At Work

Kip Harris

1991 - Ongoing

When people are in their own workplaces, they are most at ease with themselves. They do not need “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” I try to stand and watch a little before photographing to convey my appreciation for the worker’s skill and engagement. A man’s work is his life and should be respected. It also gives me a chance to have eye contact and that makes all the difference. Where it is not possible to ask permission to shoot, I try to capture what the workers might wish to say about himself.

There is a Taoist phrase: “wei wu wei,” which has been translated a number of ways but the one I like best is “doing, not doing.” When one has become a complete master of an action, he no longer has to think about how to perform the act but has become the act himself. I look for this mastery and hope to record it.

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  • Meat Preparer, Cusco

  • Smoke Break, New York City

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  • Bicycle Repairman, Essaouira

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