The more you look at this photograph, the more details stand out. There are 17 men, all engaged in some activity: pointing a gun, boxing, cutting hair, playing a musical instrument, reading a paper, enjoying whiskey, or staring at the photographer. That photographer was Fred Tyree, who took the picture in 1906 in Patarau, New Zealand. The men were workers at the Prouse and Saunders Flaxmill, where they harvested flax six days a week, and posed for the picture on a Sunday. Charles Anderson was intrigued by the photo and dug up what he could find about how it came about. He pieced together the lives the flax mill workers and the long, arduous journey Tyree took to Patarau.
That night he would rest at a tiny settlement manned by workers of Prouse and Saunders. Perhaps, Hindmarsh went on, Tyree would have joined in on the Saturday evening festivities, pleased to make it in time for the workers’ one day off a week the following day. Tyree would have drank beer with them, ingratiated himself so by the following day they were more than eager to indulge the photographer in a staged image.
Sunday morning would have been spent setting the scene beside one of the camp huts. A pirate flag was hoisted as a backdrop, bundles of flax carefully placed. Tyree would have choreographed every detail before finally climbing under the hood of his camera. Those 17 men posed in rock-still formation – one reading a newspaper, two pretending to box, another pointing a rifle at a stuffed kiwi, the cook standing proud in his whitest apron while a boxer drained a bottle. Some men bore tools, others washed clothes, three men played musical instruments.
Then, it was done.
Read the story of the most badass photograph ever taken in New Zealand at The Spinoff. -via Metafilter