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Kevin O’Connor’s Photos Through the Years

Between takes, Kevin O’Connor captures the action from the other side of the lens. Here, he gives us some backstory

Kevin Between Clicks

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Like many a new father, our TOH host greeted the birth of his first child by rushing out to buy a camera: “You have a new baby, and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I gotta take pictures of this kid!’ ” That was 14 years ago—and only Kevin’s second year on This Old House. Eventually, as he developed a habit of carrying his camera around, he thought to take it to the job site. “I quickly realized that I was in some pretty remarkable situations, whether it was behind the scenes with the guys, seeing the renovation process up close, or documenting our travels,” he says now. “So I just started snapping away.”

Shown: Photographer Anthony Tieuli captured Kevin between clicks with his trusty Canon Mark IV at the Brookline House.

Apprentice on the Roof

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

This was before Facebook and iPhones and Instagram, and Kevin wasn’t thinking about other people seeing his shots. But the more photographs he took, the more he enjoyed doing it, and the better he got at it. He’s drawn to capturing the cast and crew working at their craft amid the hubbub of the job site, and quieter moments that speak to the process, too, like wood curling off a block plane. Now his photos appear regularly in TOH magazine, on the TOH website, and on his social media. Since he’s one of the few on set for full days when the show is filming, he’s realized he has become the “unofficial chronicler” of This Old House. “Now I feel a responsibility to grab as many of these unique moments as I can.”

Shown: “That’s apprentice Kevin Barker in the foreground, on the roof at Jamestown. He’s a Marine, and he’s got some experience; you can see it in how he carries himself.”

Generations Framed

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is cool because they’re framed like they’re on their own canvas: Expert master patiently shares lessons with new apprentice. The fact that the apprentice (Bailey Beers) is a young woman with a tattoo on her arm and the master is the old guy with some gray in his moustache says it all.”

Heroic Pose

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Here’s Kevin Barker on the Jamestown roof again, where they’re popping in a dormer. It’s kind of an easy shot, the heroic pose. All the lines, including my sight line, are pointing up to the sky. It feels aspirational.”

From on High

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is at our new build, up in Essex, and I’m taking advantage of one of those unique opportunities. I’m in the lift with the TV camera guy as he’s getting this shot, looking down as the cupola is being lifted into place.”

Norm at Work

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“I love this kind of ‘heavenly light.’ And it’s Norm, who can build anything, just tapping together two pieces of wood using a simple $20 hammer, nothing fancy.”

Close Shavings

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is one of those close-ups I like to take. It’s Tommy in Weston, using a basic carpenter’s tool, a simple little block plane. How could you go wrong when you see a pair of well-worn hands working like this and the wood curling?”

Tommy on the Level

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Tommy’s in Brookline sharing one of his gems for simplifying the process of installing a door. But it’s also metaphorical: Here’s a guy you can trust, who’s just rock solid in everything he does, and who’s always on the level.”

Richard Strikes a Pose

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is how I like to do portraits. During a quick break in filming in Charleston, I asked Richard to turn around and smile. With the old wood, and the finished balustrade, and different layers of the house exposed, there was just so much texture.”

Apprentice Austin Wilson

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Apprentice Austin Wilson’s tool belt is still clean and fresh here at Newton. Norm was giving a lesson about framing an interior wall and checking to see if a board is straight, and now Austin’s setting about doing it.”

Mason Hard at Work

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Mark McCullough runs his own company, he’s the boss, but when he’s with us, he’s sweating, he’s getting dirty, like any other mason or laborer. A couple hours into the day, he’s leaning into the work, literally, shoring up the foundation of the Brookline House.”

Dusted Tommy

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Classic Tommy, covered in dust, in his hard hat, and doing his thing on the Charleston job site, but patiently stopping midstream for me to get a shot.”

Roger Builds a Wall

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is Newton; the stone wall was fabricated off-site and craned into place in sections. It’s a new way to make a wall, but it’s the same old Roger, just checking to make sure everything is set properly. But in this case there’s no dirt or mud on him because the hard work was done elsewhere.”

Kevin’s Old Tool Belt

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is the tool belt that I started using before I was on the show. I used it a ton when we were renovating our house, because it fit like a glove, and it was simple. I was just sitting there, and the light was right, and I took the shot with my iPhone. Every Thanksgiving I post it to my social media with the same caption: ‘Day of rest. Give thanks.’ ”

Fireplace Enlarging

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is at the Charleston Single House, a fully brick building, and we were enlarging a fireplace opening for a high-Btu gas range and powerful vent fan. It’s kind of cool that when this house was built, fireplaces like this one were used for heating and cooking, and we’re repurposing it to bring the heat, the fire, into this space again.”

Intricate Workshop Details

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is the workshop of Born Again Heartwoods in Meggett, South Carolina. The materials have this remarkable look and feel to them. This is one of those texture shots; I’m constantly shooting brick walls, stone walls, wood walls, tile floors. This one is pretty intricate; just look at the pliers.”

Cutting Out a Window

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“That’s apprentice Kevin Barker, cutting a window opening in a cloud of chips and sawdust. He’s up on a ladder, manhandling the router, just going after it.”

Ton of Bricks

Photo by Kevin O'Connor

“I was taken with this wall in Charleston, next to our Single House, and the pile of bricks. The house is brick, like ours, which you can see in the upper-left corner, but it had been parged with concrete, probably when they gave up on repointing it. Then they etched lines into the concrete to give the appearance that it was block.”

Ready for Work

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“This is early on in Jamestown, and apprentice Mary McGuire Smith is just giddy to be on the job site doing stuff. When she threw on her bibs and belt, she was just like, ‘Ah, yeah, I’m ready to go.’ ”

More Level

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“Minutes before this, Tommy was on the other side of the door for a scene when the television cameras moved for just a moment. He flipped sides to check his work, and I took the opportunity for the shot.”

Happy at the Job

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“It’s obviously a cold day in Jamestown, but apprentice Mary McGuire Smith, who came to us from Mississippi, couldn’t be happier to be on the job.”

Portrait of a Carpenter

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“A carpenter’s work can be solitary and tedious. Here, John Toppino, a longtime Silva Brothers employee, is working on scores of balusters for the three-story balustrade in the Arlington House. He does special, complicated stuff. And can work for hours in complete silence.”

Tommy at Rest

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“It’s wrap day in Jamestown, the house is officially done, and Tommy is just taking a load off. He happened to be sitting right at the juncture between the old house to the left and the new addition to the right.”

Carrying Beam Proud

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

This is Brookline, where they’re putting in a post for a new carrying beam for the kitchen. This is hot and sweaty Tommy, enjoying everything he does.”

Frame Assembly

Photo by Kevin O’Connor

“The Jamestown crew set up shop in the garage to assemble the timber framing for the rest of the building. It drew my attention because it showed off the timber-frame nature of the construction.”