Industrial photography is a term that can broadly be classified into the following categories:
- Etc. etc.
Each of the above is subdivided further into various categories. One needs to understand, that all industries are unique in nature and pose unique challenges that are to be understood and dealt with effectively, in order to be successful.
It requires years of first hand experience to master this most challenging area of photography.
The stalwart of Indian Industrial Photography “Mitter Bedi” was responsible for creating awareness amongst industrialists and photographers about the specialization in this field. He stood head and shoulders above the rest in his days when Industrial photography was in its infancy and little known in the Indian subcontinent.
This field is so challenging and daunting, that most photographers of today shy away from it. There are very few photographers who are still pursuing this field with zeal and enthusiasm.
Objectives of Industrial photography
Industrial photography is used for various purposes and one needs to understand the application of these photographs before starting the assignment.
The photographs can be used for the following
Let me take you through each of the above
Most company’s use photos in their website for global marketing and one needs thorough understanding of norms followed by similar industries. For example, when I am shooting for JCB India, I have to follow the norms and styles of photography that are dictated by the central head of design based in UK. The company has a global presence and photos appearing in all their sites have to have a common feel.
Company brochures are used for mailing and trade fairs where many competing and associated and ancillary industries take part on common premises. Here the objective is to present the visitors with an overview of the company, its products, strengths in manufacturing processes, infrastructure and location.
Usually there are two types of brochures at their stalls. One is a comprehensive brochure reserved for serious enquiries and the other is in the form of leaflets for general visitors
As the name suggests, it is a catalogue of various products that the company manufactures and these are displayed along with details of the products. The photographs of all products should have a common background, lighting character and angle. This brings a visual appeal when put together on a single page.
Photography for company profile is a detailed representation of its activity in manufacturing process, from purchase of raw material to final product. Each activity, divisions along with internal and exterior views are photographed for a detailed description of the company’s profile.
Here again, if the company has a national or global presence, care should be taken to follow the norms of design sense while executing the photographs.
User manuals the term suggests, is a step by step photographic explanation of the various controls and how to use information. The photographs should be shot with clarity in a way that the viewer understands the location & orientation of the controls. Close ups should be supported with bigger areas of the same to give the customer / user a proper location that is being explained for operation.
Presentation photographs can be used for clients or internal heads of the company.
Here the images are usually accompanied by charts and graphs for performance evaluation. The images need to be smaller in size (megapixels) but big in quality. I suggest to shoot on serious gear and later resize to a smaller size. Many times the photographer may prefer to shoot on 35mm for purpose of ease, but there he looses the detailing and dynamic range offered by professional camera and digital backs.
Every industry has a step by step process for manufacturing. Each process involves sub processes.
The objective here is to have a proper flow. While covering different stages on the assembly line external lighting may change and lend a different character to the images from the first location to the current location. In such situations, you have to time and plan the shoot in advance, come back the next day if required.
Understanding industrial photography
Industrial photography starts with understanding the industry, machinery used for manufacturing, its processes and various stages in detail.
Understanding will help you compose and choose the right viewpoint of the camera angle. Certain times you may be required to take the help of elevated Platforms or the use of forklifts with platforms to gain a proper viewpoint.
Challenges you may face:
- Physically very challenging.
- Extreme conditions (heat & noise).
- Dusty conditions.
- Poor or improper illumination of different color temperatures.
- Lots of backlighting at times.
- Shift times.
- Uncooperative operators and workers
- Conditions and situations not in your control.
- Poor cleanliness, dirty machines, unwanted and disorganized bins or material.
- Be a victim between the management and workers.
Trust me, all the above difficulties are surmountable and have solutions. Solutions that you find with years of experience. Many times the temptation to accept the assignment for want of revenue may lead to a unprofessional job. This could seal your fate with the client and create a bad reputation.
When in doubt, always take help from a colleague who is willing to share the skills.