Day 9 of the Hwy 80 project

“it’s serious shit up there” Matt, Texas Journeyman Lineman

Historic Hwy 80 pretty much dissolves after DFW. I-20, I-10 and I-8 pretty much took over as the main routes to San Diego.
I had enough of following 180 through 1/2 of west Texas though. Where were all of the people?!
I decided to drop south into Odessa where I found all of those oil rigs I talked about a couple days ago.
While driving the field roads I came upon a crew working on the power lines. I pulled up, told them what I was up to, and they were all ok with me making their portraits. Matt, a Journeyman Lineman, had just come down from the pole and stepped over to my background. “Lets do this”, he said. I commented on his gear as being pretty serious. “it’s serious shit up there” he said pointing to the lines. “One tiny brush of that line and I explode. “This rubber protects me.” I heard someone in the background joke under their breath, “Thats not the only time rubber protects you”. I love how this serious man doing a serious job has “shit happens” on his hard hat. The irony.

Later that day I found Jose and some Pipeline Welders practicing pipe joining in a camp. There are so many oil workers in the area and nowhere for them to stay. Any piece of open land is taken over with RV’s and small makeshift trailers for the workers to stay in. After telling them what I was doing, one said , “I dont know if I want my picture taken”. I replied “No, I want to make portraits of you.” He replied, “Well, I guess that would be ok”. Ha. Weird how just a little change in vocabulary changes everything. I showed them on the back of the camera and they were all stoked with their portrait!

Many have asked about the set up for these portraits. Here it is.
I park my van, that is 11’ tall, perpendicular to the sun so that it produces a shade. A 56” roll of white seamless paper is laid across the top of my feet to keep it out of the dirt. I unroll it upward as far as I can reach and place 2 industrial magnets on the corners. I pull my feet out and Viola. In under 1 minute my studio is ready.

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