When the World Trade Center came down on 9/11, everything stopped. I’m sure almost everyone remembers where they were when they received the news of what happened. The bravery of the men and women who worked to rescue, rebuild, and restore after the tragedy is remarkable.
New York carries a special place in my heart. It is one of my favorite places to travel. As a photographer, I was naturally intrigued by a particular story that surfaced after the events on 9/11. Jacques Lowe (January 24, 1930 – May 21, 2001), photographer of John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign and eventually the first family’s personal photographer, lost over 40,000 negatives that were stored in JP Morgan’s vault on Ground Zero.
Photograph courtesy of the Estate of Jacques Lowe
Why was Lowe’s work stored in the JP Morgan vault? It was considered so valuable, nobody would insure it. This lead to the negatives being stored in the seemingly indestructible vault.
Photographers have served various purposes throughout time, but one purpose that remains consistent is the capturing of life. Lowe captured the life of the Kennedy family, essentially creating the legend and awe of John F. Kennedy, whose presidency marked some the most captivating times of the 20th century.
During his time with the first family, Lowe captured many intimate moments. From Robert and John F. Kennedy discussing the vice presidential nomination, to Jackie Kennedy at the seaside near their holiday home. Lowe portrayed the Kennedy’s in a light previously unknown to the world.
It’s these vulnerable and genuine moments that create the priceless value to Lowe’s work. I believe photographs leave a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. The negatives from Lowe that are still intact share a window into the personal life of John F. Kennedy and his closest friends and family.
5 Ways Industrial Photographers Can Get A Piece of Mind and Stay Safe On The Job.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Items 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!
How To Plan An Industrial Photography Photo Shoot For Your Business
Once you realize it’s time to increase the wow factor of your business the next step is to consider how to go about making it happen. That’s what this post is all about.
I’ve been doing professional industrial photography for 20 years now and I’ve developed a systematic approach to help clients get the most out of every photoshoot. Whether you are across the country or somewhere in the midwest, this guide will help you plan to get the most from our collaboration.
Where To Start?
Photographers are quite nomadic. One day I can be on set in Indianapolis and the next day I’m setting up lights in my studio but I am easy to reach and you can contact me however you’d like. Whether it’s through phone, email or social media I’ll be quick to get back to your request.
How To Start?
I understand that the scope of your project can vary in size and I am flexible enough to meet the requirements of any project type. Upon the initial contact please give me the following brief information to help me to do some background research before moving forward.
- Company name
- Location of photo shoot
- What is your company website
- The best way to reply
I’ll get back to you within 24 hours to set up a conference call or an in person meeting. In our meeting we will discuss topics from the size of your company to the amount of employees involved in the future photoshoot. I need to learn as much as possible about your company in order to gauge the type of photography that will best represent your business.
After the first meeting you will receive a quoted price and a detailed description of the project.
Lights, camera, action.
Every shoot is different but some things remain consistent and certain procedures should always be followed.
Here are ways a factory, mine or construction site should plan for the shoot
- Ensure that all employees being photographed are dressed normal without torn or grimy garments. Shirts without graphics are preferred.
- If managers are to be photographed I suggest they wear hard hats and safety glasses with their dress clothes.
- A visit to the location of the photoshoot is ideal but not mandatory.
- I ask that machinery is cleaned and for there to be no debris, oil or grease marks present.
- Touchup painting of equipment, implements and machines prior to day of shoot.
- A pre-production shoot of the locations to be photographed helps to identify what preparation needs to be done. This is an important step to every photoshoot and it saves us a lot of time and reduces error. I create a short list and production schedule that must be strictly followed. For example, I may plan on natural light for a certain scene at 2:00pm sharp. My schedule reminds me which shots to get, when and where.
That’s A Wrap.
I’m not satisfied if you’re not satisfied. Immediately following the photoshoot and onsite, I like to view the images with the client to confirm that I captured everything they need.
During my post production process I filter through all of the images and segment them into two categories; the for selection and the outtakes. Once the selections have been made I optimize them and deliver the finished product on average, within a week.
In The Case of a Re-schedule?
I don’t have a straightforward policy for cancellations or rescheduling a photoshoot. These depend on multiple factors such as bad weather, unexpected situations and late notice cancellations.
