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Men At Work

I had been shooting this series off and on for a year or so when to my delight (and horror) I stumbled upon a photography book called Small Trades by one my photography heroes. During 1950 and 1951, Irving Penn photographed 252 people in London, Paris and New York dressed in their work clothes: during this period, he made portraits of chimney sweeps, belly dancers, firemen, riveters, seamstresses, window washers, chefs, welders, artists…you name the trade, they are there. It is a fantastic body of work.

I was delighted the great Irving Penn had validated the concept, and horrified because I had misguidedly thought my concept was so original. Irving Penn had already ‘written the book’ of portraits of tradespeople!