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4 Ways Industrial Photographers Can Take Their Careers To New Heights

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1. Get Your HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) Certification

It’s not everyday that you wake up and realize how awesome a birds-eye-view of the world really is until you’ve seen it for yourself. I guess you could say this perspective is addicting (if you could only imagine the view from space) and that there’s no wonder why so many pilots enjoy their office 40,000 feet in the air.

But not all is bright when you put your faith in just a few blades spinning at 500 RPM and there has already been 20 helicopter accidents in the first quarter of 2014. However, compared to the number of helicopters flying, these stats are not intimidating. Especially considering the fact that we are terrestrial creatures and shouldn’t be doing this in the first place!

The HUET course is designed for “Personnel who are required to regularly travel by helicopter over water” and it takes just one day to complete. 

As most industrial photographers know there are a few laws to obey and this one should not be ignored. Essentially, the HUET certification is a photographers gateway to “explore a new angle”.

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What are the opportunities out there for industrial photographers with the HUET certification?

Let’s first define the two types of aerial photography; oblique and vertical.

Oblique aerial photography is the process of taking pictures from an angle to provide a sense of definition and depth while vertical as the name implies, includes photographs from a direct birds eye view looking straight down on the subject.

Oblique photography is often used for advertising and promotion work, aerial construction progress reports and for commercial and residential property land up for sale. On the contrary, vertical photography fits in for mapping projects, farm evaluation and scientific studies such a flood risk assessment and so on.

Although I have done aerial photography over land, the main reasons to obtain the HUET certification is to allow me to do offshore work. Personally, I am not HUET certified but it’s definitely in the pipeline.

2. Join Various Oil and Gas Groups and Other Industry Related Organizations

Industrial photographers in the midwest region have access to a growing number of oil and gas groups that are just starting to realize their full potential. Oil and gas groups such as the Illinois based Midwest Energy Partners are constantly seeking available minerals and geological zones with the ability to produce commercial levels of oil and gas. These new ventures raise the demand for professional industrial photography, especially specific types such as aerial. Refining natural oil and gas is a long process which presents photographers with more chances to get in on the action. It’s important to understand the production cycle of the various gas and oil products such as methanol, solvents, greases, diesel fuel and more. There’s a time and place to capture everything behind the scenes and that’s the job of an industrial photographer.

3. Attend Trade Shows Related To Industrial Manufacturing Per Year

Even though social media has become a popular and useful method of networking, trade shows payoff of in the short run and are much more fun. Trade shows are the perfect platform for engaging in face to face communication and staying up to date on new technology and industry standards.

When I attend a trade show I always wear a safety green shirt with a QR code on the back that directs people to my website. Following the trade show I dive into my site analytics to see how much website activity I receive.

During the trade show I’ll also upload images to instagram and then repurpose them on my other social media accounts. Curating this content is a great way to reach out to everybody involved in the trade show and it’s a great way to stay in touch with new contacts.

I am planning on attending The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in September which is one of the largest industrial trade shows in the world, featuring 1,900 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors. The event is held every two years at McCormick Place, Chicago.

4. Show Off On Social Media, Don’t Just Show Up

Creating your accounts and inviting all your friends to like your pages is the easy part. The challenge is maintaining a consistent presence and engaging with thought leaders and industrial manufacturing related groups. Hashtags have proved to be the best way to turn leads into likes by pushing out photos and blog posts with #industrialmanufcaturing and #photography related tags.

  • Use hashtags to connect with your industry by tagging your content with hashtags that are trending and related to your field.
  • I usually add new images to Flickr and Pinterest 2 to 3 times a month. And repin other peoples pins 2 times a month.
  • I spend time on Twitter each day posting 3 tweets.


Of course I’m on instagram and here is my first selfie.

In the end, the most important part of being an industrial photographer is to remind myself why I started this profession in the first place. Never lose sight of why you started something and always look for ways to be better at what you love doing.

As an industrial photographer I enjoy capturing everyday life and communicating the way in which society sustains itself.

My Approach to Industrial Photography


My eye protection is on, the factory is in motion and my camera is focused on the diamond steel blade router spinning at 10,000 rpm. I kneel down on one knee and raise my elbow to prepare for the perfect shot as the shards of steel thrash out from the machine that sounds like a screeching tiger in my ear. It’s just another day at the office as an industrial photographer.

There are so many facets of photography and people always wonder what photographers specialize in. I’ve perfected the lighting in fashion photography, captured the excitement of a moment as a photojournalist and  have produced many portraits, but my lens is clearly focused on the industrial and agriculture scene. When someone asks me what my specialty is, I simply reply, “capturing everyday life and communicating the ways in which society sustains itself”. Pictures are snapped in seconds but creating powerful industrial images requires fine tuning and practice.

It’s important for me to scout out the location and have a preproduction meeting before I dive into a project. This allows me to plan out the shots I want and makes the overall experience run smooth. I also like to start out shooting the large picture of what the client wants then focus in on the smaller details. My goal is to create a connection between the photographs I take and it’s easier to do that when I expose myself to a project scene or set location for a long time. I can mentally piece the images together then capture them. It’s not a coincidence that I now find myself on manufacturing locations, construction sites and industrial settings with a camera in my hand.

I received my first camera when I was 9 and I participated in a 4H photography project shortly after. As a child, I spent a lot of time on work sites with my father and was exposed to the inner workings of grain elevators and foundries. Industrial photography is a great outlet to showcase my expertise of the technical side of business development because I have a thorough understanding of the inner workings of a business. Whether your company is seeking marketing material, executive portraiture or getting ready to release an annual report, I can capture and provide photographs that represent your company and make a statement.

In September I am attending the International Mining Expo to learn more about the mining industry. I want to reach out to people I can collaborate with and start exploring the different businesses and organizations I can shoot for. I’m in this business to help connect people around the country and to contribute to the advancement of newer technologies and industrial manufacturing.