Small Trades

Penn+Small+Trades

What we do for a living occupies the largest part of our lives. Only sleep comes close.

Some are lucky enough to do something of monumental consequence in their work but most of us just play a small part in keeping the world ticking over.

Such is the lot of the men and women who fill the pages of Irving Penn’s book Small Trades’

At least they will have had the consolation of knowing that their efforts were being immortalized by one of the world’s most famous fashion photographers.

Bakers, fireman, butchers and cheese sellers are given a dignity and humanity in these simple compositions. You almost feel that in some cases they are about to speak to us in long forgotten dialects, leaping out of the shadowy past to capture our imagination.

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Some of the trades featured are disappearing or have gone completely, which is a disturbing thought. It would seem that these things we toil over and take so seriously are as transitory as ourselves.

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