We spend much of our lives working—more than a third, in fact. Though this isn’t the only thing that defines us, it’s normal for our identities to be closely tied to the professions we pursue and the tasks we perform on a near-daily basis. Photographer Sanwal Deen explores this relationship through his revealing photography series titled Work. In it, we get a bird’s eye view of individuals as they complete different tasks related to their careers. Often, they may seem like mundane, menial work—like that of an automobile mechanic tightening a bolt—but Deen’s hand photography series sheds light on the professional significance of these overlooked tasks.
Deen uses his photography as a vehicle for celebrating individuality and acknowledging the things we share that make us human.“I have always had a fascination with desks and workspaces,” he tell us in an email. “I thought that looking at different work spaces throughout the world might be a good way to get my message across.” He goes on to make a point about the universality of mankind by explaining, “A butcher in Columbus, Ohio may use a very different set of tools, and operate in a very different environment than a butcher in China, but in the end, both are doing the same act and are most likely using their hands that in that act.” Through these similarities, Deen is making the point that we’re not as different as we often think.
Capturing this unique form of hand photography was a technical feat. The elaborate set ups were often done during active business hours, and sometimes, Deen admits, he got in the way. “Finding a way to quickly set up, take the picture, and leave without causing too much trouble was the hardest part of this process!”
Deen is just beginning Work and has big goals for it moving forward. Currently, his photographs are all shot in the United States, but he’s planning on going to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to create a diverse array of images. Afterwards, the photographs, along with interviews, will be compiled into a book.
Photographer Sanwal Deen’s fascinating hand photography offers an insightful bird’s eye view of people at work.
By showing their work spaces, he celebrates this shared human experience across a diverse range of professions.
Sanwal Deen: Website
My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Sanwal Deen.
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