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Brick factory revisited.

On a commercial shoot in South Africa, staring out a window as we rode to our location, my eye caught a big pile of bricks. Huge brick half-pyramids stood behind a fence with a sign reading “brick sale.” We went on to our shoot, but in the down moments, my mind returned to that scene and I wanted to go back to the bricks before we headed home.
The next day my producer friend and I drove back – maybe an hour outside of Cape Town – to the brick factory. Unsure how to get access to these striking scenes, we decided to present me as a student of sorts, someone interested in the study of brickmaking. It wasn’t wholly untrue, I was interested. Sometimes it’s a surprise when a plan comes off, but we got a permit to walk around and take a few photos.
I walked with my Hasselblad H1 with Phase One P45 and as I shot the first few frames, I remember shaking a bit from excitement. Capturing the brick factory through the lens was that good, it was all I’d hoped seeing it from the car window the day before. We shot on, so many scenes and people drawing my lens. The women and men working at the factory – visible brick powder and mud on their faces – were especially compelling, and they were eager to pose for my camera.
I was trying to stay away from the office building, hoping no one would notice how much I was shooting. An hour passed wandering the factory yard, and I felt like I needed to be quick getting the shots I wanted. Wandering into a building, my camera gave me away. Far too big for a brick historian, too expensive for a student, I was exposed. The end was a blur of stern orders to leave, a sprint back to the car and a hurried exit with 4 memory cards of amazing images. It was worth the chance.
I recently reopened the files from that shoot and I was transported to seeing it through my window for the first time. With a fresh eye and ignited memory, I was able to create more images from that brick factory. A historian might have been a stretch – but I do feel like a student, always learning from what I’ve seen and shot.
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