also brute reality. But people have to work, to make better lives for themselves and their families. So, today, on Labor Day, a moment to honor those who have to use their bodies to eek out a living, where ever they call home.
Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.
I visited Hoi An, Vietnam, in 2003. That was a fabulous trip, and moments like these stand out as among my best (2003).
I included this photo of two men I met for morning tea in Hoi An, Vietnam, in my series called Being Themselves. Nothing earth-shattering here other than a nice moment with some guys who welcomed a visitor to their town and wore very large smiles. My kinda people. See more of my photos from Vietnam on my web site.