Project 52

Assignment 15 - Expressed By Hands

As some of you know, I started a photography project on January 1st of this year, capturing people who are “Hands On.”  So far I’ve photographed and written blog posts about a few different artisans, from areas as diverse as a winemaker to someone who makes custom leather motorcycle seats.  The project slowed down significantly during the summer, and my commitment to the 52 week project limited my shooting time available for other things. 

This week’s Project 52 assignment gets me back into the hands on world.  The brief is to create a photograph of hands for a magazine article entitled “The Handmade Economy” about how handmade works are becoming a major new industry growing in cottages and homes all over the country.  I spent some time reviewing the work I had done previously and began to look for someone working in a completely different art form to feature for this assignment. 

My internet search led me to Joseph Nemeth, a former software developer and analyst at a hedge fund, who now has a custom made furniture business, Tempest Woodworking, which he runs out of a workshop in his garage.  I reached out to Joe via email to explain my project, and he wrote back right away agreeing to participate.  We met in his workshop, conveniently located two minutes from my house, on a very crisp Sunday morning in October.  

Joe Nemeth in his workshop in Ramsey, NJ

Joe Nemeth in his workshop in Ramsey, NJ

Joe started his first piece of furniture in March 2013 and has been building his business ever since.  He does commissioned work and has been written up in northjersey.com and njmonthly.com.  It was through custommade.com, a website for artisans to bid on projects posted by consumers, that I stumbled upon Tempest Woodworking.

On the morning of our shoot, Joe was working on a personal project, which came as the result of some networking he was doing online with other woodworkers around the globe.  The idea is this: one artist kicks off the project, creating something from wood, and each subsequent artist adds their own twist on the work of the previous participants.  Seven people from across Canada and the US were participating in the project with Joe.   There will be a write up by a British magazine when the work is completed.  The image below is the one I submitted for my project and depicts a close up of Joe carving his piece of the project.

Lit simply to accentuate the hands:  flash head with grid aimed at hands, softbox with grid providing back lighting.

Lit simply to accentuate the hands:  flash head with grid aimed at hands, softbox with grid providing back lighting.

You can follow the progress of this project on instagram, using the hashtag #johnswhimsyproject.

You can follow the progress of this project on instagram, using the hashtag #johnswhimsyproject.

After I had left, Joe finished his work and added it to the object he received from the previous artisans.  I asked if I could go back and photograph it before it got shipped off to its next recipient, so we caught up later in the week.  The image to the right shows where it stood when Joe shipped it.

I’d like to say thanks to Joe for his willingness to participate and for his time.  You can check out his work at his website http://www.tempestwoodworking.com.   

I was very grateful for this assignment, as it has reinvigorated my “Hands On” project.  Since finding Joe, I’ve gotten agreement from six other artists to participate.  I’ve also made a connection with The Maker Depot, a workspace for craftspeople in Totowa, NJ, and they are identifying members who might be interested in being photographed and profiled in the blog.   I’m looking forward to finishing the year strong!

Next week’s assignment is a Halloween image, shot for a magazine article on the Origins of Halloween.   It can be people, still life, food or product.  I’m formulating a lot of ideas, so come back next week to see what I got up to…I’m leaning toward a graveyard shoot!