This photograph was part of my "Streets of Jakarta" photo story. I explained this in last week's post, but essentially I decided to take a camera to and from work with me to see what images I could capture from the car.
I was not driving. All shots were taken from the back seat of a car and NOT from the driver's position. That would be irresponsible.
Simple concept, this is a project where I take a series of detailed shots to help capture a feeling and series of emotions. These images are not about telling a story to someone else, but a way for me to trigger memories in the future.
I uncovered this idea when I was looking back at some of my older images where I was testing new cameras. I would have them delivered to my office, load a roll of film and shoot it quickly on the way home. Then I would develop to see if the camera was working well. The curious result however, was that I captured some scenes from my daily commute that now bring back a flood of memories. Nothing worth writing home about, but something that helps me remember my own story.
This picture was captured using a Nikon F3, set to Aperture Priority mode, with a 50mm f/1.8 lens on HP5+ film exposed at EI3200. This allowed me to capture fast shutter speed to make up for the movement of the vehicle.
I pass these men everyday on my way to the office. Effectively the construction of this building is ongoing and the workers are living there. So their rooms are open to the entire world, giving me the chance to glimpse into their lives. Where they wash their clothes, to how they sleep. There is a strong communal atmosphere but also an appreciation of alone time.
Some mornings I see the chatting and smoking together while at other times I see them sitting alone, staring at a wall. I have no idea what they do or how they determined that living in this way was the best option for them. All I know is that they have given up privacy and are living in a rather squalid environment and it reminds me of how lucky I am.
This picture is take from a purposefully wider vantage point, I did not was a voyeur look to these images. I framed the shot at an angle because I wanted it to appear natural. I could, and indeed did, take the image from the front but it appears too artificial. Shooting at EI3200, coupled with a semi-stand development process helps give me the contrast I was looking for.
I was able to capture the three men sitting together smoking as well as another three sitting alone. The cables, wooden scaffolding and street sign all give it a sense of place. While the rudimentary living conditions are clear the image is not intimate. We are still seeing the image from relative safety, we are not close up with them. We are removed.
The offset angle of the shot adds tension to the image. This is a quick glance, not a contemplative stare. It is fast moving, and the viewer is just glancing in. It is an alien lifestyle to us, and we are grateful for that. But these men, they still make up the fabric of the family of man. They still value friendship, and solitude, they still dream of a better future and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.