are difficult, and ...
it dawned on me that for far more years then I have lived on
this planet, most folks have toiled long hours, working at
mundane jobs. We have spent our working years exerting
ourselves as farmers, tailors, clerks, lab assistants, and
short-order cooks. (And along the same lines, even, the
majority of folks who have been fortunate enough to follow
educational paths persuing higher degrees, do not become famous Directors,
Professors, Doctors, Writers, or Lawyers.)
the years as we've tread our individual paths, we've gone to
school and many of us have acquired advanced degrees and landed
professional jobs. Have we given much thought to those of
our numbers who were less fortunate? Have we spent much
time thinking about all of the support jobs that it takes to
make a society run? I don't think so! Am I cynical?
doubt it. Perhaps those who followed other paths lacked
the funds, the fortitude, or even the familial encouragement to
go on and learn and advance.
year, I began to contemplate this conundrum that exists in our
lives; I began to think about the types of jobs that we do to
earn a dollar or two ...
My first idea was to create a series of photographs portraying
everyday people working in everyday jobs. I intended
calling the series, Survival: 2012, and as I mentioned, I
realized that it's not just 2012, it's a lifestyle that has
typified our country since it's inception. I have one
Grandfather who was a Tailor and another Grandfather who worked
in a steel mill.
is an unfinished series. To date there are only a handful
of photographs and as time goes on, I have ideas for other
photographs, and as you view this series, some of you may have
have thoughts and ideas for others images that I have not
dreamed of. Where is this project going? I don't
know; I only hope it has a future.
The Car Wash
had it's birth at a car wash this past Spring. I had
acquired a certificate for a few bucks off of a full service car
wash not far from where I lived and, camera in hand, I settled
down to watch the progress of the car as it went through the car
The attendant who was working in
the pre-wash line seemed to be amused at my license plate, and I
in turn was fascinated as his mop swirled around, suds
flying. The car was moving; the car washer was moving, and
I wanted to capture the flying water drops and soapsuds.
Yes, '666-TRY' is actually my license plate. Assigned when
I first registered my car in the state of Nevada; it's not a
The second image taken in this series really made me
realize that the job we do doesn't matter. What does
matter is how we hold that job. What is our attitude
toward our work? Is it important? Absolutely.
this example, the man in question took exceptional pride in his
shot is of the Wiper--the person who applies the finishing
touches to the car and in this case, the gentleman who worked
hard to restore my 6-year-old car to its showroom glory.
Seems that if you carry a camera, folks are more than willing to
open up and talk about themselves, their jobs, the weather
... The gentleman who is the subject of this image had the
most engaing grin and spoke about the difficulty of maintaining
a car when the kids jump all over it. His car fits into
his garage but his car AND his wife's car, together, do
not! He left me to guess which car was garaged. He
shared, with great pride, that he was the top money-maker at the
car wash, and having watched him work, I believe him! I
recall adding extra money to the tip that I gave him.
Lurker in the
The life of
a business receptionist is a job exposed to the whims of the
public. She or he enures it all. Everything ranging
from people asking a myriad of questions to the unhappy
customer, irate and irrational because of a bill. And in
this scene, we even encounter the ogling stock boy.
this particular image may have a hidden meaning. For
example, the story might be this: "Admiration takes many forms.
Sometimes the admirer stands so quietly waiting for a smile, a
wink, some small gesture of notice. In this scene, the
receptionist does her best to do her job and ignore the
'lurker.' Who knows? In her heart, she may welcome the
attentions of the young man, or on the other hand, he may be
close to harassing her every move. and there's no way to know."
the joke was on me. Approximately a month later, I went
back to the Hair Salon in which this scene was captured and lo',
I discovered that my 'Lurker' was not real; he was a photograph
of a model, very carefully cut out from a life-sized poster
image for the salon, and I still had fun making up my version of
Back to a
car wash and yet another Wiper. The sex and the story
In this image, taken at a car wash in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA,
Kyra who is bright, ambitious, and a strong young woman is the
subject. She appears willing to do the most medial job in order
to earn a living. Kyra is a Wiper at a local car wash. She is
quick to smile and equally prone to frown as she focuses on her
assigned tasks. It was my pleasure to watch this young woman as
she scurried from one job to the next; she was easily the most
enthusiastic worker at the car washing facility. She literally
danced with glee when she received a tip from a customer.
