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Taos, New Mexico. In an effort to contain the thoughts and ideas so far swirling around, and to provide mikeroweWORKS.com with enough info to work with, I hereby offer the following:
The Journeyman Project is the personal odyssey of Troy Paff, photographer and camera man for Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. While on hiatus from TV production, he will travel the roads of America to photograph the workers of 21st century America, and with his camera conduct a visual survey of the tradesmen and skilled labor that persevere in today’s Great Recession.
In the five years since Dirty Jobs’ premiere, its small production crew has encountered an unprecedented number of vocations. With nearly 300 jobs and 50 states under their belt, Dirty Jobs has investigated – and celebrated – those occupations which, while often unsavory, keep the country running. A common thread which runs through these occupations is a particular character required to do them. It is a fundamental commitment to do a job and do it well, where glamour takes a back seat to service, and where pride in a job done well is its own reward. It is this sense of character that Troy will investigate, shining a light on the individual behind the job, and expressing the personality and the motivations of the worker.
The route Troy takes will be an evolving one directed by the subjects of the project. Some of the subjects Troy knows, or has wanted to meet. While many of the Dirty Jobs alumni will be revisited, referrals from this ‘family’ will further lead him to individuals who exemplify that same through-line of character: the tradesmen and skilled labor who are driven to succeed in spite of the challenges of their vocations and the hardships of the economy, if not because of them.
The style of expression will be personal, and it will be intimate. This project shall be a celebration of the individual, and over time and the course of a growing compendium of subjects, it will express the collective character of the worker in contemporary America. In an environment where ‘The American Dream’ has been outmoded, themes to be sensitive toward include the trending decline of the trades and the growing demand for skilled workers, the loss of manufacturing and the effect of trade agreements with Asia and Central America, the decline of infrastructure, high unemployment rates, the housing and mortgage crisis, continued war and national security, ecological catastrophes, and just what ‘recovery’ means in the 21st century.
The mechanics of expression will showcase portraiture as a hub. In addition to still photography there will be elements of video which will function as ‘moving portraiture.’ Narrative copy will be written by Troy as an expression of his experience with the subject, and will serve to flesh out the pictorial entries and provide context.
The use of contemporary technology makes the immediacy of this endeavor a compelling aspect of its creation. Because much of the appeal of this project lies in the real time aspect of discovery and creation, it is relevant to maintain a blog of the journey which a growing audience can follow.