How First Responders Respond with Brian Doben and AT&T
Since Brian Doben officially launched his At Work series in 2013 it’s become a new window through which to understand his own work. By attaching the stories he tells to the work that his subjects spend their lives pursuing, it affords an opportunity to see them operating at the height of focus and passion. He was recently invited to a shoot for AT&T, embedding into a disaster zone situation to see how AT&T’s FirstNet gets everyone up and running on the other side of tragedy. “It was an incredible experience for me because I had the opportunity to work in a natural disaster environment with professional firefighters who embody the At Work philosophy of loving what they do,” Brian explains. “They’re very passionate people who work their entire life with their main goal of saving lives.”
There were no lives to save during the shoot: the entire situation was manufactured to create the campaign, which afforded everyone on set to take their time and get every epic moment possible. “They created a small town and they just made it look as though it was hit by disaster,” Brian explains. “They set fire to buildings, we had helicopters, and torn down buildings and had people working through the buildings. It was kind of a little bit of everything.” Briand had full run of the place while real firefighters and first responders did the work they would normally if the situation had higher stakes. This way, Brian was able to get the images that tell the stories of these incredible people without getting in the way of what they were doing. As an audience we need to understand how that work is done but without the risk of impeding it.
As part of At Work, Brian’s process is to have as light a touch as possible. He meets his subjects in their work spaces, spaces that are markedly theirs, and composes the images to highlight their unique personalities. There are no sets and nothing is manufactured. But this massive, Hollywood style, creation was something different. The truth of the work from his subjects is still intact, but the setting was created for the images. That was really fun for him. “I get to see people in all facets of life, usually it’s either creative people or business people, but to see people in action was kind of a different form which was exciting to be in,” Brian explains. “I got to be a kid and I got to hide under pieces of metal and in burnt out buildings and try to capture these moments because I was really left to my own accord to make epic images.”
Brian is always our guide when he enters a space and presents it to us later. This time he was able to show us something that the luckiest around us never get to see. And he did it in a way that was as safe as it was truthful.