Portrait of a Drywaller

Natalie Martinez 05/20/2014


Photos like this aren’t exactly planned, but are probably meant to be taken.

Today I went to the Dale House to check on the construction progress. Drywall compound was being sanded throughout the inside and puffs of white were billowing out of the windows. Sanders were humming along. I talked with the Superintendent and said that walking around the house would be good for today and that I would come back next week to check out the interior spaces. After we walked the site, I got back in my car and sat there. I could have just driven away, but I didn’t. I just sat there feeling like I was supposed to be doing something else while I was here, but didn’t know exactly what.

I remembered that my big camera was in the trunk.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I like to walk through my projects alone.  That’s what I decided to do.  I got out of the car even though there was no real reason to go back. I had already taken photos with my phone. So, I walked around the house and decided to go into the garage.

This guy was in the garage sanding the walls.

This is not staged and wasn’t meticulously fussed over. It’s the only photo I captured and I love it.

You know I have a place in my heart for those who choose to work with their hands and help make ideas and drawings become visible, tangible places in the world. It takes all of us to realize an idea. We bring our own story to the jobsite everyday. Sometimes it’s easier to read on some people, like the scars on our arms getting dusted with gypsum, or the people we build next to who don’t speak our language.

These places we call home have been built by many hands and regardless of who buys the home and if it means anything to them, I love what I do because all of these lives converge and make something great in just a few months time.


We design and construct million dollar houses and the people who build them are invisible to most people.   See additional posts about Portraits. Click through and leave a comment.

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  • May 21, 2014 at 8:34 am

    What an incredible photo! It totally took my breath away.

    And your talk about many hands reminded me of my favorite professor in college who did her doctoral work in Haiti–one common Haitian saying is “When the hands are many, the burden is light.” And having just undergone our own extensive house-hunt, this post is such a great reminder of how many people have been involved in this process.

    • May 21, 2014 at 11:49 am

      That’s a great quote and so true! This past Sunday the sermon was about being God’s hands and feet and it got me thinking about that as it relates to homebuilding. Just something I’m thinking more about these days. As for the portrait, I was trying to channel my inner Melanie! I’m going to have to get up to speed really quickly on my camera and strategies for better portraits.

  • May 21, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Awesome and moving, Natalie. A moving and important perspective.
    I saw this related exhibit last year that you might find interesting…

    • May 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Thanks for sharing that link. I do think about worker safety when I’m on the jobsite. Not just personal safety like wearing harnesses, etc, but physical safety from inhaling dust. Let me know if the CDC has another exhibit like this!

  • May 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Wonderful picture.

  • May 21, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Love this!

    • May 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

      I thought you’d like it!!

  • May 21, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Great story! What’s his name? The image librarian in me is also going to ask if he give permission to post? Are you going to share the post with his family? It’s such a nice photo!

    • May 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Yes, he gave me permission to take the photo and also to share on my website. No, I did not get his name and I regret not asking. You know that’s not like me. In the future, I’ll get a name to go along with the photo.

  • May 21, 2014 at 11:21 am

    This is so incredible Natalie. You are thinking big big BIG. And, I think you have a blue ocean here. I see an installation in a gallery. Absolutely stunning. You are putting all your gifts together. Love.


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