May 01, 2010

Snap Inspection (By Request)

This shot is more fun to see with a little hindsight. At the moment of making it, I was concerned to have decent hand positions and a shutter speed that would speak to the task at hand (which was removing defects from the passing green coffee). It became obvious shortly thereafter that the clinical face-mask hair-net stuff was just for me, the visiting photographer.

Sometimes I forget that I represent something more than just a curious artist. In this case, I was something akin to an inspector. The Honduran co-op leaders knew that my visit was official enough that they needed to play by the book and that book apparently requires these women to cover their hair and faces, which is idiotic considering their role in the process is to remove defects and foreign objects. Whatever.

All I know is that after a few shots of their efforts, I was frustrated with not being able to see their faces and asked my watchful male guides if they could remove their masks so I could see some smiles. They obliged and the women whipped those masks off faster than you know. It was then that I realized the ruse. They were as uncomfortable wearing that stuff as I was trying to make decent human pictures.

What else was being faked for me? I did a quick review and came up with nothing but it was instructive. I'd be on guard for the future and remind leaders that I don't care about silly rules or small lapses in protocol. I care about people.

And if anyone is concerned about germs here, they need to relax. This is green coffee being touched by bare hands (there's no requirement for gloves) many weeks before it makes it to any roaster where it'll be "cooked" for at least 12 minutes, repacked, shipped, etc. You should be more concerned about the herbicides, pesticides and general poor soil quality of non-organic coffee long before any hygienic performance art.

Make pictures.

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