CNN Photos

Seeing construction in a new light

Brian Finke is known for his vivid photography of select groups of individuals as he captures the worlds of flight attendants, cheerleaders, football players and bodybuilders.

In 2008, just before the building boom ended in New York, Finke’s focus turned toward the men and women in construction.

“The construction workers were a little different. Although they were all working together toward a common goal, they were much more independent than the other members of the groups I've photographed,” he said. The project developed into an extension of his previous group idea.

With iconic images by early 20th-century photographers Lewis Hine and Charles C. Ebbets in mind, Finke gained access to working sites in Manhattan but with a new angle.

“I wanted to take my photographs in a different direction, away from the awe of construction, documenting more the reality of being there,” he said.

The hardest part of the project was gaining access, Finke said. Liability issues and site managers lacking interest in Finke’s vision created hurdles for the photographer. Eventually his luck changed.

“After many failed attempts, I began to connect with the architects, the creatives that understood my project; they were able to arrange for the access,” he said.

Finally with a foot in the door, Finke, in his customary style, made beautifully lit, rich and colorful photographs of what he saw.

Finke’s photos in “Construction” are a visual study of a select group, but he also takes a step back to provide a vivid sense of the construction site atmosphere. These “quiet” images are especially compelling when viewed in the context of the real estate market collapse, which began to unfold soon after Finke began the project.

“Construction” will be exhibited as a solo show at ClampArt in New York on September 6 through October 13. Finke also is producing a book of the work that DECODE Books will publish in September.

“Having a project published as a book is the most rewarding way of presenting the work,” Finke said, “to be able to tell a story in such depth and to be able to commit the time, to obsess about an idea over many years. It's the way I love to photograph.”

- Raymond McCrea Jones, CNN