Every picture tells its own complete story, and the "how" of a picture doesn't usually rate telling. But Cincinnati Local 212 member Dave Schwegmann's photo contest winner of Lineman Ryan Robles breaks that mold. Getting to this angle is at least as interesting as the picture itself.
Schwegmann was a photojournalist before he joined the IBEW at age 32 three decades ago. Not only does he still bring his equipment, he also brings a reporter's unstoppable desire to get the shot.
"I'm not bashful about getting in anywhere with my camera," he said.
When he saw a lineman being helicoptered onto a tower at a shuttered powerhouse he had worked on years before, he figured they had to be IBEW. And if they were, he said, he was pretty sure he could "Hey buddy" his way in.
The coal burner in Lawrenceburg, Ind., was being torn down and the substation repurposed as a tie-in across the Kentucky River to the Miami Fort power station in the background.
"I told my fiancée, 'If I can get on there, I can get some badass pictures,'" he said.
The 2021 photo contest voters seem to agree.
It took perseverance but he got on site, then got the blessing of Duke Energy and, finally, permission from the helicopter company.
The resulting photograph from the heartland won out over a strong class of runners-up and honorable mentions that capture the IBEW on the coasts.
When Brad Masse worked on a special project a few years ago that included landing a 40,000-pound bridge, he knew it would be one worth documenting.
Masse was part of a crew of roughly 100 Local 258 members that helped build part of a new transmission line that ran approximately 350 kilometers from Vancouver to the interior of British Columbia.
They pre-built sections of towers in a large fly yard, then the sky crane would land them and they'd climb the towers and bolt them together. "I chose this photo because it highlights the teamwork and dedication it took for all of us union members to complete it," Masse said.
Local 47's Paul Salgado took this picture of a lineman descending the pole during a rodeo in Butte, Mont. The best linemen move fast enough that wood chips fly in their wake, and Salgado captured that intensity. He also hopes he captured the lineman's heart and competitive spirit.
It's all part of Salgado's current job with Sturgeon Electric, where the journeyman lineman holds a marketing and media position that not only utilizes his photo skills but also has him hosts a podcast.
The switch came after Salgado was injured on the job, but he hasn't ruled out returning to the field someday.Ethan Furniss is a regular photo-taker around the job, he says, so it was natural for him one morning to pull out his phone and capture how the orange glow of sunrise could turn the plain concrete walls of his cavernous Hillsboro, Ore., construction site into temporary works of art.
Broadcast engineer Michael Ranweiler says he literally ran to capture this moment at the Stacker Butte site in the Columbia River Gorge one afternoon just as the clouds parted and the flowers were bursting into bloom. Not always stuck in a studio, he sometimes visits the site to maintain transmitter equipment.Broadcast engineer Michael Ranweiler says he literally ran to capture this moment at the Stacker Butte site in the Columbia River Gorge one afternoon just as the clouds parted and the flowers were bursting into bloom. Not always stuck in a studio, he sometimes visits the site to maintain transmitter equipment.
Mike Paras knows being able to gaze out an open wind turbine nacelle is an unusual experience. While working out of Cumberland, Md., Local 307 on a project near Elk Garden, W.Va., last summer, he captured another wind farm in the distance near Scherr Mountain, framed perfectly in the nacelle's opening.