Atlas Container is an old-line, established manufacturer of corrugated boxes. Sitting equidistant from Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis, Atlas is the type of industry that has long been part of the backbone of middle-class America. With approximately 180 employees, a sturdy, nondescript, mid-century facility and unfettered access, Atlas seemed to me beautifully positioned to benefit from a library of images highlighting its workers and its process.
My friend Paul Centenari, along with his brother Peter, owns Atlas Container and was very receptive when I recently proposed an extended project featuring portraits of the employees and images of the quite remarkable process that turns out something so ubiquitous, yet so necessary. A series like this requires a couple of important things. First, establishing a sense of familiarity between myself and the men and women who are, ultimately, much more interested in doing their jobs well than posing for a portrait, and second, the need for earplugs; the place is loud.
As I remind the people who work there, this will be fun. Oh, and the boss likes the idea.
After a couple of visits where my assistant and I wandered around (getting a lay of the land and avoiding getting smacked by the constant flow of fork-lifts) we started shooting some portraits. To date we have photographed close to sixty people and I wanted to start sharing some of the images. Here are a few from day one: