The New York Times photo-documentary, “The Sky Cowboys,” is one that works well due to coordination on all levels of the piece to work together.
The images, black and white in color evoke a tranquil duality, in contrast to the stories that the Sky Cowboys are sharing. The stillness of the photos allow for the audience to engage with the images being presented and to really take on the full depth of what each Sky Cowboy describes.
For instance, one of the men describes what he does in the moments that he has an opportunity to rest. He talks about how he seizes that moment to look over and into the city and the Empire State Building. Making this a moment that the audience can really connect with, as the visual is a photo of the worker staring out into what seems like the boundless skyline of the big apple.
Alongside visuals, the audio quality is quite pristine and truly captures a sense of place. The listener is able to envision the day of the workers: the sound of walkie-talkie communication, hammers banging, tools falling to the ground, drills humming, shoes walking and workplace chatter.
While these elements are very simple and basic in nature, they add complexity and texture to the story and aid the listener in an auditory journey through the experiences of the Sky Cowboys, and what a day on the job is like for them.
Combining these auditory and visual aids into one piece allows for the audience to be captivated and engaged in the story that is going to be told. These tools leave the audience with a desire to learn more about these incredible people, whom essentially build New York City, from the ground up.