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Oil Boom Boys. Photo: Chris Rusanowsky.

Oil Boom Boys photos show industry brotherhood and community

Oil Boom Boys is based on the documentation of young men working in the oil fields. Chris Rusanowsky, a freelance photojournalist and aspiring conflict correstpondent, moved to North Dakota to seek opportunity to further his career in journalism and to photograph the oil fields.

“As I started working at a frac sand facility I started to talk to the young guys like me, why they decided to leave their homes and come here to find employment,” said Rusanowsky. “We all had similar stories. We needed to make money. Some wanted to make a career or a name for themselves, and others were running away from a dark past. I grew to understand what the oil fields were really about… brotherhood and community.”

Rusanowsky’s poignant photos capture moments of respite after a long day’s work in the hard lines of a determined jaw. But most of all, Rusanowsky captured the camaraderie of the men in the oil fields. The Bakken oil boom brought people from all over the world before the price of oil began to drop at the end of 2014.

“We would work long hours under difficult conditions with an extreme amount of stress on our shoulders. We would get through the days because of our friends, and we would get through the months by looking at our checks. Life was hard and lonely, you found yourself working as many hours that you could pick up. These pictures are to show the young and motivated boys that took a risk and endured a lot of challenges to seek a better future.”


As the “boom” stage of the Bakken comes to an end, the oil fields continue to pump and produce oil. The oil industry in North Dakota isn’t going away. It’s just changing. The one thing that hasn’t changed–the men and women in the industry still rely on each other to make it through the difficult work, long weeks and time away from their families.

Chris Rusanowsky works as a freelance photojournalist in both the United States and internationally. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California. You can see more of his work at www.ChrisRusanowsky.com. You can follow him on Instagram @chrisrusanowsky.

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