Word-A-Week – WORKERS

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas A. Edison



Suellewellyn’s Word-A-Week challenge “workers” has given me a welcome opportunity to feature one of my favorite subjects – everyday life.  It is one of photography’s most difficult challenges, since most people tend to pose or freeze up at the sight of a lens.



“By the work one knows the workman.”

Jean de la Fontaine

Lately the photography challenges have led me to feature landscapes or flora/fauna.  In fact, I find that focusing on people as they go about their daily lives often times can give us a more interesting perspective on the world at-large than a view of its scenery.



“There is joy in work.”

Henry Ford

Both at home and while traveling, we find people hard at work,  smiling or miserable….heads down or  up….young or old….male or female.   The challenge is to capture their spirits without infringing on their personal space.



“Look for peace and calm in work.  You will find it nowhere else.”

Dmitri Mendeleev



“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.



“Where there is a worker, there lies a nation.”

Eva Peron

As we sit at the table, do we think about the farmer who worked the land, or the fisherman who braved the sea?  Do we consider the trucker who delivered their bounty, or the grocer who stocked the shelves?  As we enjoy the comfort of our homes do we consider the woodsman who felled the trees or the iron worker who fired the nails or the carpenter who finished the boards?  



“Work as though everything depended on you.”

Saint Augustine

So many people work hard to ensure that we live safely, and in comfort.  The recent horrors in Boston remind us of how difficult and dangerous the work of our police, fire and medical personnel can be, yet they show up each day, usually without notice or praise, to quietly do their jobs.



Let us all take a moment to think about what life would be like without the efforts of so many.  And to thank Suellewellyn for reminding us to be grateful for them.

To see more entries in the Workers Word-A-Week challenge, click on the link at the beginning of this post.

85 thoughts on “Word-A-Week – WORKERS

  1. Nice pictures of the working class! Not sure how many find “joy in their work” though. Manual scavenging, although banned by the establishment, is still practiced in India. That is ‘work’ for them, a means of survival. It’s nice that photographers like you capture the spirit of the working class and highlight their everyday struggles.

    • Thanks Uday. I’m sure you’re right about many workers. I was fortunate to work in a “white-collar” environment but I often thought of the plight of those in less fortunate circumstances. I Cannot even imagine the lives of those, like the scavengers or the people who worked in the India factory that burned. Thank you for the reminder.

      Sent from my iPad

      • Thanks Tina 🙂 Yes, we are fortunate to work in a comfortable environment. The majority aren’t. It’s very important that they agitate, organize educate to end their exploitation and strengthen their bargaining power. Photographers as artists can sure help their cause 🙂

  2. Hi Tina, thank you for visiting and the comment. But I have a little difficulty with your quotes about work and the images you have connected to the. I am from working class stock, my father worked from 5am filleting fish on a dock open to all weathrs and mornings so cold the knife freezing to the board. I followed him from the age of 15, at 16 my father got me fired and and made it impossible for me to work on the docks. The last thing he would want is a photo of him and a quote from some high brow. Do you think that the man pushing his equipment through the muddy field for a few pennies a day care about a qoute about work? “Where there is a worker, there lies a nation.” what would Peron know about work?
    Work as though everything depended on you.” Saint Augustine, tell that to them women who spend every day back breaking work planting rice, they avoid, snakes, leeches and land mines left over from the war.
    I myself served my country, the spent my days labouring building homes and working in slaughter houses, do I want a quote? No I wanted to do my job and get out that place. Great images, great entertainment and educational quotes for those who have never work in a field, in a sweat shop, under a regime, who will never try and feed them and their family on less then a dollar a day, if they are lucky. I suggest that next time you put images with quotes you stop and think what would the person in the image think.

    • I apologize for having offended you – I meant for the blog to honor the workers. I have never been a worker in the fields so cannot empathize, but I’ve never been thought of as a highbrow (until now at least). Thank you for your comment and your sincere effort to help me see further into the lives of others.

