Recently, a port just north of Portland, Oregon requested we visit their facilities to create test images for a future ad campaign. The industrial photography we created would be used to finalize the layout style and over-all feel of the campaign, before the final images were created.
Industrial photography is one of our favorite categories of work. Frequently the client doesn’t have the ability to shut down production and deal with the complexities of a high-production shoot. That means we’re presented with the challenge of creating visually impactful images without being able to control posing, positioning, or lighting.
Like all shoots, these types of run-n-gun industrial shoots are won or lost in the preparation. Before going out to the site, we find out what aspects of the site, the people, and the equipment are relevant and important to the client. Then we head out and survey the entire site. From there, we focus on the areas that will provide the most relevant and visually impactful images.
Relevance is pretty easy to identify: if the client needs photos of their new conveyor… then we focus on their new conveyor. Visual impact, however, is more nuanced. To create compelling industrial photographs, we consider composition, lighting, and activity.
First, we find pools of light that will create visual interest. Is there an area where a worker can stand in the sunlight, but have a background behind them? What structures create bounces for the natural light? What times of day will provide the best light for each area?
Second, we find interesting compositions within the pools of light. This can be as simple as lens choice, and as complex as borrowing a sky lift to get some elevation at just the right time of day.
And finally, we wait for the right moment. After selecting a scene, we’ll watch the activity for a few minutes to get a feel for the pacing, moments, body positioning, and expressions that will occur throughout the task cycle. It’s then a matter of capturing the compelling moments in the right light with the right composition.
After a little retouching and color grading we’re left with images that are just awesome! I think the thing I love most about industrial photography is the reminder that real people are still creating real things right here in the United States. There’s still space where people can step back at the end of the day and say “I built that” or “I loaded those logs”.
Do you need industrial photography or video? Contact us today!