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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.


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Manufacturing Day 2013: Behind The Scenes & Inside The Machines

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.

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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.

  • EWI
  • 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.

Manufacturing Day Infographic

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.”

Light-box imaging industrial photography

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.

The Solution

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. 

 

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.

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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.

4 Reasons Customized Industrial Photography Is More Powerful Than Stock

UNIQUE INDUSTRIAL PHOTOGRAPHY IS MORE POWERFUL THAN STOCK

Professional photography has rapidly progressed since the days of dark room development. New technology has enhanced the overall process and changed the way photographers do business. The combined force of digital photography with the Internet has increased the presence of stock photography agencies but stock photos are more likely to weaken your brand than strengthen it. The best way to communicate the unique qualities of your business is with powerful images that grab attention and stand out from the rest.

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In your house, you want to frame a picture of your children, not the picture of the children the frame came with. Marketing your company with unique images is a good way to personalize your message, humanize your brand and connect with your audience.

Here are  4 main reasons to use customized industrial photography over stock images to make a bigger impact on your audience

  1. Today’s marketplace is extremely competitive and overloaded with images. When you choose a stock image you run the risk of using the same picture that your competitor has chosen. How does this separate you from your competition?
  2. Professional photographers aim to portray the most real life aspects of your business. Rather than choosing a picture of a model that is striking a pose that’s been done a thousand times, a photographer will understand your vision and bring the uniqueness of your company to life.
  3. Stock photography isn’t made specifically for your product but for a very large category of products. They try to reach a bigger number of buyers, but these images are not unique or custom made for your product and service. Pictures make the first impression so it’s best to expose the true character and soul of your company on your website and marketing materials.
  4. The emergence of online social communities has paved a path toward honest and open dialogue between brands and their audience. Websites such as Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have turned us into a visual society. For example, 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each day. How does this effect your business? People are over exposed to pictures like never before and this raises the bar to produce images that stick in the viewer’s mind. You must embrace professional visual literacy and break through the picture clutter with powerful and vivid images.

Stock photography is generic are far from one-of-a-kind.

How many times have you left your dentist office with a free tooth brush and a tri-fold brochure covered with a bright sparkling smile? The market is saturated with these inexpensive images and they lose their significance every time they are published. The effective way to engage your clients is by showcasing the face of your company to reveal the truth. Use photos of your offices, employees and your services in action. Clients love to recognize people because it gives the sense of reality.

Photography is meant to tell something real about people and businesses, it’s not an industrial product. Indeed stock photography might seam appealing to small businesses because it’s cheap but it’s never powerful.

Your product is unique and your photographs must reflect what your brand represents. Next time your marketing efforts face a tight budget and are strapped for time you may find yourself browsing stock images and become intrigued by the quality and quantity. It is a deceiving platform because although you may find that perfect photo you had in mind, you run the risk of shrinking your brand image.

Photographs translate the technical language of your engineering and marketing team by producing powerful visual images designed to educate, communicate and expand your brand in every online and offline channel.

How Technology Has Changed The Business Of Industrial Photography

THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY ON PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

In 1827 the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce introduced photography to the world. Photography has evolved from a science experiment to a fast paced digital platform. Starting with silver nitrate, copper and other chemicals, the process of developing photographs was much more complex than that of today’s digital routine of memory sticks and laptops. Don’t get me wrong. This profession is packed full of digital tasks challenging me to produce powerful industrial images for my clients and digital photography allows me to expand my services into 3D rendering and photo re-touching.

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The notable aspect of the technological influence on photography is how it is changing the profession. The demand for high quality professional photographs is diminishing, technology is shifting the way people perceive photography and technology has made digital photography more accessible. Every skilled and dedicated photographer knows the most expensive camera does not replace the value of professional experience or a pair of trained eyes.

Technology doesn’t create professionals

Take for example this comment from Barry Hayes, a 35 year old pro photographer in Vermont:

“We all started as amateurs. But some of us developed our craft and improved our art. And while technology may produce a camera that can make a technically perfect exposure, it cannot yet produce an artistically satisfying image or revealing portrait without the eye and mind of a skilled professional.”

Acquiring new business for professional photographers is more of a challenge than ever in the digital age. Businesses have adopted a “Do it yourself attitude” because it’s easy to access digital cameras and professional photographers are competing with point-and-shoot and smartphone cameras. Now is the time to show clients the potential in hiring a professional photographer. Professionalism extends beyond the images I create and leads into the fine details I put into every project. Professional photographers are those that put effort into bringing out the best of your company brand and push the envelope for every project. You hire a pro to visually connect your company and service to your audience.

