German photographer takes pictures of Sask. people at work

A German photographer who has been taking pictures of Canadians at their workplaces since 2006 says Saskatchewan is a focal point of his documentary project.

Martin Weinhold has spent 12 years on a self-financed documentary project in Canada

Bill Palmer at the Agrium potash mine in Vanscoy in 2011 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)

A German photographer who has been taking pictures of Canadians at their workplaces since 2006 says Saskatchewan is a focal point of his documentary project.

Martin Weinhold tried a similar project in Germany, but he "felt more free" approaching subjects in Canada. He has even become a permanent resident of Canada as a result of his work, which he is financing himself.

"Also there is this huge amount of space; that is something I can't find in Europe," he told The Morning Edition.

"So people are exposed to, let's say, a different dimension, and that's something that also intrigued me a lot – which is one of the reasons why particularly Saskatchewan became so interesting for me."

Pipe loader operators Steve Carfantan and James R. Nedellec at IPT Pipeyard in Kindersley in 2011 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)
Moose hide maker Mavis McLeod photographed in Stanley Mission in 2014 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)
Welder Craig Storbakken at Venables Machine Works Ltd. in Saskatoon in 2011 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)

Weinhold is fascinated by how people present themselves in the public sphere for their jobs. He spends about a week, or even longer, at a particular place where he wants to approach people and ask them to participate in the project.

Weinhold has visited numerous Saskatchewan communities.

At first "it seemed to be very tricky" to approach subjects in La Ronge, Sask., he said, but Weinhold met people through a local store owner who had a lot of connections to residents in the area.

"If there's a recommendation from somebody people know locally, that helps me a lot," he said. "But, of course, that requires that I'm not just there for a couple of hours."

Weinhold meets people in interesting ways. For example, he took photos at a Hutterite colony after connecting with an individual from the colony in a Tim Hortons parking lot.

"In the end, I was there three times," Weinhold said, noting he is now considered "almost a friend of the colony."

Grain farmer Ken Schmidt at the Schmidt farm near Kindersley in 2011 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)
Truck driver Sherri Dyck near the intersection of Highway 914/165 in 2016 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)
Ryan Raymond at an oil well service rig in the Kindersley area in 2014 (Submitted by Martin Weinhold)

Weinhold also spent time at a potash mine and is quite fond of a photo he took there.

"For me, it has something very fragile – this tiny person being about 1,400 metres underground," he said.

Weinhold is not making any money from his project, but does hope to eventually publish a book.

He said there is a need to document modern society for future generations.

"I see Canada as one of the most important nations for the future," he said.

"There's a huge potential in this country, and I would like to document the status quo from a very personal standpoint. And I think it is very personal if you approach people [on the basis of] 'What are you doing for a living? What do you live for?' This is what really drives me."

with files from The Morning Edition