Images in Industry
Beaches, mountains and sunsets are the places one expects to find appealing photographs. It probably wouldn’t occur to many people to seek them on a factory floor. Chimneys churning smoke into the sky bring to mind debates on climate change rather than photo opportunities, while an untidy mess of machinery strewn about a workshop emphasizes the humdrum of the industrial workplace.
At least, that’s how it appears. But if your profession is to find powerful images, you relish the challenge of finding them in the unlikeliest of places. That is the job of the industrial photographer, who has chosen to operate within jungles of the concrete variety rather than the exotic locations of wildlife and travel photography. Powerful images are present in nature, but they can also be found in man-made environments if one cares to look. In the hands of a skilled photographer these images can become iconic.
From the right angle, steel structures appear as glistening towers, and factory machinery looks like something out of your favorite steampunk setting. Manufacturing plants glowing at night can resemble giant Christmas trees, and photos of working environments can serve as tributes to the hard work performed by factory employees on a daily basis.
A Powerful form of Advertising
Many corporations are recruiting the skills of freelance photographers, knowing the powerful advertising tool presented by the ability to find poignant images in the mundane. Especially if it makes them and their workers look good, and illustrates the importance of the service they provide.
Some companies look in-house to provide these images, but most would deem that an ineffective allocation of resources, and prefer to outsource such work to professionals. Viewers can tell the difference between an image created by a trained photographer and one taken by a corporate executive, even if they don’t consciously realize it.
Industrial photography is a field that specializes in portraying the industrial environment. It blends skillsets from other fields, such as architectural photography, as people in this profession frequently operate amongst large structures, and it helps to have an eye for manipulating space within buildings. For both architectural and industrial photographers, proficiency with wide angle lens techniques is vital (thephotoargus.com).
It also blends the photography and advertising professions, and photographers will often work closely with the marketing departments of large firms.
Like many forms of photography, it’s about capturing people within a specific environment as much as the environment itself. Photographers see it as a chance to capture the industriousness of the human spirit, as well as the spirit of industry, finding many opportunities for creative storytelling. Dennis Ray Davis (DavisPhotographic), for, example, tries to emphasize the danger of the factory worker’s tasks, or find angles that show the factory worker in a position of superiority – an emperor ruling over a realm of machine denizens.
What’s Required of an Industrial Photographer?
According to macro-photography-for-all.com, the skills industrial photographers require include:
- Versatility: Industrial photographers can find themselves operating in many different environments. In a studio or outdoors, in an office space or an assembly room; they’ll need to be able to adjust their equipment and their mindset for each location.
- Equipment: The diversity of environments requires an expensive variety of equipment.
- Professionalism: A professional manner is required of photographers in this field, more-so then others because of the kind of people they’ll be dealing with.
- Communication: Industrial photographers will need to promote their services to small and large enterprises. They’ll need to cooperate with management and marketing to get a sense of how the organization wishes to be portrayed.
Photography courses can help develop the necessary skills, while apprenticeship to an established industrial photographer is one of the best ways to enter the profession.
With the advent of digital photography, the rising demand for images in society and the increasing emphasis on marketing for corporations, many believe industrial photography to be a field with an extremely bright future.
Matthew Flax is a budding photographer who believes whole-heartedly in the value of photography courses, such as those promoted by Now Learning.