For the most part, local photoshoots within the midwest can be rescheduled rather easily. If I arrive on site and a 4-hour thunderstorm rolls in, we’ll call a rain check. On the other hand, if a plane ticket and lodging were required for the shoot, we may have to make the best of the situation to stay on budget.
For all general cancellations, please provide at least a 7 days notice.
I look forward to hear from you to take on the opportunity to capture everything your company stands for.
An ‘Infographic Interview’ with Industrial Manufacturers
Well that was fast! The annual Manufacturing Day came, saw and conquered its’ objective to help educate our society and spark the curiosity of the youth on industrial manufacturing. On October 4th, 832 manufacturing facilities across the country opened their doors in an effort to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.
Cameras and photography were prohibited during my tour of the EWI facility so I had to think of another way to visually reveal the inner workings of the companies on Manufacturing Day. I created an infographic to bring you inside Manufacturing Day that you can view below, but first lets recap the event.
EWI along with various other industrial manufacturing companies that participated in Manufacturing Day were kind enough to answer a few questions of mine. This is a good way to reflect on the success, outcome and perspective of Manufacturing Day from the business’s that eat, breath and sleep manufacturing!
What makes this holiday so unique is that just about every type of manufacturer participates.
From an aerospace products manufacturer to a leading manufacturer of bearing technology, each company provided insight into their specialty.
Isaiah Industries showcased stamping, roll forming, and powder coating operations, all of which go into creating amazing metal and steel roof top solutions. Over at EWI, we got to check out the ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation of spot welds, which can be used to test the strength of a welded or joined piece without having to break it apart. Ever wonder about machine tool spindle manufacturing, custom seal manufacturing and power transmission services. A visit to SKF Solution Factory-Cleveland would’ve showed you how it’s done!
Apart from the diversity among the companies, there is a common connection between them that can be summed up by the words of Lynn Vaughn of FC Industries.
The tours through the plant which showcase our employees doing the excellent work that they do every day while proudly showing others “how it’s made” was the highlight of Manufacturing Day for us.
I want thank the following companies for the time they spent helping me with this post and for their contribution to Manufacturing Day 2013.
- Isaiah Industries
- SKF Solution Factory
- FC Industries INC.
Did you get the opportunity to pay a visit to a company of your choice on Manufacturing Day or did you open up your doors for tours? I’d like to hear about your experience in the comments below.
Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty: How To Educate and Influence The Youth To Pursue Hands-On & Well-Paid Manufacturing Jobs
During my childhood I spent time on the big rig machines with my father, laid hands on my first camera at the age of 9 and opened up my very own toolbox shortly after. The “Do It Yourself” mentality was an actual lifestyle rather than just a tagline for Home Depot.
Today, kids spend more time with smart phones in their hands playing angry birds than they do building treehouses. Unfortunately I don’t have much research to back up this ‘generalization’, however:
In the last 25 years, schools have eliminated all their shop courses. Where would our kids learn manual skills? When was the last time you met a kid who built a treehouse? That’s where all these skills start. You build something or fix a bike, then you fix a car or build a boat.”
The Problem Is The Perception of Industrial Manufacturing Jobs
Western Civilization is based on one’s ability to put a nut and bolt together but manufacturing is just not “sexy” anymore. A 2009 research of American teens revealed that more than half had little or no interest in a manufacturing career. Another 21 percent were ambivalent. Here’s a snapshot of the point of view shared by the youth and their parents:
- It’s a failure if you don’t send your kids to college
- If you don’t study you will end up working in a factory
Industrial manufacturing is the backbone of American society and the last thing we want to do is cut shop courses from study curriculums and engrain the belief that these types of jobs are not worthy.
It is not in the interest of the industrial manufacturing society to convince our youth not to pursue higher education in order to increase the labor force for our factories, steel mills and power plants. Actually, the ultimate goal is to shine light on the opportunity of such a career in this field and to do so through teaching, workshops and revealing the truth.
The overall trend is that factories are having trouble finding electricians and other skilled trades people without a steady influx of young people.
