21 Jul Tara Garner – Under Construction Photography
Episode 51: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Tara Garner. Tara is the founder and creative eye behind Under Construction Photography, social media and marketing development in the construction industry. Tara’s focus is to highlight the incredible men and women working blue collar jobs all over the world and to bring appreciation and dignity to their trades. What makes Tara passionate about photographing the people of this profession stems from her family’s history in the trade, spanning over five generations.
Ready? Listen in…
• So, the name of my company is Under Construction Photography. I come from five generations of iron workers, and so they’re kind of my inspiration, and what got me started into shooting construction. I worked in the office of IBEW and I worked at the Office of the iron workers doing compliance. And then I was a dispatch girl for 10 and a half years, and that also gave me a really cool connection with the members as well, or the workers. I had to deal with them on kind of personal times, because I was the dues lady, they had to pay their dues, but I enjoyed it, I enjoyed getting to know the workers on those different levels and… Yeah, it’s perfect, just pushed me in that direction more and more. (0:44)
• I had unfortunately lost my father 11 years ago, and his untimely passing was very tragic to me personally, because I idolized my dad a lot, and I watched him grow so much from being that worker to then being politically involved, fighting for his members. He took his oath so seriously, and so losing him tragically, unexpectedly, really, really then catapulted me into… Documentation of the workers. It was like the first job I went to, immediately, there was a couple old-timers out there, and they just started telling the stories about my dad, and I really, really enjoyed that because again, it was like, I got to see, or hear a different side of him in a way that I didn’t get to experience, but these guys did, out in the field. So, it was their camaraderie, their brotherhood, I just… I don’t know. Yeah, I really, really appreciated them sharing with me these stories, and that’s what pushed me more and more in the direction of documenting them, listening to them, and it was like therapy for me when I first started, to kind of really hold that in and use that to just make me feel better, and they felt good too telling these stories. It was like a feel good all the way around, and I really appreciated the open arms, open doors and arms that these guys offered to me when I did come out on to the job site. (3:30)
• It was a few different things that kind of transpired in the process, and me eventually being hired, I started the sticker Challenge on Facebook, I had all these people send me their stickers, and then after that, I started creating t-shirts and I would put real photos on the back, with the members on the guys that are in the raising gang connecting the iron, and they loved to see themselves on shirts, they loved to to see themselves in general, be glorified like that. But, to have now on a piece of apparel, it was really cool. And that was kind of another direction I was thinking about going, I was just not sure on how to make money at what I do. You gotta throw somethings against the wall. Right, right, see what sticks. And the t-shirt stuff, that was really a full venture… I mean, I had a map in my room that I started pinpointing where I was selling the shirts to all across the United States and Canada, and that was really neat. But it was a long hustle and I just like… I had to borrow money to even get that started, and then I was just… I got laid off my job. And it was like, sink or swim. What are we gonna do? Well, I gotta figure this out you know, like right now. So, I borrowed money from my brother and I started the shirt, and that was really cool, but then I want to say, I was out in LA, the Sixth Street Bridge in Boyle Heights, downtown LA area, was going to be demoed and before they demoed it though, there was a rebar company out there, I want to say it was LA steel. And they were constructing these massive cages that they were going to be pile driving into the ground for the new bridge. And when I came up on this site again, I was just WOW! And it’s that wow moment of what are these guys doing? These rebar cages were huge, huge! I’d never personally seen a rebar cage like that before. That was a first for me. So, the owner of that company ended up finding me, I think on Facebook, and wanting to purchase just one photo, and I think I sold it for 100 bucks or something. (12:48)
• My mission… That’s a good question, is awareness to the construction industry organizing, bringing to the forefront who these people are, because it’s just… I don’t know, it’s so emotional behind it, sorry. No, don’t apologize at all, I love your passion. And that’s what drives me. A lot of my decisions are emotionally made, I’m emotionally attached to my imagery, to all the work that I do in this industry, and I want people to feel how I feel about it, and I think I’m kind of weird though, because I’ll drive by a job site with my daughter in the car with me, and I’ll be like, I can’t believe what they’re doing! And she’s like, you know… I think it’s like a rule that children just don’t think what you’re doing is cool. My dad, my uncles and my grandfather, were all working in the construction industry, I didn’t understand it like I do now. I didn’t have the love for it then, that I do now. I loved them, but I didn’t know what they were doing either. it tool me having to be exposed to it to understand the depth of the work that they’re doing, and how important I felt it is. To recognize them. Absolutely. (21:11)
ABOUT TARA GARNER:
Tara Garner is the founder and creative eye behind Under Construction Photography, social media and marketing development in the construction industry. Tara knows the blue collar industry needs updated imagery and to bolster morale, she brings this to the workforce with her photographs. Tara’s work is a way to connect the men and women in the blue collar industry with their communities and the rest of the world. As a social media and branding expert, Tara works with the best in the field to strengthen their brands.
Tara is OSHA 10 certified and is up to date on job safety. She is also an award winning photographer and travels all over the country bringing awareness to the blue collar communities.
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