By Jonathan Castner | Dec 15, 2019
As usual, CompanyWeek sent me to document a huge swath of the manufacturing world here in the Rockies this year. From little, hands-on shops building one-of-a-kind guitars to huge, high-tech companies, the breadth of what is being made here is astounding. I'm always excited to head to my next assignment, wondering what fascinating things I will see and learn. Often, there are beautiful and unexpected moments to reveal with my lens. Here are some of my favorites from 2019.
The human element of the maker space is very important to me. When I was at Seedstock, this lovely moment happened where one of the brewers stopped to enjoy the fruits of his labor. It just happened in lovely light and I could focus on that glowing goblet of tastiness.
I am an unabashed lover of spark photos, but this one is just so dynamic it was my fave of the year. The streaks of hot metal just seem to be surrounding the viewer like something from a sci-fi movie.
Showing the interaction between people and heavy machinery can be hard. The way that the repeating pattern in a "V" shape leads the eye to the face of the woman who is working has a certain dynamic quality that I really dig.
Computers are the bane of photography in the sense that when people are using them, they tend to be expressionless and detached -- not the sort of thing that easily makes for an interesting image. However, there is not only nice light on Emily in this shot, but the gesture of her hand and a focus on Danny in the background.
Doing portraits of business leaders can be tricky. They are not used to being photographed and often shy around the camera, and -- given the limited amount of time that I have with them -- it’s hard to build a rapport. When I got to photograph Damaris Ronkanen making her amazing craft chocolate, she was easy to like. Quirky, bubbly, and passionate, she was a delight. All I had to do was set up a few lights and her great energy just came pouring out.
One of the few custom bootmakers in the country, Mickey Musett is a true artist. The amount of care that he puts into his boots is obsessive. The happy energy of him with some of his creations in his workshop is exemplary of who Mickey is.
Classic cars, whiskey, and good friends. What more can you ask for? The aging room at Rocker was just layered with gorgeous barrels bathed in soft light. All the frame needed was a human element to break up the repeating pattern of the barrels and his leaning forward posture added the diagonal element to further add interest. Love it.
Hands are the principal tools of our brain. When I’m taking photos of people, I watch their eyes and their hands, the sources of thought and action. This woman was unloading circuit boards and the light on her was awful, but it did illuminate the boards. Putting my camera underneath the machine and focusing on her hands wrapped around the board showed that interaction in a lovely and different way.
This was a mater of luck and patience. Luck because there was this amazing light that came from a window across the way which illuminated this employee's face in a way that I normally would have to use studio lights to achieve, but it was just there naturally. The shot required some patience, because I had to get the timing right with both the position and expression of her face.
Moments! You gotta be ready for them. Head brewer Jeff Tyler quickly popped a bit of grain for a morning snack and I happened to capture it.
This is one of the most complex frames that I’ve shot for CompanyWeek in a long time. What I was really trying to get was the guy peeking his face through one of the squares while the hand reached into another square to bring a foreground human element into play. I was just sitting there trying to get the timing right when all of a sudden this other dude pops into the right part of the frame. Bingo!
This is one of my stranger images of recent memory. Framing the subject between the black barrels and his freaky facemask, half Hannibal Lecter and half Darth Vader, is a bit creepy.
I occasionally find a bit of interesting light to go with interesting cooperative subjects. It all came together here. Clay Carlton is a master cigar roller in Denver and his place looks like it was lifted straight out of Havana, Cuba. All I had to do was put this fine gentleman in a seat and let the moment happen.
Jonathan Castner is CompanyWeek's chief photographer.