Posts Tagged ‘construction’

These men work

Monday, November 16th, 2009

As I’ve suggested previously, I do appreciate an amazing view but I hate taking pictures of one. As a result almost all of my time around the lookout atop Tiger Hill was spent watching and photographing a group of men who were working to build the foundation for a new structure. Actually I ended up watching them for the better part of an hour and a half – far past the point when Catie, Denise, and Polly gave up on me and started back down the hills to a distant village. (Though I must make a special note of appreciation and credit to my ever-patient and supportive Cat that I had to do a great deal of “no really, it’s fine! you can go, I’ll be ok, I’ll catch up!” convincing before she would leave me behind.)

The men seemed to enjoy my hanging around with my camera for so long. I still don’t think they were having fun exactly as it was hard work with little chance for relief from the brutal sun overhead, but they had a good few laughs from my being there. The age of the workers ranged all the way from young adolescents to one man with a long white beard who was well on in years but still quite tough and strong.

The one odd member of the group was the labor supervisor. He was a very young attractive man, and despite the fact that most of the work consisted of the rather messy task of mixing and spreading concrete, he was wearing crisp light tan slacks and a spotless white button-down shirt. He could wear these clothes because his job consisted of nothing but watching and assuring that the men continued to work properly and efficiently. I guess there’s nothing inherently wrong with this system, but it just struck me how obviously (and visually) that slick young man was trying to distance himself from the common laborer.

At one point while I was photographing, I wanted to get an extreme low angle so I pretty much laid full down on the ground which was dusted with some dirt and stray cement. I do things like this quite often to get a shot, so I didn’t think anything of it. When I started to get up though and brush myself off, the supervisor – who I imagine had been watching me with some disdain – addressed me and said something about “dirty” while shaking his head and pointing to my pants. I looked down at the brown and white dusty patches on the navy fabric without feeling too much shame, and then looked back at him and shrugged and said “it’s worth it!”. Either he didn’t understand or simply didn’t approve.

I’ve concluded that I’m just not cut out to be any sort of upper-level supervisor in this lifetime. I’ll keep creating in my sometimes dirty Bengali drawstring pajama pants, thank you very much.

Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)
Bandarban, Bangladesh (Oct 31, 2009)

Photos taken in Bandarban, Bangladesh on October 31, 2009.

Street stories

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Catie and I have been slowly expanding our experience of Chittagong, taking walks and small trips around different parts of the city. I continue to be amazed as I carry my camera with me on the streets at the sheer number of opportunities there are to create beautiful images. I feel like no matter where I turn there is always something or someone asking for a photograph (sometimes literally) and with potential to be magnificent.

There were two recent moments from our city meanderings that I wanted to write about in particular. Both occurred in New Market, an area which I don’t know much about besides that it includes a huge mall (which I still haven’t been into) and a vast number of street vendors and shops. Recently Catie and I went there on a late afternoon and (since the mall was closed) walked around the streets and looked at the variety of items for sale including posters, jewelry, clothes, shoes, CDs, toothbrushes, and just about anything else you could think of.

Both notable moments happened though before we even started walking the streets. As we were getting our bearings on the sidewalk after we got out of our CNG, I saw a man sitting on the ground begging for money in some gorgeous afternoon light. I wanted to get a photo of him but I didn’t want it to be a one-sided exchange, so I got out a few coins and walked over to give them to him and then take my shot. I started to do so and realized during the process that he was probably completely blind. After I handed him the money, I backed off and started to get ready to take the photo, but suddenly I realized that I had already attracted a lot of attention on the sidewalk that had just a moment ago been completely empty. Unfortunately my camera’s line of sight was perpendicular to and stretching all the way across the sidewalk, so anyone who might’ve walked by immediately stopped and added on to the crowd around us. I quickly took the best photo I could before the mob blocked all the light and obstructed my frame.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on October 23, 2009.

At this point there were probably 20 people (all men I think) standing right next to me, but I decided to try and get one more closer angle. As I changed positions and framed and took my next shot, one of the men stepped towards my subject and pushed him a bit, trying to “do me a favor” and get the old blind man to look towards me. I found this to be very upsetting, and I stopped shooting immediately and got up and walked away. I wish I could have said something in apology to the man before leaving. Maybe he’ll be there again the next time I go to New Market and I can give him some more money or food. I just hate that I went into the situation consciously attempting to have a good even exchange between the two of us, but ended up getting him harassed by some jerk guy.

My other New Market story is from just a few minutes later but has a more comic theme. I was fiddling with a few controls on my camera while Catie was on her cell phone, trying to pretend like I wasn’t feeling suffocated by the large group of men surrounding me, when one man stepped forward and gestured towards a boy standing nearby (who I assume might have been his son). He motioned for me to take a picture of the boy, so I obliged, stepped over, framed the photograph and pressed the shutter. The man wanted to see the shot so I pulled it up on the LCD display and showed him the back of the camera.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on October 23, 2009.

The man looked for a moment with a critical eye, and then frowned and shook his head. He pointed to the empty space on the right of the frame and said “noo, no good” and unmistakably gestured his distaste. I couldn’t help but laugh and asked “no?” to which I got another definitive “no!” followed by a motion that I interpreted as his telling me that I should have captured the boy’s entire body. And then he simply walked away! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a “client” express such strong dissatisfaction for my work. I guess you just can’t win ‘em all! I like the photo still anyway. But then again maybe there is too much empty space on the right… Or perhaps I overdid the dutch angle. This man has me questioning myself!

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 9, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 11, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 26, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 26, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 26, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 26, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 26, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh between October 9-26, 2009.