As a professional photographer for twenty years, I have noticed a lack of creativity in the industrial photography market. It seems that many industrial images are simply “grab-and-go” style shots or more like “push the button” photography. Photographers are photographing what is there and moving on. It seems as if little thought is given to planning, lighting, and staging scenarios as a professional photographer would in commercial or advertising photography.
You can find some industrial photography photographed in a documentary style that is extraordinary; however, those images are few and far between. kp studios has developed a unique technique in photographing industrial projects and we would like to share some of our techniques with fellow photographers to help them enhance their industrial photography skills.
We personally find the industrial market to be fascinating and see many unique opportunities to create super cool images. By planning the scene, decluttering the background, and adding dynamic colored lighting to the industrial environment you can add flair and interest to your industrial photography.
The perfect recipe for creating fantastic industrial photography
Our industrial photography images illustrate how colored lighting and sufficient pre-production create the perfect recipe for creating fantastic industrial images.
First, it is essential to scout the facility to gain comprehensive knowledge of the shop and understand how to best feature your clients’ machines and processes. Also, having a conversation with the owner or head of marketing will help you understand the client’s industrial photography goals, how the images will be used, and help you determine what images need to be created.
Once you understand the goals for the industrial project, you can dive deeper into each process and find an interesting angle. We like to see the machine operator turn on the machine prior to taking pictures. This allows us to find the best angles while improving the safety of our crew.
Second, we set our Benro XTM48CXL tripod with our Sirui KK Serie ball head. I particularly love the Benro tripod because it’s one of the tallest tripods on market, reaching 80”. It features a carbon fiber frame that makes it super light for traveling. The Suri Ball head is easy to maneuver like a joystick and allows easy positioning for dynamic angles. We find these two tools combined give us more control allowing for more creative images. Shooting on a tripod allows you to change one variable at a time to help build the best shot possible. Once we have found the angle, we look at the background. What needs to move out of the way? The camera on a tripod lets the photographer see precisely what will show in the frame. This shows us what distracting objects need to be removed from the scene and where lighting needs to be enhanced. Often, there are many heavy items in a machine shop, and it can be a challenge to get specific items moved, so it’s crucial to direct the shots accurately and avoid moving unnecessary objects.
Third, the lighting is critical. Once we have cleared the background, we set the lighting. We use Profoto B10s and B10 plus in our industrial photography. We prefer Profoto strobe lighting because their ease of use, battery-powered operation, and high power output make the Profoto strobe lights the perfect fit for industrial photography. As the photographer, you need to move quickly around a busy environment without worrying about power, cords, or creating hazards in the facility.
Colored lighting adds creativity to your industrial photography
Profoto lights have incredible gels and adapters that make working with colored light a breeze. We choose the gel colors based on the machine color. You can buy a variety of gels on amazon. We simply cut them to fit our gel adapter, and voilà, you have an excellent creative tool at your disposal.
For example, if the object we are photographing is blue, we might add a blue gel to the light on the object to help enhance its natural color.. Next, we will light the subject with a neutral color, and finally, we light the background in a complementary color. Sometimes you just have to play with the colors and see what you like. It’s important to remember that we shoot tethered, allowing us to make creative decisions on the spot. We can see the large image on our computer screen. This allows us to see incredible detail in the shot, which is essential to making creative decisions that allow us to create high-quality photography for our clients.
It’s also important to remember the three key factors in composing any photograph – foreground, middle ground, and background. This recipe greatly improves your photo composition. First, it’s essential to ensure you have something happening in each plane of your photograph. This could mean moving an item super close to the lens to create a foreground blur, pushing more focus to your middle ground, where the action is taking place. Then, remember to make sure your background is not full of clutter. Following these simple steps is key to building a successful shot!
We hope these tips and tricks help our fellow photographers create better images. We encourage you to give it shot and see what you create using these techniques at your next industrial photoshoot. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are happy to help!
Kristie Pickett (aka KP) LaRochelle
As a commercial photographer from Birmingham, Alabama, Kristie P. LaRochelle specialized in industrial and advertising photography. She has a passion for her work. A natural-born people-pleaser with high energy and incredible instincts that help her create the most compelling imagery. Her team gives 110% to every client by building a personal connection with them. They will not stop until world-class commercial photography perfect for your brand has been created. Her superpower is her team’s ability to see the vision through your perspective and create a fun and exciting environment essential to bringing your imagery to life.