What is Industrial Photography?
‘What is Industrial Photography’ is a question I’ve been asked a lot recently. When you work in a particular field, you’re fully immersed in the terminology. It’s easy to sometimes forget that for other people, the phrases used don’t necessarily make sense. That’s certainly true of photography where we’re using terms like ‘depth of field’, ‘aperture’, ‘exposure’ etc. on a regular basis and forgetting that other people don’t know what we mean. The same is true for the various niches that photographers work in. When I tell people that I’m working as an ‘industrial photographer’, what does that actually mean?
Well, it may mean different things to different people, so I’m not here to say ‘this is exactly what it means’. This is my take on it and what I think the term ‘industrial photography’ means.
Industrial Photography is a photography niche focussed on serving businesses within the industrial sector. This may include engineering companies, manufacturers, factories, high-tech start-ups etc. It actually covers quite a broad range of sectors and the common thread is that it usually involves companies who produce products requiring large scale machinery and/or facilities.
It can involve being in quite dirty and hazardous conditions, such as a saw-mill for example. Equally, it could involve being in very clean environments such as food production lines or drinks manufacturers.
Why Industrial Photography?
With a background in aerospace engineering, I find it really interesting to see how things are manufactured, assembled, designed or produced. A natural inquisitiveness for this type of thing lends itself well to photographing industrial applications. It’s not necessarily obvious to people outside of photography, but you really need to be interested in what you’re photographing in order to make it look it’s very best. When I get inside an industrial facility, I love seeing how everything works and as I’m asking more questions about everything, I gain an understanding that helps inform how I need to photograph things.
I can completely understand why many photographers wouldn’t be interested in the industrial sector. A machine filling drinks cans at a rate of 50,000 per hour, or compressor units being fitted to trucks isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! The lighting inside these places is often poor – from a photographer’s point of view anyway.
Bringing the two Worlds Together
I believe my technical background combined with my creative side and understanding of photography, puts me in a unique position to serve the industrial sector. The fact is I enjoy being in these environments and want to show the processes in their best light (pun fully intended!).
As mentioned above, Industrial Photography covers a broad range of areas. There’s plenty to keep the interest up. And there’s also a need for different types of photography within that – architectural photography of the facility, product photography of the machinery and products being produced, portrait photography of the people who work on the site……the list goes on.
What amazes me, is just how much industry there is in every corner of the country. Being based in Ledbury is ideal because we’re in easy reach of a number of cities, including Hereford, Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol and Birmingham. Even London is only a 3-hour train journey away. Even out here in the countryside, there’s a large number of industrial companies dotted around doing some really interesting work.
Have you commissioned Industrial Photography?
I’d love to know if you’ve ever commissioned industrial photography. What were your ‘pain points’? Did you get them resolved and were you satisfied with the outcome? Did your photographer ‘get’ the products or facilities they were photographing?