Portrait In Carbon Black

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Portrait In Carbon Black


Carbon black factory worker

Unlike the mysteriously fractured face of the man below, it’s clear why this man looks like death itself.  Carbon black.  A substance used mostly in tire production, and reminiscent of soot.  Actually, given how striking the image can be, it’s kind of a mundane explanation – despite the foreshadowing.

A comment on the flickr page where I found this described it as “inspiring”.  Not sure I follow that line of thought.  In fact, it’s the kind of comment usually made by people who have never had to really bust their ass all day, and go home dirty and sore.  There’s nothing inspiring about it.  Ugh.

September 18th, 2011|Categories: History|6 Comments


  1. bmj2k September 18, 2011 at 9:33 PM - Reply

    “Inspiring?” I guess it inspires me to never work in a carbon black factory, coal mine, or any other hellish job. It inspires me to never complain about having to wear a sport coat to work and sit behind a desk all day. And I will never complain about being able to see the sun from my workplace. Trust me, if that guy had a choice he work at any other job in the world.

    And I sure don’t see anything inspiring about his expression. I look at his face and see slight sadness and a hint of desperation. His eyes are sad, his mouth droops, and I am sure he is thinking “dammit, I have to do it all again tomorrow.”

    You are right, the people who call it “inspiring” have no clue what a hard day’s work is, let alone what a man like this goes through daily. They see a nobility in hard work, and maybe there is, but they don’t see the toil, drudgery, pain, and hardship in that man’s life.

    All that said, it is striking image and a great photo, made all the worse by the assumption of that man’s death from lung cancer in his near future.

  2. bmj2k September 18, 2011 at 9:34 PM - Reply

    And despite my current office job, I unloaded trucks for a living in my youth so I know hard work.

  3. Skinner September 19, 2011 at 10:17 AM - Reply

    Another great find, Jim.

    Agreed, as well, about your work commentary – I must admit, however, that the hand-rolled cigarette does put me in mind of my long gone grandfather, and his own taste for the same.

  4. Jim September 19, 2011 at 7:12 PM - Reply

    Thanks for the comments, gents.

    I think I’ll stay away from portraits for awhile. The front page of this blog is looking awful creepy.

    • bmj2k September 20, 2011 at 9:27 PM - Reply

      But Halloween is coming!

      • Jim September 21, 2011 at 6:34 PM - Reply

        Something tells me I’ll find more to post as the season approaches.

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