Over the past several years I have handeled several industrial shoots including some of the big names like Hero Honda, carrier, SRF, Jindal stainless, JCBL, winsome, best food rice
One of my first experiences of shooting an industrial plant was that of a milk plant somewhere in Punjab close to chadnigarh soon after I finished off from college. I managed the whole shoot all alone which involved shooting quite a few huge stainless steel equipment as well as some outdoor shots. Outdoor was simpler, although I remember some light accidentally entering my camera or probably something like that happened at the lab. When the roll was processed and developed there were some “orange” patches across some of the frames. Inside my most reliable piece of equipment was my tripod and the basic old time round tungsten studio lights with a few gateway sheets. However, I got some very good shots at least by my standards at that time.
The more recent shoot was that for Jindal Stainless. The client wanted to archive all “corners” of the two plants at hissar….
Some of the points you should be careful of while on an industrial shoot. If you are not adequately and appropriately equipped, do not venture out for an industrial shoot. There may be situations where to include the extremes of a huge machine you may need an equally extreme wide angle. On the other hand, to shoot a close up of an ultra-high-temperature furnace you may need a long lens. Going closer is just not possible. And also quite dangerous for the lens glass as it may not have been tested to withstand such high temperature. Whenever you move from a high-temperature area to another with a huge variation in temperature, do not move out with the camera hanging on your neck. Rather pack it in the camera bag and then shift. Also move slowly away from one temperature zone to another so as not to cause any damage to the lens glass.
One needs to walk a lot, so always wear comfortable shoes. Shoes are also important as in many plants you are not allowed to enter in slippers or sandals due to safety reasons. Most of the industrial shoots somehow happen in hot summers and you are not privileged enough to wear shorts as in many plants you are not allowed to enter unless you are wearing trousers. The idea is probably because there are so many hazardous elements around which may be extremely hot and if you accidentally touch them can burn up your skin. Also, you have to watch your step as you move around. There may be wide gaps in the floor (steel structures), hot elements may be stacked around which may topple if you touch them or move carelessly around on wooden planks these are kept on, keep an eye on moving cranes, many places would have very slippery floors due to oil and grease.
For electricity plug points always check out with the local electrician or concerned person before plugging in. The voltage for photography equipment should be 220-30 volts or as specified but many of the industrial equipment runs on 440volts. So be sure.
Carry enough extension switchboards with at least one or two with a very long wire so that if you do not have a suitable power supply around you may get it from the nearest location elsewhere.
Check out with the authorities as you set up your shots. Certain industries may want to include their women employees/workers along with the male counterparts to convey that they are constantly working towards upliftment of women and do not discriminate between men and women in their work force. On the other hand Interestingly women are not officially allowed to work in certain areas of food industry due to “hygienic reasons”
Although you will see them working but can't be officially shown. Children are not allowed in any industry. So far I have not come across any industry breaking the law.
Although it is the responsibility of the authorities to notice such things but it helps to add your contribution as well in making the photograph usable in the end, unless you are not aware. So, it’s important to keep the concerned person responsible for the shoot well informed about your frame and what all is being included in it.
Certain industries may not allow rings, earrings, sweaters etc. hospitals-
I shot an operation theatre long time back. Since none of the doctors were available to pose for us, we were asked to handle things by ourselves and the printer handling the assignment was asked to be the doctor!! The rest of the team was original except the doctor! When the pictures went to the client, the hospital, they had no option but to pay me again for a reshoot ! because doctors do not wear sweaters while in the operation theatre and our “doctor’s” sweater was showing under the white coat. And there was no photoshop in those days to get rid of the sweater.
MRI machines have strong magnetic fields and you can't take any metallic equipment closer to the machine or even inside the room, so I had set up my tripod just around the doorway to shoot my frame with a man inside the machine. While we were setting up the shot, trying to figure out where to position the lights to best illuminate the shot, I suggested the MRI staff that maybe we could switch off the equipment and take the shot. But according to him it was not a good idea as it would take a long time to set the machine back in form once switched off and there was a long Que outside waiting for an MRI to be done. But isn’t the radiation harmful to the poor guy in the scanning machine? We are taking so long to set it up!! I was amazed to know that probably the guy did not need the test at all!! Just to cover up the equipment costs more and more patients are advised the test although they don’t need it !!!
On another occasion, I was asked to shoot an open heart surgery as it was actually going on. They suggested that I better watch the operation on the television in another room as the more critical part of the operation goes on. The idea was also to make sure that I don’t get disturbed by the sight of blood and the surgery. This TV camera was fitted in the operation theatre light so could see exactly what the surgeon was seeing. After a while, wearing the operation theatre outfits and masks me and my assistant entered the OT.
We both had to be extremely careful as to not trip over any wires. We were extra careful with our movements as any wrong move on our part may probably stop the heart and lung machine!!! I decided to do most of the shots with the external flash on camera as my conscience did not allow me to have a more elaborate shoot although we could have had the studio lights set up inside. Everybody including the nurses and the ward boys and of course the doctor himself seemed to be more interested in the camera than anything else. To me maybe it seemed, my presence there was not letting them pay the undivided attention to the patient who was in his late 70s. But probably for them the surgery was routine and it was just another student. As I would take a shot, the nurses behind the doctor would just lean inward, making sure that they are included as well. Suddenly everyone wanted to be around and nearest to the doctor, one place where they would be sure that they are a part of the photograph…..I was not really affected by the site of blood or anything but I wanted to be out of the theatre at the earliest as was not feeling very comfortable that because of me probably there could be a risk for the patient. On the other hand I was feeling that if a good photographer will not get affected by any sort of disturbances during a shoot and will still be able to concentrate on the shoot, a good doctor might as well…….but then surgery and shoot are two different things all together.
In interiors and industrial photography- to show the hugeness of the size is very important. Technically that means- an extreme wide angle is indispensable. This is where a full frame digital camera is most desirable.
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