Loggers captured at work in Larry Fink's Opening the Sky

Loggers, Grisdale Image copyright Larry Fink

During the 1970s, photographer Larry Fink documented the clubs of New York, camera and flashgun in hand, capturing what Max Kozloff described as "the 'me first' narcissism" of the time. In contrast, a new collection of work produced by Fink soon afterwards has just been published, showing the lives of loggers on the West Coast of the United States - and as you would expect, the images are a delight.

The project began in 1980 when the Seattle Art Museum contacted Fink with the offer of a grant to photograph anything he wanted in the state of Washington. At the time Fink was living on a farm, cutting wood for the fire having hauled it up the valley. He describes how this made him feel like a logger, so what then was more natural than to take his camera and document the "rugged breed of men who selectively pillaged the deep, virgin forest".

Fink was assigned a guide, logger Dave McCardale, and headed into the forest, travelling on small tracks to the site, in what he calls a ride with the "gas pedal to the floor".

With him he carried his flashgun, a Mamiya C330 and a Leica M2, relying on McCardale to keep him out of harm's way as the huge trees were felled.

"I was living a tentative life, jumping over logs rolling at me and sidestepping crevices and snakes, at the same time photographing the logging," he says.

Image copyright Larry fink
Image copyright Larry Fink

"Think of the sound from the back of a long tunnel. A whooooosh and slow silent rumble, then the gnawing ra-ta- tat-ta of the saw," he writes in the book.

"Its whine, searing as it lacerates 350 years of slow-time growth with quick-time destruction or production. Finally a great aching arch, a crack, a whir, and a long dark roar. Gravity takes its toll, hallow of time, silence then. A silence without time."

The pictures show the tough life of the loggers, yet also the beauty of the forest, despite the destruction being wrought. It might be a different world from the clubs of Manhattan, but Fink's eye is as sharp as ever.

Here is a selection of images from Opening the Sky by Larry Fink, published by Stanley/Barker.

Image copyright Larry Fink
Image copyright Larry Fink
Image copyright Larry Fink
Image copyright Larry Fink
Image copyright larry fink
Image copyright Larry Fink
Image copyright larry fink

All photographs © Larry Fink - STANLEY/BARKER.