Case Study: Industrial Photography Hereford

Industrial Photography Brief

Client: Hereford Contract Canning

Location: Hereford, United Kingdom

The brief for this industrial photography assignment in Hereford was to provide updated images for a printed brochure and website. The brochure was being re-designed by Cheshire based media agency, Blue Hat Media.

There were three images primarily needed for the update; a headshot of one of the staff members, some shots of one of the (very impressive) automatic packing machines at the Hereford facility and a product shot of some of the finished products – sometimes called a pack-shot. The brochure demonstrates the capabilities of Hereford Contract Canning.

The Hereford Site

Tucked away on the northern side of Hereford, the company carries out small scale canning for drinks companies who need a relatively low volume of product delivered. The current site contains a canning line with state of the art packers capable of handling all types of liquid beverages.

Hereford Contract Canning, Facility Overview

The product is delivered at one end of the plant, processed into cans and packaged up, as required by the customer. Sounds simple when you say it like that, but there’s so much going on! I’d never been to a canning facility before, so it was really interesting to see what goes on. Being an ex-engineer myself and having studied Mechanical Engineering at Leeds University, I’m fascinated by a site like this. I really enjoy seeing how the system works and learning about the intricacies of each machine along the line.

While I was there, Kopparberg cider was being canned and packaged. The current output rate was 50,000 cans per hour! Apparently, this is quite slow! I had no idea these machines worked at such a rate, it was impressive to see.

The Shoot – Getting Started

Richard, the site director, showed me into a smart meeting room which I could use as a base and unpack my kit. We began with the headshot – required as the lady was not present at their previous headshot session. The brief was to match the style of the existing headshots, so it could be seamlessly slotted into the ‘about us’ page on their website.

After the headshot, it was time to get into the canning facility. Being a site handling drinks, there’s a strict hand cleaning protocol to be followed. I don’t wear a watch (I prefer to take ages to get my phone out of my pocket every time I need to see the time!!), but I understand watches are not permitted inside the factory. A good wash of the hands, a squirt of sanitiser and we were ready to go in. Plus of course a hard hat and high-vis vest! As with all industrial photography assignments, health and safety is critical – both mine and that of the people being photographed.

We got started at the machine we were due to be photographing. Now, I don’t know the technical name for this machine, but effectively it puts the cans into cardboard packaging. The cardboard boxes enter the machine flat-packed at one end and boxed up cans come out at the other end. The machine unfolds the boxes, inserts the cans and folds down the flaps to seal it all up.

The Packaging Machine at Hereford Contract Canning

While I’m photographing machinery during an industrial photography shoot, I like to take my time and explore the machinery from different angles. Spending some time simply observing what I’m photographing, usually means I’ll find an interesting to take a shot from. I’m always very grateful to clients who let me take that time, its part of the creative process and, I hope, usually yields interesting results.

An alternative view of the packaging machine at Hereford Contract Canning

A Tour of the Factory

As mentioned above, Richard very generously gave me a full tour of the factory during the shoot. It was so interesting to see and hear how everything works. Understanding what’s going on during an industrial photography shoot is imperative to getting good shots. Having a technical background, I believe I have something of a headstart over many photographers here, as it’s not a completely alien environment and I understand many of the technical terms being used. I also have a genuine interest in the machines and processes, which always helps. It’s easy to spot a photographer’s interest by looking through their portfolio of images.

One of the machines that really caught my attention was the one which actually fills the cans with the drink. At a rate of 50,000 per hour, getting fizzy cider into a can is no easy task! To enable this to happen so quickly, the drink is pressurised as it’s put into the can and the pressure is gradually released on its way round. By the time the can leaves the machine, the fizzy drink is under control –  very impressive when you consider how fast this is being carried out!

Control Panel at Hereford Contract Canning 


Studio Product Photography

The final part of this assignment was to photograph some of the products that Hereford Contract Canning produce. I asked if I could take the products back to the studio in Ledbury, as I have easy access to all my light modifiers and product photography ‘tricks’ there! So, I loaded up a case full of various canned drinks as I left Hereford.

Back in the studio, I had some fun shooting the products. There were a number of cans to photograph in groups, as well as some cans packaged up in plastic wrap and cardboard boxes. I produced a range of shots from which the clients could pick their favourites.

Pack-shot of Canned Drinks for Hereford Contract Canning

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.