deCroce blog of photography


A hard working roughneck offers much to photograph. And capturing their essence in single frame images was

part of my assignment in recent industrial photography and energy photography photo-shoots.

I hope the photographs here represent the character and dignity I encountered. 


 Roughneck At Work

Oil and gas Photographers

                                                  Roughnecks work on completion well in southern Texas





The hottest song on the charts that summer was was“Satisfaction”. The hook (that enduring guitar riff) made you want more. The drums drove a hard beat (for its time) as Jagger’s smooth voice told us “he can’t be a man cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.”

As I rode through the night on a Continental Trailways bus, the song was my mantra keeping rhythm with a droning bus engine and whirring tires on black asphalt below. An older kid (a teenager) must have had a cassette player, or maybe a transistor radio. And he’d turn heavy volume (for its time) when “Satisfaction” was played. It seemed to go on and on all night spurring my fixation on returning to my Denver home. I was ten.

Like other summers before and after, the season was anchored at my aunt’s farm on the plains of northern Montana. We called it a farm, but it seemed more like a ranch. They raised cattle, chickens, a few milk cows, horses, and lots of tadpoles and snakes down by the river. I learned how to drive a tractor, ride horses, shoot a rifle and crap in the outhouse. My annual summer adventure was so cool and I loved it. My cousins were always welcoming but none of them were my age. I got lonely and was ready to go home.

Sixteen hours is a long time for a kid to sit – felt like sixteen days. On my first solo trip, satisfaction was not coming easily. So I devised a game to ease the time. I imagined myself as different characters from history, like Native Americans from the Old West or bone-weary homesteaders of the pre-industrial age. Through the eyes of borrowed minds, I saw my experience anew. A lone farmhouse light in the distance – a passing freight train – became extrinsic objects.  I listened to “Satisfaction” through old dead ears and my boredom morphed into intrigue.

South of Cheyenne the darkness outside my window grew more and more lambent as the city drew nearer. My fantasy shifted. Now I was borrowing minds of the future – from a time when starlight is diminished by the glow of a global city, and busses travel at sound-speed propelled by air.

So what’s all this got to do with photographs of roughnecks? Hang on for a potential connection.

Roughneck Detail..


.Oil & Gas Photography Roughneck Portrait Gaze




Roughneck On ScaffoldRoughneck Action Photography.

.Roughneck Feet



Ever since I invented that game on the bus to numb time, I’ve used it often. And I know others do too. In fact, I suspect that everyone time-travels in their own mind on occasion. Why not? It’s free. I even do it when I work.

I make photographs every day. I photograph executives in glassy offices. I capture editorial pictures of business people in board-room meetings. And, as showcased here, I endeavor to create real-to-life images of roughnecks in the grit of cast-iron industry.


.A Roughneck Portrait

Roughneck portraits and oil and gas photography were captured for for Mana Resources in Texas.
Roughnecks on RigOil & Gas Photographers

A roughneck connects drilling pipe as photographer gets sprayed.

A roughneck connects drilling pipe as photographer gets sprayed.

Roughneck Portrait laughing.

.Roughnecks At WorkRoughneck Close Portraits.

.Roughneck Portrait.

.Roughneck TeamRoughnecks Repairing



Photographing a Roughneck


My father was also a photographer. In fact, his renown was world-wide – being featured in Hassleblad Magazine three times. Since his departure over 30 years ago, photography has evolved in incredible ways. For one thing, its so much more instant – we don’t use film anymore. When I listen, I hear his words of amazement and I feel his excitement. Because our combined negative file dates back over 70 years, I’ve seen firsthand the effect our photographs have had on the lives of the people we portray. So when I make a picture, I consider how this particular image –  this precise moment – will be interpreted by my grandkids’ generation.

Making these photographs of roughnecks (both the portraits and the editorial ones), sparked in me a premonition of sorts. When I look at the pictures, I can’t help but look through the eyes of future humans. What I see, is a chronology of the end of an era – a slow dissolve of the industrial epoch which made possible our comfortable lifestyle.

June 2016 was the hottest June of recorded time. We’re talking global temperatures here.  And that follows 14 consecutive months of all-time record breaking heat  Roughnecks read the facts of science like the rest of us. And they know climate change not a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese as presidential candidate Trump contends.

The roughnecks in these portrayals are good men – some of the most diligent workers I’ve seen. In the summer heat of south Texas, they have no need to pay dues to a work-out gym. Their hard sweat and dedication to their craft produce the lifeblood of modern times. They drive pickups and live in towns that don’t offer recycling. They’re remarkably innovative and relatively self sufficient.

An awkward transition will likely follow. And the livelihood of countless millions are at risk. But rather than standing idly by waiting for an impending catastrophe to reshape our global human path, action is vital.

Conversation sparks action.

.Roughneck Gloves


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