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Powerful Portraits of Workers at Femme Auto in Senegal
February 17, 2013 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Photographer Anthony Kurtz visited Femme Auto in Senegal and took portraits of the mechanics and auto body workers there. They're really gorgeous shots, and it's always great to see badass women doing it to it in a male dominated field. (Via)
posted by infini (17 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
It seems like Jezebel want these photographs to be something they're not. They've already realised that the photographs weren't all taken in the same shop, but it also sounds like the shop employs men (or is at least not not employing men). Is it significantly more common for women to work as mechanics in Senegal than it is in the US (or Germany, where it looks like the photographer's also based)? Or is it significantly less common? I don't know, I'm frustrated by the lack of context, I guess, which is on Jezebel (who don't seem to know anything more about Senegal than I do) rather than the photographer.
posted by hoyland at 6:08 AM on February 17, 2013


The photos use whatever popular technique that makes all humans look like plastic mannequins that don't have any relational space to the background, like those portraits of crying babies that went around the internet a few years ago. I like the idea of photographs of kick-ass women in an auto shop, but in execution, the photos aren't gorgeous at all to me.
posted by xingcat at 6:31 AM on February 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Beautiful set of images. Thanks for the post.
posted by photoslob at 6:48 AM on February 17, 2013


makes all humans look like plastic mannequins

You're talking about this high-sheen beauty dish lighting effect they're putting on the workers. It's probably messing with your dimensionality because the light comes from a different direction than the sun, filling in what would otherwise be a darkened side of their face.

I'll have to disagree and say these are gorgeous to me. It's a style I often see used with Olympians and CEOs. To celebrate people where they work, in what's otherwise a thankless job, I think that's fantastic.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:51 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


You're talking about this high-sheen beauty dish lighting effect they're putting on the workers. It's probably messing with your dimensionality because the light comes from a different direction than the sun, filling in what would otherwise be a darkened side of their face.

Is that what does it? You're right that I've seen it for Olympians and CEOs, and I find it just as disconcerting with those portraits. It's a style preference to be sure, and I appreciate the talent that went into it, but I find it just so aesthetically flat.
posted by xingcat at 7:48 AM on February 17, 2013


Most standard cameras are not built for the high contrast of photography in Sub Sahara. Its the lack of pollution in the air for the most part that gives light a much sharper quality and totally throws contrasts off balance.
posted by infini at 8:01 AM on February 17, 2013


I just checked out his India set, I retract my generous assessment above. I now agree with xingcat and add that it makes people look weird.
posted by infini at 8:06 AM on February 17, 2013


His work is over processed for my taste. I find it distracts me from the content of the images.
posted by snofoam at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that these are just over processed which becomes a distraction. I would love to see a side by side comparison of a frame straight from the camera and a frame after it has been processed. Night and day I am sure.
posted by WickedPissah at 9:51 AM on February 17, 2013


Photography considerations aside, I just love the fact that there are all these women working in a car shop. But then I'm someone who capers with delight whenever I see a woman driving a tow truck or street sweeping machine.
posted by scratch at 10:18 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I just checked out his India set, I retract my generous assessment above."

Yeah. Man, this images would be so much improved by a gentler hand on the Photoshop/Lightroom sliders.
posted by sutt at 10:19 AM on February 17, 2013


Fascinating and I'd like to know more about the women in Senegal. My experience is that women are usually blocked from traditional higher earning "male" jobs as much as possible, world wide. I wonder how all these women ended up in this trade?
posted by fshgrl at 10:41 AM on February 17, 2013


So their own photos look like this. (photo swaps every few seconds).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:42 AM on February 17, 2013


The constant picking apart of process technique here gets tiring. In every music post from now on I’m going to complain long and loud about the mastering.
posted by bongo_x at 10:48 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


fshgirl, the garage's site answers that question for the owner, at least.

Loose translation: "Femme Auto" was born from the desire of a woman of proven ambition and courage. In 2006, Ms. Ndeye Coumba MBOUP decided to leave her post at a dealer's place to create her own business. She is a graduate of the Vocational and Technical Training Center (CFPT / Senegal Japan). She is also the head of a team of experienced technicians, both women and men. Our business is built on impeccable organization using modern tools and techniques.

More about the Vocational and Technical Training Center (CFPT) here.
posted by maudlin at 11:42 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm just annoyed that she's holding the torch in an unnatural and unusable manner. If your goal is to take photographs that celebrate people who know how to do their jobs, don't pose them in ways that make them look like they don't.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:12 PM on February 17, 2013


I think people pick apart processing technique because we feel (perhaps even subconsciously) that photographs are supposed to tell us something true, particularly when they are billed as being "environmental portraiture." The manipulation in these photos leaches some of honesty out of them.

Music is a whole different thing.
posted by jeoc at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2013


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