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The Industrial Photography Safety Guide

Industrial Photography

5 Ways Industrial Photographers Can Get A Piece of Mind and Stay Safe On The Job.

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Don’t be scared?

Scared about what?

Standing at what seems like a few yards from a 300 tonne ladle full of scalding hot molten steel with $4,000 worth of camera gear strapped around your waist?

Or

Reading a safety guide about industrial photography for which you already know all the answers to?

Both, you may have replied.

Even though the first option is much more frightening, this safety guide is everything but boring. It’s more of snap shot of my personal experience working for industrial clients in some of the most insecure and dangerous environments.

As you know, the best pictures are those that capture life in the most realistic way possible. Spontaneous but planned. Candid but professional. I have my opinions on stock photography but that’s another story.

Utilitylight

Pre Plot Your Exit Route

Believe it or not, the way you entered may not be the best way to exit in the case of an emergency, especially during facility operations. Many industrial facilities are obliged by law to implement safety exits and you need to know them.

  • Prior to your shoot, walk the facility with the plant manager to cover all ground for safety.
  • Although safety exit signs are lit up and salient, they may be hard to spot if they are hidden behind machinery or out of power.
  • Confirm with the plant manager that all exits are safe and secure.

You don’t need to have a fire drill, but when danger strikes, follow the lead of the workers!

Dress Accordingly

You’ve already made your professional impression at the pre production meeting but the work zone is no place for fashion, unless your taste in fashion is hard hats and steel toe boots.

I have my own hard hat and keep it on me for all industrial photography shoots but safety gear that is required by facilities must be provided for visitors. Grab a hat that has a small front brim and fastens tightly on your head to prevent obstructing your view and moving while you kneel and crouch.

I always wear a bright yellow shirt to make it easy for workers to spot me; “Caution, photographer on site, but lets pretend I’m not here!”

Steel toed boots. Strap em’ on, double tie the laces and tuck them inside the boots.

MilesLumber

Pack Only What You Need

Once I flew to Louisiana for a shoot and had two checked bags full of gear and my carry on with my essential gear. (I’ve lost my bags a few times and recommend to keep your essentials by your side). I arrived on the jobsite and decided I only needed my carry on kit! The lesson to be learned is to always bring the whole kitchen sink to the job site and only use what you need. I need to be light on my feet.

For a peace of mind the next time you need to check bags full of expensive photography gear, place some kids stickers on the luggage and make it look as cheap as possible. 

Know The Work Schedule of Your Environment

Typical operations of complex industrial facilities can include anything from gigantic equipment installations to normal day-to-day routines but when I’m hired to shoot specific operations like the installation of a new machine or the progress of a renovation project, the risk of danger is much higher.

Getting into the middle of ongoing operations can be extremely hazardous to your health — there is moving equipment that can easily crush people to death, potential chemical exposure, extremely high pressure, swinging crane loads, and so forth.

Once on a shoot at a sawmill I positioned myself four or five feet from a conveyor belt not realizing my shin was in front of an air pressure release valve. It released and startled me half to death but I carried on unharmed.

The industrial world follows strict maintenance schedules at precise times. You need to know where you can be at what time and for how long. Take a wind turbine field for example. I may climb the ladder of one turbine to capture an aerial view with a wide lens. In this situation, it’s good to know that turbines are programmed to begin generating electricity when the hub-height weight reaches 8 miles per hour and it’s better to know exactly where to read the wind speed.

InstalingSawBlade

Protect Your Gear!

My number one rule about my gear at industrial photo shoots is to not change lenses. Even though there may be a ventilation system in place, debris and dust are everywhere and I’d rather not take the risk of damaging my sensor.

If I have to change my lens I use a light tight film changing bag I still have from my large format film days.

WeldingItems and parts may appear harmless but they can be hot or toxic. there maybe Infrared / Ultraviolet Hazards. Catwalks and stairs can be uneven and I always check handrails for stability and avoid leaning on them. Always keep your gear as close to you as possible.

As an industrial photography there are no limits to what I can capture and my favorite part is learning about new and emerging industries. I’m looking forward to attend the Ohio Valley Regional Oil & Gas Expo at the end of April where I will be one of many guests eager to discover new opportunities for America’s energy independence.

Curious to what’s going on at this expo? Check out the video below!

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What I learned At The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show in Dayton, Ohio

3 Concepts To Improve Your Industrial Manufacturing Strategy

In October, I strolled through the annual Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show in Dayton. Each time I visit here I am reassured that the future of industrial manufacturing is bright. It remains the Ohio hub for manufacturers, suppliers and shippers. Furthermore, the Dayton area has led to many technological innovations. It’s no surprise that the AMTS is hosted in this region over 30,000 square feet of exhibition space showcasing the latest products and technologies shaping the future of manufacturing.

