Nearly 1,776 feet above Manhattan, Joe Buonocore did something very few others would: he looked down.
Instead of vertigo, Buonocore, a journeyman inside wireman and specialist climber for New York Local 3, captured his mind-bending view of fellow Local 3 member Chris Bugeaunu hanging from the spire of One World Trade Center.
Don’t worry, the iPhone was attached to a lanyard. When you are more than a quarter-mile off the ground, everything is.
“It’s like working Pinocchio up there,” Buonocore said.
His picture was one of hundreds submitted for the 19th Annual IBEW Photo Contest, and it rose high above the other 14 finalists during the month-long online vote. It won nearly one in five of the more than 7,000 votes cast.
The finalists this year included new takes on the kind of classic subjects that show up year after year, including “power lines silhouetted against a glorious sunset,” and “members at work in staggeringly beautiful places.”
But this year’s finalists went far beyond the expected. How many of us have seen a nuclear reactor refueled or the first light of dawn reflecting off torrents of water erupting from cliff-side spillways?
More than any recent contest, however, portraits featured prominently among the finalists and two were voter favorites. Yes, first place is the view from a place as exotic as any on Earth, but the second-place winner’s subject is unmistakably an individual, Honolulu Local 1260 member Cyana Stevens, captured doing what binds the members of the IBEW together: hard work, skillfully done.
We’d love to see more. So, turn your phones to landscape, max out the resolution, and start capturing your brothers and sisters close-up. Let the world see who we are, and in our faces, our strength.
From the street, the spire atop One World Trade Center looks impossibly delicate and far away, a slender needle hung with what look like small silver spheres.
Not for Buonocore and the other eight members of the Local 3 climbing crew. For them, the 408-foot spire –which on its own would be taller than the tallest building in at least 14 states – is a vertical job site and second home. For two years they have been transforming it from a decorative flourish into the indispensable heart of New York’s media, radio, television, and communications system.
In this picture, taken in July, Buonocore and Bugeaunu were replacing HDTV antennas. On another day, they installed dishes to receive broadcasts from TV trucks or relays for the NYPD’s communications system. And most days, when they take their breaks, out come the cameras.
“We all take pictures. When we are above the clouds; when fog rolls in from Brooklyn; the sunsets and sunrises,” Buonocore said. “Our phones are full of them.”
It’s one of the advantages when your work starts where the office building ends.
Buonocore said several of the crew submitted pictures for the contest and agreed that any money they won would go to the Local 3 strike fund to support the thousands of members who have been striking against Charter Communications for nearly a year.
Here’s what we can know about Honolulu Local 1260 member Cyana Stevens. She is strong, focused and skilled. Lee, a junior control officer, took this picture while assisting Stevens, who was changing out burner guns on a generating unit at Oahu’s Kahe Power Plant. The concentrated effort resonated with hundreds of voters. Lee said the picture was about more than the work Stevens was doing, though. “I wanted to show that not only are our brothers working hard on a daily basis, but also our sisters out there in the field,” Lee said.
Disorienting may be the best word for 2017. So many things seemed unbalanced and off-kilter. Maybe that is why Miller’s near perfectly symmetrical photograph was so popular. Miller, the Local 11 press secretary, took the picture of inside wireman Alton Wilkerson holding his end of the flag during the annual May Day march from MacArthur Park in Westlake to downtown L.A. Everything outside the frame may be in flux, but Wilkerson, also national president of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus RENEW, is a still point in the center of this image. The buildings, rigidly checked with windows, rise straight and true. The stripes of the flag flow calmly into, what we hope, is a brighter and more orderly future.
There is a remarkable stillness in Schalk’s picture of a Local 15 line crew repairing faults in a high-voltage transmission line. The reality of the midwinter shoot was the astonishing noise and power of the engine and rotors, the vibrating platform and wires and insulators swinging under the downdraft. Now look again at the picture. Each member of the three-man crew is so purposeful and concentrated that moment seems almost frozen. Schalk, the official photographer for Commonwealth Edison and Exelon for nearly four decades, now retired to warmer Arizona, assures it was not.
“The downdraft of the helicopter made for pretty cold, miserable conditions in January,” Schalk said.
Impera’s image of a Toronto streetcar in for maintenance looks like a transmission from the future. Everything is spotless, the red erupts out of the monochrome background. It looks impossible and real at the same time. In a way, both are true. Impera digitally transformed his picture of the Leslie Barns Street Car Repair facility, dimming every color but red into an industrial gray, lending a surreal air to the newly built shop.
Journeyman inside wireman Eric Mokan was standing on a ladder installing solar panels on a Princeton, N.J., office building when he caught sight of his Local 269 brother Marco Sciarrotta hovering in the clouds. Mokan was about 10 feet below the sloping solar array Sciarrotta was installing. “I saw the reflection of the sky and it looked like he was floating,” said Mokan, who grabbed his phone. As much as the reflection, though, it is Sciarotta’s shape that makes the picture special. The screwdriver is exactly vertical; his right leg and head are tilted exactly inline and his boot and thumb curve off perfectly in opposite directions.