      • Hi Tina no need to apologise, because of the increasing wealth in the west, people tend to forget that the majority of our products come from fields ans factories of very poor workers. We saw in Dhaka 350 workers and over 100 still missing when a building collapsed on mainly women who are making less then $2 a day making clothes for the people in the west.


        I am not part of any organisation, or protest group I just feel for those people who work long hours for little pay all over the world. But people say to me “oh I will by home grown” but because society crave these goods we are not able to buy local any more as local is the other side of the world and if it wasn’t tens of thousands would die, thats the situation now Tina. 7 years ago I was in Bulgaria and I hired a local translator and in the market place an old woman approach ed me selling wooden spoons of all sizes, I offered to buy a big one and she gave me it and I asked how much it was 1 lev about 50c she told me her husband is disabled and he carves these by hand. I offer her 20 lev more then a weeks wages, she refused when I asked why, she tells me that it would be begging, I apologised to her and offered to buy all her spoons she agreed. Thats all she wanted honest wage for honest work, What she didn’t see was me slipping 100 lev in the pocket of her coat, she could take the week off but some how I knew she wouldn’t. Take Care Tina =)

      • I saw that news and my husband and I talked about it at length. I appreciate where you are coming from and thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. Tina, you honored many workers from many walks of life, the world over. I struggled with this topic all week. I have only the pictures in my head, however. I commend you on a very thoughtful presentation of people who do difficult labor in other countries – and those who serve this one.

    Every blog I wrote went a different direction, by virtue of research into dark-ish subject matter. Toward the end of the deadline for this project, I received my 4th copy of the list of quotes from the book. And I still laughed. So I went with humor. I’m rewarded to see that most people appreciate this humor – and they could laugh.

    I commend all the hard workers, the talented workers, the people who do go in day in and day out – and take advantage of the opportunity of work.
    And for those who can use humor in their day to relieve the stress, the boredom, or just to share a laugh – do it. The work day will be a little shorter.

    (Wow, ya’ll are exceptional photographers! I either can’t or don’t take a camera when I travel. I love the pics!!

  4. Oh my goodness. Each one is uniquely fascinating & amazing. First one looks like an opening scene in a movie!! I am serious. And the last one is a real beauty. Thnx for sharing.

  5. So talented you are Tina ! You make it all look so natural . I love ‘start of a long day’ could be the start of a movie …

  6. Pingback: a word a week photo challenge: worker | my sweetpainteddreams

  7. SUPERB post, Tina. I am remiss in not getting to your blog more often – it’s always so good – and this time, especially so, with your words and photos. I agree, as someone who mostly photographs the natural world, it’s important to include people, and very challenging! You have so many great shots here.

  8. Hi Tina,

    Great photos and accompanying thoughts regarding the diversity of what is work. With so much of diversity, I would see enormous opportunities for workers everywhere. Why is it then that there exists so much unemployment the world over?


  9. Let me supplement the Edison quotation with this one by Vidal Sassoon, who was repeating what he’d learned from one of his teachers: “The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary.”

  10. Very nice and varied selection you have here.
    I particularly like the first one. You know that girl is thinking the same thing we all do at the beginning of a long day…..All those things she could get done, if she didn’t have to work! 😀

  11. Beautiful selection, Tina. “Start of a Long Day” broke my heart a little bit. A proud and gorgeous young woman, I can’t help but wonder what was on her mind.

    • Thanks Tom – I had fun with this one. The commitment shot was just lucky. we were in NYC last 9/11 and our kids’ apartment overlooks the WTC. I saw them assembling and ran down for a few shots. Made me cry I was so emotional about their pride.

  12. What a lovely post Tina and yes, most of the times we forget about these hardworking people that gives us our comforts. Thanks for the reminder and the lovely photo’s. 🙂 *hugs*

  13. Tina, I really, really liked these photos and words. I especially liked the first woman with the basket who looked to be daydreaming about where she might like to be and the trucker who might need a good massage.

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