observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Pride in Workmanship

One of my mother’s legacies is definitely that she taught me to have pride in everything I do, whether it was doing the laundry or managing a career. I’ve lived my life that way, in the same manner that she set the example for me to follow. One of the reasons I have a fascination with old architecture, vintage furnishings, wood boats or canoes, or anything that has been made by hand is simply that I understand and appreciate the work and effort — and often love — that went into those creations.


On a recent photo shoot, I was thrilled to see how the client’s barn, built in the early 1920’s was still standing and being kept in such fine condition, despite not having been used for decades. As with so many things built back then, it was erected by men who took pride in what they were doing and how they were doing it. It had to last because that building is what their life and income depended upon. Two buggies, one a going-to-town democrat and one a work wagon were positioned prominently beside that old red barn. I was informed that my client’s uncle had built both of them recently, fashioned after some parts he found on the old farm. When you look closely, the workmanship is flawless, the materials nothing but the best (intended for longevity), and the finishing shines just as the love he smoothed into it as he worked on those beautiful horse drawn buggies.

As some of you are aware, in recent months I’ve had to make some major changes with respect to the printing of the images that I have reproduced for my clients. I won’t rehash all the problems but they all relate to a lack of pride in workmanship — not on my part. As much as I enjoy the process of taking photographs, I glean even more pride when the final image is produced for presentation for my clients’ walls or coffee tables. Ultimately I found it necessary to send all my images out to a US-based printing partner, even though it means I’m paying more due to the added exchange on the dollar plus higher shipping costs. This is a partnership that I can see being long term and the reason is pride in workmanship. I am so pleased with the quality of product being returned to me from this printer and consistently so. They actually care about the quality of what they produce so I can, in turn, feel the pride I expect to feel when I deliver the final product to my clients. I am so glad I found a company that shares such a strong sense of professionalism.

Why don’t people teach pride of workmanship anymore? Why does it have to be a rare thing to experience or find?

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Gayle - August 26, 2009 - 9:40 pm

That is such a beautiful wagon. I am in awe of people that have the ability to create such beauty along with functionality.

Your questions are good ones. I wonder if it partially has to do with people not doing jobs that they love. But only partially I think. I worked in offices for many years and never loved the work, but I still gave it my all to produce the best work I could. If I didn’t work as hard as possible, I wouldn’t feel proud of the work or myself.

pernilla - August 27, 2009 - 2:21 am

Beautiful picture!
Interesting to read your thoughts. I keep asking my self the same questions as you. Maybe some people just don’t care anymore? I keep on working with my pictures until I feel proud of giving them away. The printing partners is a big problem. I’ve tried 5 different with 5 bad result In my country, Italy, before I gave up and sent them to Germany. Now I can fell proud!
Good luck with your pictures and prints.

Marcie - August 27, 2009 - 7:00 am

You pose an interesting question. Sometimes I think it’s a function of everyone wanting/needing ‘immediate gratification’..and not taking the time it takes to do it right and well.
Love the tones and colors in this image. A beautful piece of old farm ‘machinery’!!!!

sherri - August 27, 2009 - 8:16 am

Diane wrote: Why don’t people teach pride of workmanship anymore?

Because we’re a throw away society. Nobody plans for anything to last a hundred years. Your capture is lovely. The tones give it that yesteryear feel.

DesignTies - August 27, 2009 - 8:51 am

I love old barns. It makes me sad to see them neglected and falling apart. It’s wonderful that the owners of this barn have taken the time and care to keep it looking its best.

The wagon is fabulous — even in a picture, the quality of the workmanship shines through ๐Ÿ™‚

I think good workmanship isn’t as appreciated now because there are so many inferior options available for a lot less money. Look how many things sold in Canada are made in China — toys, clothes, furniture, dishes…. and for a fraction of the price of a similar quality item. Also, we’re very much into wanting things NOW. Why wait 6 weeks for something to be handmade when you can buy a similar mass-produced piece today??


Angela Fehr - August 27, 2009 - 6:36 pm

That pride of workmanship is one of the things I love best about my husband. I remember him agonizing over the railing he built for our verandah and when I encouraged him to make it simpler, or buy ready-made, he told me, “If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once.”