I was recently hired to do a photo shoot at Toyota Boshoku, an interior trim facility for the automotive industry. As in nearly all photographic assignments, there were challenges that awaited me. For this particular photography project, time was limited and decisions had to be made quickly once our scouting with the client had been completed.
For this lifestyle photograph, one of several created that day, we temporarily employed one of the staff seamstresses to assist us. We set up quickly using just a key and a rim light, mixing with the ambient light of the facility. Our client was pleased with the results as we were able to help tell their story of quality automotive finishing.
Industrial products often have a story to tell, like how or why they enhance production, or the utility of a specific product. It’s my job to tell that story visually. How do all those parts fit together to make a connector? As always I am interested in your thoughts.
I enjoy the opportunity to work with good designers and art directors. Their collaboration invariable produces better photographs, brochures, catalogs, ads and websites. I had the good fortune to work with Designers & Partners on this project. This photo was assembled in Photoshop from individual shots of all of the parts our client makes for a 9 speed transmission. Shooting shiny parts is almost always fun. As always, I am interested in your thoughts and comments.
Detroit seems to revolve around cars. Almost everything is related to the auto industry in one way or another. Aftermarket parts and original equipment parts make up a large segment of the Detroit economy. Shooting exhaust systems and the mechanics who work on them is just another part of the automotive universe. As always I am interested in your thoughts.
Corporate portraits can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Most often it seems executives need head-shots photographed against a simple seamless or traditional portraiture backdrop. I photograph many executives each year this way, both in my Troy, Michigan studio and also at the subject’s business headquarters. But environmental portraits, or more specifically as in the photo below, an industrial portrait, brings with it more challenges and often times a more enticing photograph.
This particular portrait was photographed inside a forging plant, which was hot, dirty and noisy. It was nearly impossible to communicate with either my photo assistant or my corporate clients by speaking, so hand signals became my primary source to convey directions. As with any corporate portrait, the subject is the star, but an environmental portrait can also help tell the client’s story.
It may look like this was shot in a gritty, dimly lit industrial warehouse, but in fact, it was shot in the relative comfort of our studio. I found a floor to shoot at a factory nearby, and stripped that in under the lift truck. I love that photography can portray an alternate reality. In fact, that’s the core of our business, to make things look better than they actually do. In this case, few industrial warehouses with this lift truck would be quite so gritty. These are high-end lift trucks and more likely to be found in a modern commercial warehouse that is clean and well lit. I like the tough gritty feel though, as it does communicate that it’s a durable, well built machine. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.
One of the really great things about being a commercial photographer is the glimpse we get into processes or industries that normally go unnoticed. We did a shoot for a company that makes, among other things, speaker grills for cars. As we shot, our client explained why his product is superior to his competitors’. This is not only interesting, but helps us highlight or emphasize the important features or manufacturing processes.
This is another job that Dave and I used a tag team approach to execute. As usual, I completed the studio portion of the project, while Dave did the location shooting.
I suppose you could call this industrial photography. It is for business to business communication. It is as likely to be used in a powerpoint presentation as in a trade show, trade ad, brochure or web site. The key point is that our images help clients communicate their story more effectively and help enhance their overall image.
Dave and I recently finished a shoot for Raymond. The project included shooting in the studio (Tom) and on location in a warehouse (Dave). The project included video as well, so we had to coordinate closely with the video crew to make everything work smoothly. We had two excellent models from Productions Plus. Thanks to terrific clients, organized pre-production and teamwork, the shoot came off smoothly!
Mention to someone that you’re a professional photographer and chances are they may conjure up thoughts of you having a glamorous lifestyle, photographing beautiful models and traveling to exotic locales. And granted, there are some pros who actually live that fantasy. But for most of us, the glam jobs come only occasionally and the remainder of the year is filled with assignments that help cover the overhead, keeping the doors open until that next dream shoot comes along.
"Willow Run Facility"
I was hired this past year by a New York communications firm to shoot a project that was decidedly not glamorous by any stretch of the word. It was a three-week stint photographing the “old” General Motors bankruptcy properties throughout the state of Michigan. My job was to photograph these assets in their varied states of condition, from repopulated to vacant, from stages of demolition to vacuous parcels of land.
Although not the style of work I normally strive for, the assignment paid fairly well and there were no tight deadlines to contend with. I met several interesting people along the way, some who shared their stories with me of a lifetime of working in these factories and the deep sadness they felt in seeing them ultimately closed. I couldn’t help but think of all the workers who had once walked the floors of these plants, providing for their families and of the cycle of life that surrounds us, both in the living and in the manufactured.
From careening a three-wheeled bicycle with camera gear in tow through a darkened million square foot edifice, to being chauffeured in a golf cart through the historic Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti, we can find the silver lining in all assignments that come our way if we’re open to them. Mine came especially true knowing that I was retracing the footsteps of those workers from a generation ago who had built my father’s World War II B-24 bomber on the very floor that I now had the opportunity to stand with my camera poised.
Not a glamorous shoot, but for me, a memorable one.