#industrialphotographyInstagram

Good photography shows the product in its best light

This is the reoccurring theme that stands out to me each time I visit an industrial manufacturing trade show. The AMTS was no different. The theme revolves around the idea that the images you choose to showcase your new products make a gigantic impact on the reputation, initial response and overall company image you work so hard at perfecting.

Whether your business is developing new machines and technology or expanding its factory to maximize production, it’s vital to showcase these ‘upgrades’ in a way that adds value to your company. As you develop new technology you must showcase it in the best way possible.

Technology photography  plays an important role to connect the buyer to supplier and vice versa. The real machines may not always be available but powerful industrial images allow industry professionals to gain a better understanding of equipment, faster.

Excuse my bias as an industrial photographer but it’s true

I believe mediocre images tend to make a company look like they are small and that they don’t care about their image. There is nothing wrong with a small company by any means. In fact they’ve been the foundation for many aspects of innovation since our industrial revolution.

On the other hand, notice I mentioned “Don’t care about their image”. If you let your image wither down how can you expect anything to grow. Especially given the fact that your business photography is most commonly the first impression you give off when obtaining new business. There was a lot of nice photography at the AMTS but I was surprised to see many companies with subpar images.

Industrial photography techniques for the low budget

Updating your database of high quality product photos may not be the most economical decision at this point and time in the year. With that said, there are various others methods to get the most out of your current photography arsenal.

1.         Pictures are powerful for SEO: Check out my recent post about the usage of pictures in industrial marketing to dive deeper into the concept but for starters you must correctly tag your photos with the most information as possible.

  • Use ALT text to describe your product. Search engines find your photos by searching the text, not the image. ALT text is the primary text that Google uses to identify images in search results. ALT texts are usually the product name, i.e. 30 ft. horizontal car loading vacuum furnace, or Model MP1200 Melt Indexer.

2.      Take advantage of free and powerful social photography tools: You may be timid to implement a social media tool such as Instagram into your industrial marketing strategy but believe or not, this platform can help you immensely. For your next trade show, call on the employee with the best eye to take snapshots of your new technology and equipment. These product photos can be tagged in Instagram and be shared within your community of followers. In the meantime feel free to follow me for a dose of industrial photos each week. What you see is what you get!

Industrial equipment is large, complex and shiny. Whenever I’m taking photos of technology in action or in my studio I replay the single most important part of picture taking:

The word photography comes from two ancient Greek words: photo, for “light,” and graph, for “drawing.” “Drawing with light”.

Good  photography  combines texture, tone and shadow with dimensional character. This is different with every subject. Through experience I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and I’m always looking for new ways to light different subjects. The biggest NO NO is on camera flash. Subjects should be lit with directional light. Photos taken with on camera flash tend to look flat and absent of mood and character. This is also known as ‘unnatural’ and most often, the background will be dark.

Good Industrial photography translates the technical language of your engineering and marketing team by producing powerful visual images designed to educate, communicate, and sell.



Boost Your Online Industrial Marketing with Optimized Product Photos

The goal of industrial marketing is to bring your products and services to the people who need them and this has become a bigger challenge in the digital world of endless information. When you boost your products and company with search engine optimized content, you will be more successful at connecting with your consumers.

Industrial-Product-photography

Organization and consistency are key elements for establishing and maintaining an effective online presence. Search engines want to connect their searchers to the most relevant content so your online strategy must be based on quality content tailored for people, not robots and spiders. In other words, “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines”.

There are simple ways to implement SEO into every channel from social media platforms to the photographs you choose to showcase your company and products.

Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Pictures For SEO

Pictures are nothing but a bunch of pixels and after all this is what Google thinks of them too.

In order to bring the pixels to life on search engines, you need to follow these simple steps. To get the most out of your product photography each image should be appropriately named, sized and described. This works wonders for industrial companies that offer online product catalogs.

  • Use ALT text to describe your product. Search engines find your photos by searching the text, not the image. ALT text is the primary text that Google uses to identify images in search results. ALT texts are usually the product name, i.e. 30 ft. horizontal car loading vacuum furnace, or Model MP1200 Melt Indexer.
  • Use Title Tags to provide additional information to the visitor. This is the text displayed when a cursor hovers over the image.
  • Adjust image file size. No one likes to wait for photos to load and page load time effects SEO rankings. To preserve the quality of your image and to ensure quick loading, use the free Image Optimizer tool. This will enable your photos to shine across all browsers and mobile devices.
  • Add a File Name. Pick a descriptive name for your photo and I recommend including a link to your online catalog. You want to choose a file name that you want the image to rank for. Look at these search results as an example to see how the top results are linked to a site.
  • All of your line items should have an accompanying image with them. The more pictures you have of your products, the higher ranking your catalog will be.

Over the years  I have seen industrial manufacturing photography change from a basic professional service into a digital powerhouse that can bring any industry to life on the web. Search engines are a great tool to help consumers find what they need and they work together with social media to connect your brand to your audience.