Friday Faves: My personal picks of (mostly) unpublished images from the archive…
In December 2007 I covered the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and recovery efforts of UCC and Disciples of Christ disaster ministries in New Orleans with an eye to the contributions and conditions of migrant workers in the city.
Driving home from New Orleans I arranged to spend an afternoon at a cement manufacturing facility near Montgomery, Ala. The company employed many Hispanic workers in all levels of the operation, had an excellent record of hiring documented laborers, received excellent marks for site safety, and worked with local Hispanic groups to develop better relations in this deep-south community.
Although the story surrounding this cement plant never made it to print, I’ve kept the photos and interview files as possible fodder for a future article. It is a “pretty good news” story – one that recognizes a level of mutual need in this employment situation.
Yes, the manual work at the plant is hard, dirty, hazardous, and somewhat tedious. But rather than focusing on the difficulty of the work or the plight of migrant workers that is often very real, I was more drawn to the story of how the workers, their families, and the employer had forged a relationship that created a pride of place for the migrant families while meeting the labor needs of the employer.
Journalists who cover humanitarian issues are often bombarded and overwhelmed with the “human cost” of the things on which we report. Once in a while it is nice to see something that works – something hopeful – in the sea of otherwise dire news.
This photo captures a lot of what I’d hope a story from this setting would convey. This man is somewhat lost in the image as part of the machine – a laborer as an essential part of the production line. Yet, even in the muted monotone of the sand-covered machinery, he subtly stands out as a human form – distinct from the machine that relies on his actions for continued operation.
Camera: Nikon D200 with 17-55mm lens.