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Koehler Kraft: Portrait of a Ship Builder

A few weeks ago, I traveled to San Diego to continue with my Hand-Made project which features artisans, craftsmen, and workers who make their living using their hands. While in San Diego, I set up two shoots with two artisans who do amazing work with their hands and whose work really personifies the lifestyle of a city like San Diego. As I’ve progressed along with this project, I’ve realized that for most people it’s easy to appreciate art when it’s showcased in a gallery but after experiencing it up close and watching what these men and women do, I can say that even though they might not be traditionally thought of as artists, there is truly an art to what they do.

The first of the two shoots in San Diego was of a ship builder C.F. Koehler and his crew at Koehler Kraft. When I began conceptualizing my Hand-Made project over a year ago, one of the images that kept popping into my head was that of a pair of hands using a plane on a boat (the tool kind of plane not the flying kind…cause that would make no sense.) While shooting at Koehler Kraft, I was able to capture that exact image and so much more. I was very fortunate to schedule the shoot with them when I did, due to the fact that they were in the midst of a number of really interesting projects. The ship yard was laid out like an evolution of sea navigation featuring boats built at a various times over the last 100 years. I was able to capture the entire range of boat repair, from the major overhauls to the final paint touch-ups. The owner, C.F. Koehler (pictured below) is a second generation ship builder and was in the midst of replanking the wooden hull of a massive 84 year old ship. Thanks to C.F., Kelly, and all the folks at Koehler Kraft for accommodating me. Enjoy the pictures and check back next week when I feature my shoot with the folks from Plus One Surfboards!

Philadelphia Industrial photographershipyard photographyblue paint bucket with brushtools at a shipyardclamps at a shipyardKoehler Kraft Boat

man replanking a boat at Koehler Kraft in San Diegoman sanding the side of a wood boatman planing the side of a large wood bookman using power grinder on a boatman at work on a ship
man using power sander on a boatman replanking a boatindustrial photography of a man with a wood planer

boat builderpropeller on a boatman sawing into the hull of a boat
man working with a hand saw on a boatman using powertool saw to cut into the steel hull of a boat
man cutting steel on a boatportrait of a ship builderman painting a ship

workers at a shipyardpile of chains on a boat yardpile of chains, a boat on a ship yard

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