Case Study: Industrial Photography Bradford

Industrial Photography Brief

Client: Gardner Denver Transport Division

Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

The brief for this industrial photography assignment in Bradford was to provide a wide range of images to be used in multiple ways, primarily website (refresh) and printed marketing materials. To achieve this, the client required images of employees at work, products being manufactured and fitted, as well as overview images of their facilities.


The Bradford Site(s)

There were two sites we’d be photographing; a manufacturing facility in Bradford where components are machined and assembled, and another site a few miles outside Bradford where components are assembled onto trucks and lorries.

I stayed the night near Bradford and after a hearty full English breakfast, arrived at the assembly site in the morning for the initial brief. This is where we’d start the day. The site was a large industrial unit, full of trucks and lorries being worked on by the team. In terms of available light, there was not much daylight available, so I’d be working under the fluorescent bulbs of the facility. These proved to be adequate and I generally bounced a flash to provide a little extra light and fill in shadows created by the lights above. This enables me to achieve a cleaner look to the images – which I prefer for industrial photography.

The second site, the manufacturing and assembly site, was based in a slightly smaller industrial unit closer to Bradford. The facility was full of typical industrial manufacturing machinery; CNC machines, lifting hoists, assembly areas etc. There was some natural light available here as well as daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs. The facility was split into specific areas so the manufacture and assembly of components flowed through in a logical sequence. Raw materials in at one end, with components being shipped from the other end.


The Shoot – Getting Started

The day was well planned prior to my arrival on site, with the client having a clear idea of some of the areas they’d like me to cover. We began with a tour of each facility, so I could see the areas available and provide some additional direction and ideas. Being in Bradford, I’d not had a chance to visit the site previously, but this is rarely a problem. As with most industrial photography assignments, it’s not always obvious to the client what type of images would be achievable. When you’re used to seeing a facility every day, you’re not necessarily looking at it with a photographer’s eye! There were some interesting things going on and some great details to capture.

We began at the larger site, where components were being fitted to vehicles. There was also a small amount of assembly taking place in some of the areas surrounding the main industrial unit. Sometimes as you’re walking through an industrial site, you’ll notice something sitting in a position that’s just perfect for a photograph. This was one of those occasions and one of the first images of the day – off to a good start!


The First Shot of the Day – Off to a Great Start!

Photographing People During an Industrial Photo Shoot

Employees working during an industrial photoshoot are not always aware that I’ll be there for the day. However, at Gardner Denver, I felt that everyone had been briefed and they were happy to be involved. As an industrial photographer, you have to be aware that the staff have a job to do as well. They may have deadlines to meet, with targets for each day etc. Generally, people are very helpful and this was certainly the case at Gardner Denver. I always try to work around people as much as possible. This enables them to get on with their work uninterrupted. It also enables me to observe what they’re actually doing and photograph the processes as realistically as possible. I sometimes ask them to repeat certain actions, but only once I know what they’re doing.


People at work – Gardner Denver Industrial Photography Shoot


Over at the manufacturing facility closer to Bradford city centre, we again began with a tour of the facility. We made a plan for how to cover everything efficiently and then got to work. Again, the staff were extremely helpful and happy to be photographed. I found the staff at this site were particularly proud of their work. I love seeing this and it comes across in the images – it’s a credit to the company. Some of them have been part of Gardner Denver for several decades and take a great deal of pride in what they do.


Manufacturing at Garder Denver, Bradford


Towards the end of the day, I was given the opportunity to ‘freestyle’ at each site! This meant having the time to wander around, observing what was taking place and capture anything I found interesting or photo-worthy. I really enjoy it when a client gives me this chance. Being an ex-aerospace engineer myself, I’m genuinely very interested in the work going on and being able to pick details to photograph is great fun! Its the intersection of my past life as an engineer with my current creative role which I love!


Details at Gardner Denver – Industrial Photo Shoot

Final Image Delivery

As with any photo shoot, whether an industrial photography shoot or not, the number of images in the final delivery can vary. I’ve had days setting up complicated product shots where I’ve only delivered 4 images from an entire day. Other days will produce over 100 shots. In the case of Gardner Denver, there were indeed over 100 shots that I considered to be useful for the client. We had a well planned and scheduled day in Bradford, which helps yield the best results. For more help on planning and preparing for a shoot, please see this blog post; How to Prepare for your Industrial Photography Shoot

The part of the process not seen by the client is the hours of editing that goes into any shoot after the event. The initial selecting of the best shots can take a long time in itself! Each image is individually edited to bring out the best qualities from the photograph.


Your Industrial Photography Shoot

If you’re planning an industrial photography shoot, or would simply like to find out more, I’m always happy to have a chat. There’s absolutely no obligation to book, so please contact me to discuss your ideas.