Wisconsin Industrial Photographer • The Challenges Of Manufacturing Photography

For me to be happy as photographer, I need to photograph a variety of subjects in various areas of photography.  I have stretches when it seems like I do nothing but healthcare photography, and then I shift in to another area like lifestyle photography or transportation photography.  The first part of this year, I’ve done a great deal of manufacturing photography for industrial clients.  Being an industrial photographer can be tremendous challenge, but is something I greatly enjoy.  Not only do you get to learn how a lot of interesting things are made, but you’re generally working with real people in real environments.

In this stretch of being an industrial photographer, I had a variety of clients looking for a variety of end results.  I had one client that loved my highly lit and color gelled work as a casino photographer and wanted me to use those lighting skills to bring life to their manufacturing photography.  I had another client that wanted me to have a less polished and more available light look, and even one client that I had to use an intrinsically safe camera.  Prior to getting contacted for that shoot, I didn’t even know what an intrinsically safe camera was;  it’s a camera that’s safe to use in environments that are highly combustable.

Working for photography projects like this, my assistant and I try to keep the amount of gear we bring with us at a minimum so we can easily move around.  I usually stick with three zoom lenses, a 16-35, a 24-70 and 70-200.  I try to keep the lenses on the camera at all times to reduce the amount of dust and other industrial debris out of the cameras and off the sensors.  We also like to limit the amount of lights we bring with us, but that’s not always possible when dealing with dark areas with flat ugly light and high non-reflective ceilings.  With today’s digital cameras, you can shoot at a higher ISO and still have high quality photos, so many things are possible that weren’t a few years ago.  One challenge that we do run in to, but can work to our advantage, is working around welding equipment.  If you expose for the bounce of light coming off the weld you do get a nice directional light from the glow; but if you show the actual spot of the weld, it will be a blow out highlight without detail.  We general try to bring up our background (make them brighter) and add some separation from that background for our subject.  I also try to hide the brightest part of the spot of the weld to limit that bright point.  The other challenge is you can’t always look through the camera when you’re pointed at a weld, so you try to compose your shot before the welding starts and then stay steady and fire away as the welding happens to avoid looking directly at the weld point.

We also had one client that wanted us to shoot a time lapse video of the final stages of the delivery of their product.  One of the disappointing aspects of this type of photography is that I can’t always share the work due to non-disclosure agreements.  I wish I could share everything I shot, but I think the photos that I’m including in this blog post are a nice representation of the work.

Thanks for looking!


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