Tips for Shooting Industrial Portraits That Sell

Industrial portraits typically involve the most precious assets of a business—its workforce. These are the people who carry a business on their shoulders as they move the heavy machinery and keep the gears rolling. When a photographer is assigned to shoot industrial portraits, it’s important that they make the workplace and the staff look good. After all, these are not your average portraits. These images invariably find their way on an annual report, a company magazine, or are used for branding purposes. Jay P. Morgan gives some tips to get the most out of industrial portraits:

Use Color

Factories can look drab, colorless, and uninviting. It’s the responsibility of the photographer to turn the place into something interesting. Adding a dash of color is probably the logical first step, and what better way to achieve it than using colored gels?

CTO gels for portraits

Use colored CTO gels to add a bit of drama to the images


Add Smoke

Next, use a fog machine to hide parts of the factory that don’t add anything of value to the image.

Fog dispenser for portraits

Use a smoke/fog machine.

Arrange the Wardrobe

Ensure that the people at the factory are in their standard issue uniforms so as to bring a sense of order into the images. This also induces a feeling that the company pays more attention to detail and is organized and methodical in the workplace.

Introduce Dramatic Elements

Introduce a few dramatic elements into the image to give the audience visual interest. In this image, Morgan asked a worker to carry a big wrench and turn into the light so that it gives a nice glow.

Add dramatic element in industrial portraits

Add a dramatic element to the image.

Connect to the Job

Have the workers hold tools that they work with. It connects them to the job and to the place.

industrial portrait shoot

Wear Safety Gear

At all times ensure that the workers are wearing their standard issue safety gear. That goes for you and your crew as well. An industrial setup is littered with big machinery and hazardous materials. So, hard hats, safety goggles, gloves, and boots are necessary.

Safety gear for industrial shoot

Safety gear is a must at an industrial shoot.

Save Time

When shooting at a workplace, be it an industrial unit or an office, time is of the essence. Every minute you hold up the shoot, the business is losing money. The following tips will help you save critical moments when shooting in an industrial environment.

1. Set up your strobes (lighting equipment) in advance.

Set up your lights and test them to make sure that they’re all in working condition (even if you already tested them prior to arrival). Ensure that all the radio slaves and strobe heads are working, as well.

Lighting arrangement industrial shoot

Lighting arrangement for the shoot

2. Hunt down the power outlets.

Find the power outlets and run all the cables and cords while you’re setting up your gear. This way, you can draw power as soon as the machines at the factory stop working and the people are ready to be photographed.

3. Prep the wardrobe.

Get the uniforms pressed and ready to be worn at a moment’s notice.

4. Set up the camera and fire the test shots.

Get your camera and lenses ready. Find the right angles to shoot from and take test shots so you’re ready to start clicking as soon as your models are ready.

5. Warm up the smoke machine.

Smoke machines take a little while to get warmed up. As soon as you’re ready, turn them on and get them warmed up. This way you’ll save critical minutes when you’re ready to shoot.

6. Ask for help.

If you’re desperately short of staff and need a few pairs of extra hands, don’t hesitate to ask. Ask a staffer or your client to lend you a hand with just about anything. Remember they are just as excited as you are to get things rolling.

7. Take an extra strobe head.

You never know when you’re going to need more light. Every now and then you might reach out for a non-existent extra light to illuminate a certain section of a scene. In such a situation, an extra light would be a life saver.

factory photo shoot

The more attention you pay to detail, the happier  your client will be, and the better your photos will look.

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