This image of Wez the construction worker, taken in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, is part of a documentary piece that I shot in January on the Superpit, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest opencast gold mining operation. It is being published in American publication ‘JPG’ in May 2007.
This shot was taken after a hard day’s work for both Wez and myself; he had been working for 12 hours straight, while I had just spent 4 hours shooting in the mine in 45 degree heat.
Kalgoorlie, 6 hours inland from Perth in the Australian outback, is in the grip of a boom in mining and its associated industries and contractors like Wez fly in from Perth to work in 3 week stints, staying in motels and working long hours. Although the work is tough, the money is lucrative. Visitors to Kalgoorlie will almost definitely meet the traditional ‘Aussie Bloke’ – hard working, hard drinking, straight talking, no bullshit – and generous to a rule.
His offer of pre-mixed whisky and coke on the patio of his motel room was impossible to resist. I shot 3 rolls of film while we talked about the differences and similarities of our respective careers, and how he was going to beat me at pool that evening…
Why do I like this image? I think it conveys a mix of emotions – a certain amount of respect and trust in what I was doing, but also a slight suspicion that he couldn’t help but hide. I hope that I have managed to uphold his dignity inspite of his rough appearance.
I would hesitate to call it my ‘all time favourite image’. I like a number of my images for different reasons. I guess that this is something that I have shot fairly recently so the context and experiences that I had in this time still resonate for me.
Ben Roberts has been a freelance photographer for just 10 months, having graduated from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth last summer.
He covers his bills by shooting a mix of commercial and corporate work, and ploughs what is left over into shooting his own projects – mainly with a documentary and fine art emphasis.
His clients include The Fader magazine in New York, The Royal Town Planning institute in London, and the aforementioned JPG magazine from San Francisco and he recently had the opportunity to exhibit at the Jen Bekman gallery in NYC in a group show for emerging fine art photographers.
Ben is also a member of the young photographers collective Photodebut.org, and first assistant to World Press Award winning photojournalist Zed Nelson.
He shoots with a Mamiya 7, RZ67, Hasselblad Xpan and Canon digital system.
Photographer since 2006, EPUK member since 2007.
See more work by Ben Roberts