Craig McAtee, interim vice president of advanced manufacturing at Cuyahoga Community College remarks on the specifics of the jobs:
These jobs aren’t the semi-skilled positions that fled the U.S. for China or Mexico over the past couple decades, but are what I call “gold collar” jobs, where workers use computerized machines and welding torches that require deft touches. And they can pay $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
How did the fast food chains of the nation stand up against the criticism they received for their contribution to high obesity rates? They added yogurts and salads to the menu as an alternative to the greasy burgers.
Likewise, industrial manufacturing needs to direct our youths attention to the benefits these jobs offer and the type of work they include.
A major player in shaping the future of industrial manufacturing is John Ratzenberger, the Co-founder of Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs.
The mission of the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs foundation is to engage, nurture and excite individuals of all ages to pursue careers in manufacturing.
Kids can attend summer camps and earn scholarships to programs like the Introduction to Manufacturing Concepts through electric guitar building or GADgET (Girls Adventuring in Design, Engineering & Technology).
There is a factory behind every business and hard working people behind every machine and piece of equipment.
As an industrial photographer, my favorite piece of equipment so happens to be a camera that I use to create visual images designed to educate, communicate and sell. Whether you’re in need of an all inclusive photo shoot of a factory or want to partner up to help raise awareness of and influence the future of industrial manufacturing, please contact me.
While we’re on the topic, I will be visiting EWI in Columbus, Ohio for the newly celebrated and most anticipated holiday, Manufacturing Day on October 4th 2013. EWI specializes in aerospace, automotive, government/defense, heavy manufacturing, consumer products and light industrial energy. As of today there are 454 events planned for which companies and factory facilities will open their doors for different types of tours with the purpose to expand knowledge about and improve general public perception of manufacturing careers and manufacturing’s value to the U.S. economy.
Re-Shoring Manufacturing For American Companies Now Has A Bigger Appeal Than Ever
Call it re-stabilizing, re-balancing or simply re-shoring. It is the concept of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and companies are pleased with the outcome of doing so. For the nation, re-shoring brings back desirable jobs that have been lost to decades of off shoring. Businesses that have turned to countries for cheap labor have realized that labor isn’t the only thing they are paying for and that doing business overseas is more trouble than it’s worth.
First off, average wages in China have jumped 10 percent to 25 percent a year, hitting $4 to $6 an hour in some plants. Add in shipping and high fuel costs, and off shore manufacturing is no longer such a bargain.
Take for example the Minnesota company, Calibur11 that brought back the manufacturing of its’ gaming console protection kits to American soil because of the hassle they had dealing with China. Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said, “when you are dealing across the ocean, there are logistical issues and language issues and it’s not perfect overseas”. There are many reasons to bring manufacturing back to the states and one of the biggest supporters of the concept is Harry Moser, the founder of the “Re-shoring Initiative”.
The mission of the Re-shoring Initiative is to bring good, well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the United States by assisting companies to more accurately assess their total cost of offshoring, and shift collective thinking from ‘offshoring is cheaper’ to ‘local reduces the total cost of ownership.’
Some companies have never outsourced their manufacturing to other countries and they have their reasons for doing so. The upholstered furniture company Southern Motion didn’t see the cost reduction opportunities that a lot of companies thought they’d have going overseas. The furniture industry tends to import pre-made fabric kits but Southern Motion stitches everything in house. Leather and fabric kits need to be inspected and genuinely cared for and there are some parts of the kit that cannot be used. CEO of Southern Motion said relying on his own workers ensures quality of the product and allows flexibility that otherwise can’t be found by relying on work done offshore. Read more: djournal.com – ‘Reshoring’ could boost US manufacturing
So many companies focus on rudimentary costs, not the whole cost, which can add 20 to 30 percent,” said Moser. You may have improved margin by offshoring but your quality may have worsened and your overhead costs may be higher.
Follow Harry Moser on Twitter and support the re-shoring initiative while I leave you with his top reasons on how re-shoring benefits the companies in our nation and the nation as a whole.
- Brings jobs back to the U.S.
- Helps balance U.S., state and local budgets
- Motivates recruits to enter the skilled manufacturing workforce
- Strengthens the defense industrial base
- Strengthens companies’ ability to respond quickly to customers’ demands
- Improves quality and consistency of inputs
- Eliminates the waste and instability caused by offshoring