For 16 years I have owned my own industrial design and research studio so I became very exposed to factories, production workers and manufactured goods.
Over the years I became progressively more and more interested in the wider issues and stories behind the products and objects we use and consume. Issues of the human condition of work, the ethics of employment, well being, sustainability etc. are all very powerful issues that go way beyond the product itself.
To some degree these stories can be more compelling that the actual product coming off the end of a production line. Hence the work of my studio progressed into documentary making and taking a more holistic view of how our own work contributes in positive impactful ways such as issues of awareness.
I have also spent many years working in emerging markets and noticed that much of the photo journalistic work from these regions does tend to focus of the worst scenario, the most horrific conditions and the greatest suffering. Of course, many of these stories are real but they are not the whole story.
The documentary work of STUDIOFYNN (click here) tries to also include a perspective of positive progress and change even amongst difficult subject matter.
Hence the story of this garment factory came about.
In general it is usually very difficult to get access to such places especially with a camera. In this case I was introduced to the facility by a friend who was collaborating on a waste material recycling project with them so this assisted the process. Working in emerging markets does depend on personal connections much more than elsewhere in the world so time spent amongst people and culture is the only way to really build your network and insights.
A common thread between photo documentary and research is negotiating access to the subject matter. Without proper access it’s hard to tell the real story or get to the pertinent issues. I therefore spend a lot of time setting up a documentary, as it’s rarely something you can expect to be revealed before you as soon as you get off the plane. I was also very graciously received by the people, both management and production workers.
Although a work place dominated by the machine in this way may not appeal to most people, a production facility such as this is ahead of many in the region for offering decent work conditions and ethical labor practice. This is an important consideration in the context of an emerging market where awareness towards work and worker conditions are often in an evolutionary stage.
The facility was very efficiently run and meticulously clean. Everything seemed to work to a very precise order, from the production of the product to the workers breaks and recreation time. For me it is also fascinating to see the organization of labor and machine that goes into making a simple artifact such as a garment.
I think today we live in a world saturated by manufactured goods but we have little idea or concern as to where they come from and the stories behind them.
The juxtaposition of the workers and machines is a central element to the documentary. Trying to express the person or the humanity amongst the machine was a core consideration. Initially, one is mostly drawn to the machine and the scale of the facilities. I wanted to capture this but also introduce an element of portraiture or the human condition.
Therefore, I did not want to just be a remote observer so I tried to strike a balance between the context and the worker. I also wanted to capture the pristine nature of both the machines and the people, from the women’s clothing and jewelry to intricacy of the machine technology.
I found this a powerful, unusual and unexpected combination that communicated a certain pride at both a company and individual level.
The Human Marketing has the chance to host for the first time Shaun Fynn, designer and photogrpher that pays a particular attention to the human condition of workers. His proof and thoughts match perfectly with THM path and mission. In the meantime we wait for other contributions we thanks so much Shaun for accepting to share his job with us.