When you visit New York for the first time, it’s impossible not to marvel at the tall buildings everywhere you look. Friends who live there say you can always spot someone from out of town as they’ll constantly be looking skyward.
For local photographer Leland Bobbé, he loves to spot the little details we might miss as a tourist. Whether it’s the women of Fifth Avenue or the Big Apple when it was wild and dangerous in the 1970s.
In his latest series, Hardhats NYC, he takes a closer look at the people who are responsible for New York’s fine buildings – the very characters who have made it all possible… construction workers.
“As a lifetime New Yorker, I increasingly found myself noticing the men and women on the streets working construction. To me, they really stood out, dressing differently than the throngs of pedestrians around them, usually wearing brightly coloured orange and chartreuse, and of course, hardhats,” Leland told Creative Boom.
“Over the course of a year, I went out during their lunch break to different construction sites and approached construction workers on the street offering them $10 cash and an emailed photo to stand for a portrait. The majority said yes but some turned me down.”
What’s interesting about the portraits is that some decorate their hardhats with stickers, others add decoations, dependent on the season. Some offer a broad smile, others present themselves more professionally. What’s universally clear is what you can see in each person’s eyes – a sense of pride and job satisfaction to be employed and contributing to something that will most definitely leave a legacy.
These images were all shot with a 35mm lens very close to the subject and lit with an off-camera fill flash fitted with a compact beauty dish to add punch and separate them from the background. Post work was done using Photoshop and Topaz Adjust software. Discover more: lelandbobbe.com.