Too bad I didn't capture that scene!
Patient as Job
When I was
19, I spent the summer working at a family and young adult camp
as the Arts and Crafts Instructor. Fun, lots of
prestige. All of the staff was invited to come back during
Labor Day weekend just to relax and have fun. When I
arrived, I saw the Camp Director who asked me to volunteer to
work over the weekend with the cheerful words that I would be
paid. So I was "volunteered" to work as a waitress.
In one fell swoop, I lost my "professional" position and quickly
learned that waiting on tables had far less status than teaching
campers how to make lanyards or carve leather. It was not for me
but I did learn to respect folks who made a living by serving
food and waiting on tables. I also remember I was strongly
motivated to return to college and finish my Bachelor's degree.
The Iron Skillet is a popular truck stop and restaurant in North
Las Vegas, Nevada, quite near the Speedway. This particular
afternoon, one waitress was serving all of the afternoon
stragglers who were deciding between breakfast, lunch, dinner,
or perhaps just a cup of coffee and a glass of ice-cold
This waitress, obviously world weary and probably on her feet
since the crack of dawn, definitely deserves high marks as a
member of the working class who is surviving our present
economy. And most likely she has spent a lifetime earning
her living in this fashion. My hat goes off to Mary.
You load sixteen
tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go ...
I owe my soul to the company store.
Long ago, I spent one
dusty afternoon driving around areas of construction in Las
Vegas. I finally spied a hot, dusty lot filled with giant
rocks, boulders, and heavy equipment. I was new to the
business of shooting people and felt very self-conscious;
however, be that as it may, I couldn't resist grabbing a candid
shot of this heavy equipment operator climbing into the cab of
his vehicle. He and his coworker were covered with dust
and sweat and I'm sure they were none to pleased to be the
target of an invasive photographer.
No matter where we
drive, it appears that the roads are under construction.
Stop and Wait. That's the name of the game.
Especially in the summer time when folks are traveling and the
days are long and hot.
I know that I would not want to work for the Department of
Transportation in any state in any location. I have a
thought that some driver just might take his road rage out on
This image of the UDOT
worker was taken one August when I was at the head of the long
line of traffic. Zion National Park has tunnels and
policies regarding large vehicles going through the
tunnels. Permits may be required and rangers at either end
of the tunnel may be stopping traffic so that over sized
vehicles can proceed safely. This particular summer, a
Department of Transportation worker was holding up BOTH traffic
and STOP sign in Zion National Park. All I could think as I
stole the shot was, "What would a holiday outing be without
We take for granted
those folks who work for Lawn Service companies. They
mow, trim, water, rake, and generally take excellent care of
lawns, leaving neatly trimmed greenery for us to admire.
Back in June before it got too darned hot, I did some meandering
around Mesquite to see if I could find some interesting
sights. I stopped at one of the local hotels to shoot the
Canadian Geese and instead found Juan. With a few passing
pedestrians and a handful of ducks and a couple of geese for an
audience, Juan trimmed the grass surrounding the water pond to
I'll Be Back
I'm taking liberties as I borrow the catchphrase used by Arnold
Will there be other photos in this series? I hope
so. I keep thinking of the man who works at a local gas
station and sweeps up the store each evening about 9:30 or
so. I'd love to capture him with his broom. I would
like to find some willing hair stylist so I could take a
close-up of the hands as he or she works trimming hair.
And a shoe maker. Oh, yes, someone using a mangle iron on
flat sheets surrounded clouds of steam. Maybe a farmer or
a person operating a cash register. Lots of ideas and
hopefully they will be turned into photographs for this ongoing
Carol Hyman (cahyman)