“Now back up against the furnaces and stand still.” With the metabolism of a heavily caffeinated chipmunk and the curiosity of a five-year old, Bullseye’s production manager is rarely in one place for long.
Sam Andreakos epitomizes the best of Bullseye’s people. In the 30 years that he’s been in the factory, he’s met and wrestled to the ground every high-speed challenge I’ve seen thrown his way.
The last two years have thrown him some doozies: keeping the factory running with 80% of our production curtailed by the State; scheduling enough glass to avoid major lay-offs. The list is not short.
Sam’s gone to hell and back more than once. My favorite trip was the one he took to the Middle Ages in search of a formula to make green glass without chrome.
Standing still, however, may be the Mother of all Sam’s Challenges.
I hurled that one at him – and at dozens of other Bullseye peeps – when I embarked on a project to capture our people on film – the old-fashioned way.
It seemed appropriate. A factory based on hand labor, that uses equipment and methods patented in France in the 17th century. These portraits needed to reflect tradition, long exposures, and a photographer keen to take the chance.
That last bill was filled by Robbie McClaran, a Portland freelancer whose eye for people in their spaces caught my own eye some months ago.
“I’ll be shooting on a 4 x 5 Toyo Field camera, using one of two lenses, a 100mm Kodak Wide Field Ektar that is roughly 70 years old, and a more contemporary 150mm Schneider from the ‘80s.” He might as well have been speaking Chamicuro for all I understood.
Still, I liked the idea of black and white film (Ilford HP5), a dark room, and hand processing.
So, that’s where I am currently: hitting up staff from various departments, brainstorming locations that snag the unique corners of this complex organism, and hoping that our hyperactive team has the patience to stand still for four seconds. Or more.
Bullseye! Sam at a more typical speed, hurling ferocious fastballs at a dunk tank victim during the company picnic.
As we all know, glass is the ideal medium for freezing motion, for capturing time as it passes, for preservation. That’s our aim – on so many fronts – in the months ahead.
BTW: the B&W image at the top is NOT a McClaran. It’s my iPhone with the noir filter. I couldn’t photograph anything if I couldn’t cheat!
Jaws of glass. Once in the summer of 1992 we managed to get Sam to hold still while wearing a shark mask. It wasn’t easy. We’ve long suspected that, like certain of that species, constant movement is essential to his survival.
Later this month I’m hoping to get Sam to slow down long enough to revisit the project made by the kids above. Stay tuned.