Finding a Great Industrial Photo

In this post, I want to expand on a point I touched on during the last blog post Pedantic Engineer to Industrial Photographer!

When you initially consider having a photo shoot, you may think it’ll be difficult to find interesting subject matters at your industrial facility. It’s fair to say that some industrial settings can be dirty and untidy. Many of them are also clean, tidy and very orderly. It very much depends on the industry and the work being done. A food production facility must be kept clean, while a metal fabrication plant will inherently have some degree of dirt and mess.

A Clean Canning Facility in Hereford

Whether your facility is clean and tidy or dirty and grubby, the intention is to document what you do and make you look like industry experts. I find the subject matter very interesting, so as I find out more about the machinery and processes, the best angles start to become clear.

Pre-Shoot Meeting

Ideally, we’ll have a meeting before the shoot to look round your facility and start generating some ideas. This isn’t always possible due to geography. So on the day of the shoot, we’ll begin with a tour round site and work out a plan for the day. As I outlined in my blog post, How to Prepare for your Industrial Photography Shoot, there are several things you can think about beforehand to help get the most from the day. In summary, these are:

1. Where and how are the photos going to be used?

2. What do you want to photograph?

3. What message or feeling do you want to convey?

4. Do you have any ideas and concepts for the industrial photography shoot?

6. Create a shot list and/or plan for the day

6. Prepare Products, People and Locations

Taking Time

Photography is a creative process and one of the things I’ve learned is that the creative process takes TIME. I’ll often stand at a machine or process taking place and simply observe for a while. This is an important time as it enables me to see what’s going on, understand the process more and be able to anticipate what will happen. Through understanding the process, I’m able to determine what to photograph, in order to show what you do and how you do it.

Understanding What’s Going On

It’s also important to ask plenty of questions. As a newbie photographer, I used to be a little hesitant to ask questions. It’s easy to think people may be irritated with you asking questions. But in fact its the opposite. Most people are really happy to talk about what they do.

When you have an understanding of what’s taking place, you’re able to take photos which show the important aspects of what’s happening. You’re also able to be in the right place at the right time, as things are happening. Some processes are timed, so you can be there when the next part takes place.

Another aspect to understanding what’s going on and asking questions is to ensure you don’t photograph something that’s going wrong! Inevitably, things go wrong in an industrial process. Not everything is perfect and mistakes are made. There’s little point in standing and taking photos of something that’s gone a little wrong, as the photos will not be used.

However, knowing which part of something has gone wrong may mean you can still photograph it. You’d just ensure the angles you’re choosing do not show the mistake.

Putting people at ease

Asking questions about what’s being done has a secondary effect. Aside from gaining more understanding of the process, it also helps to put people at ease. Putting people at ease is one of the most important jobs of any photographer. When people are comfortable with you being there it really shines through in the photos. There’s nothing worse than someone looking truly uncomfortable in a photo you want to use on the homepage of your website – not a great look for the business!

Putting People at Ease is a Prerequisite to Getting Great Photos

Interesting Angles and Close-Ups

Some areas of industrial facilities may be so grubby that you really don’t want them in your marketing materials! One way around this is to find interesting angles to shoot from and very often this means close up photos. Getting close to something has two positive effects; you eliminate the background which may be dirty and you reveal interesting details in the parts being photographed.

Photographing things close up often reveals some interesting patterns or details that wouldn’t otherwise be seen. I really enjoy getting in close and finding these details. They’re all around us and particularly present in industrial settings where there has to be a certain amount of order to things. Processing parts during manufacturing requires things to be set out in an orderly way. This can create some great repetitive patterns!

Patterns Revealed as you Move in Closer

There’s Always Something Interesting to Photograph

I believe there’s always a great photo to be found in an industrial setting. It’s just a matter of taking the time to find it. A fresh pair of eyes, photographer’s eyes, in the facility will inevitably help to bring that out. I love to hear the reactions from clients when I find an interesting angle amongst an industrial setting they thought was uninteresting!

Your Industrial Photo Shoot

If you’re considering an industrial photo shoot, but are unsure if there’s anything worth photographing at your facility, get in touch and let’s have a chat. I’m always happy to come and have a look round to advise on what could be done if you’re nearby. If you’re further afield, you could send me some snaps to give me an idea of what we’ll be shooting. Either way, I’m confident we’ll find something interesting to bring to your marketing materials.

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