Digital photography has become more widely accessible and improvements in technology are lowering costs of digital gear. As digital photography grows and taking pictures becomes a part of everyone’s life, the need for professional gate-keepers has vanished. I don’t fear the idea that everyone can have a digital camera. This is pushing the limits and keeping me accountable to deliver better work and bringing a new energy to the field.

Here is a snap shot of the widespread digital camera growth:

  • From 2005 to 2009, the use of camera phones in the United States grew from 41 billion to 141 billion
  • In 2000, the percentage of U.S households with at least one digital camera was 10%. This grew to 68% in 2008. In 2012 the percentage of U.S households with digital cameras was 84%.

With every evolving industry there comes new opportunities to expand your services and talents.  Many companies are beginning to use video to connect with their audience on an emotional level and the demand for video is growing. Creating the perfect scene to highlight the best aspects of your business is one of the most challenging parts of my job and video allows me capture high quality HD footage to pair with your company vision. As an industrial photographer it’s exciting to know that industrial activity was first depicted in photographs at the beginning of the 1850’s. These powerful industrial images have captured generations of progress and innovation spanning over 160 years but the professionals taking these pictures are now experiencing the change that comes with such progress. Professional photography is not dying, it is just evolving and I will remain persistent by not letting my ability to “capture” overshadow my passion to “create”.

The Law Of Reflection In Industrial Photography

HOW TO PRODUCE POWERFUL INDUSTRIAL IMAGES WITH THE PERFECT LIGHT

Robotic arm at work in an aluminum foundry in Detroit

As an industrial photographer every project comes with many challenges to apply the perfect light to my subjects. Machines come in all shapes and sizes, factories are spacious and the lighting is not the most suitable for capturing professional pictures. It’s important to research your shoot location and prepare for the type of light in the facility to know the appropriate lighting equipment to bring. The law of light and reflection that apply to studio work are the same when your on set but you have to use certain techniques and utilize the environment in different ways.

Compared to shooting delicious plates of food and suited up executives, foundries and factories are not controlled environments and industrial photographers must work with the scene in its’ natural state. I have been exposed to a variety of industrial settings. From squeaky clean and sanitized laboratories to dirty mechanical factories safety gear is almost always required. As you approach your subjects and move about the area you must be cautious of moving equipment and employees at work. Eye protection is mandatory for the macro shots of electric equipment, sparks or liquids.

Here are 2 photos I took in a small foundry in western Ohio to show you the importance of eye protection and safety. I observe the area to get an idea of the shots I want then have to clean up and arrange elements to create the perfect scene. I always like to capture the action of the scene when I’m shooting people. 

The most common materials in factories just happen to be the hardest to photograph; pipes, gears, lathes, giant drill bits, valves and the list of metal and steel objects goes on. When your client requests a product shot that highlights their logo, you better reduce the glare and create evenly distributed light. These objects reflect everything.

SHOOTING REFLECTIVE OBJECTS

 “The law of reflection means that the angel of incidence equals the angle of direction. The angel that the light reflects the surface of the object equals the angel of the light being casted on the object.”

Taken in an aluminum Foundry in Detroit

This law certainly applies to shooting sparkling kitchen appliances like silverware and china. You need to focus on the light that is reflected off of the object and create the reflection you see in the object. It’s easier to control the reflection in a studio environment vs. being on set at the factory. Machines are much larger than forks and knives and more difficult to situate. Only Hulk can rotate 2,000 pounds of steel and arrange the perfect shot but his assistance isn’t always available…

Photographing shiny objects is an experimentation process. Try repositioning yourself around the object and test out different angles to get the shadows and light just right. Now that you know the science behind light reflection, here is a list of techniques to reduce glare and shadows on shiny industrial equipment while exposing the ambient natural colors and tone.

  • Set up your lights so they do not reflect any light on the object
  • If I have to use on camera flash I use a diffuser to soften the light on the object. I try to avoid this because natural directional light gives a a more realistic tone to the image.
  • I use a light tent in the areas where light is heavily distributed
  • Longer exposure is required when using indoor natural light so a tripod will be required

You need to avoid reflection in your photographs when the lighting is not suitable to capture the effect of shimmer and shine. On the other hand use reflection to bring out the best in your photos and brighten up your subjects.

Remember the light is not always in your control in large industrial settings and glare might show up even after you follow the above techniques. Here is guide for photoshop to eliminate glare and shadow that could not be avoided on the shoot.  

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