If you haven’t learned yet, I am an industrial photographer working in a town called Lewis Center. This area sits right outside the capital city of Ohio, Columbus. I never go a day without hearing the tracks of the railroad rumble and I will always be mesmerized by the endless surrounding rows of corn fields.
Here’s a quick glimpse at these scenes!
It’s a solid location for any industrial photographer to stake out a studio. Cleveland, the industrial hub and nationwide ranking city is on one end and Akron, the rubber capital of the country sits right below. I am about three hours from the primary industrial cities such as Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
There’s a lot to get my hands (lens) on in this area and no matter what working conditions I find myself shooting in, I strive to produce powerful visual images designed to educated, communicate and sell.
But just where do my pictures go? What are they used for? Who and what do I take pictures of? The list of questions goes on and on so let’s reveal some answers.
Hard Work, Hard Work, Read All About It
Pictures that reflect the environment and hard work of employees in action are just a part of industrial photography. I also capture images of groups and teams for companies to show their appreciation for a work in progress or a job well done. These pictures will be published in news articles and company brochures and come in the form of group shots.
A point and shoot camera can rarely capture the appreciation and glamour surrounding such teams. Certain lighting techniques, props and themes are what separates the photos I take from those captured with smartphones or point and shoot cameras. The picture used to show the pride of a team are just as important as the pride itself.
Shine A Light On Me
You have a new product that you are bringing to the market soon and your company needs pictures for brochures, catalogues, websites and marketing materials. This is when I take your product to my studio and execute lighting techniques to capture every angle possible.
Product photography can be captured outside of the studio and inside the environment it’s used.
Progress Shots on Facility Projects
There’s something special about watching home videos. We see ourselves at a certain point in time looking and acting differently and we can reflect on our past times. These videos essentially capture the progress of our lives. In the manufacturing industry, it’s no different but the focus transfers to machinery, facilities and gigantic industrial plants.
These images become great reminders to reflect on the past and serve to show appreciation for your company. The reason top notch photography provides the best outcome in these situations is because people want to see the best part of what happened and it takes a special eye to document these events.
Catch My Attention!
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, I will understand your vision and bring the uniqueness of your company to life.
Stock photography does not reveal professionalism of a company in todays visual driven media world. Anyone can bust out an iphone and snap a picture of their new machine and products but there is a higher demand on quality images in order to break out from the crowd and be noticed.
This is the most common type of work I do and I enjoy it most. These pictures go in marketing materials, product catalogs and business websites. Therefore, they will have the highest viewership among my published work.
These pictures can either be taken in my studio or on the location at your companies facility. It depends on the medium where you will be publishing your portraits but I am flexible enough to travel on site or work from the comfort of my studio.
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.
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.
HOW THE NEW HOLIDAY WILL KEEP THE AMERICAN MANUFACTURING PULSE PUMPING
This year, October is changing the future for American manufacturing and is bringing a bright side to the spooky month full of tricks and treats. From here on out, mark your calendar for the new holiday on October 5th, Manufacturing Day.
The director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Roger Kilmer says Manufacturing Day was grounded in the need to get as many manufacturing-related associations and groups on board to help spread the word, encourage manufacturers to open their doors, and get the public inside for tours. To carry out this mission, hundreds of factories and facilities across the country will open their doors for educators, students, customers and the public at large to expose their true inner workings.
The manufacturing industry has been the pulse of American progress since the industrial revolution. Connecting the west to the east with miles of tracks began as an idea and became one of our nations biggest accomplishments. Year after year, America turns big ideas into reality inside the factories and chemical plants across out nation. We’ve put the internet in the palm of your hand and electric cars in your driveway. As American companies experience the benefits in re-shoring their manufacturing, it’s time we expand knowledge and improve the public perception of manufacturing careers and it’s value to the U.S economy.
The main issue addressed by Manufacturing Day is the disconnection between the general publics view of manufacturing and the actual truth behind the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing offers great high-paying, professional jobs, yet the public doesn’t view them that way and there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill more than 600,000 jobs right now.
- Manufacturing workers make more than $77,000 a year on average (about $20k more than other industries)
- For every 1$ of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.43 for the economy
- In just five states, manufacturing adds over half a trillion dollars to the economy
CHECK OUT THE VISUAL STORY LINE OF THE FACTS IN THIS INFO GRAPHIC.
The gift of photography let’s me capture the inner workings of factories and their employees to highlight accomplishment, progress and company objectives. I strive to reflect the hard work and passion that fuels every facility I shoot in every picture I create. It’s where forum meets function to create powerful and compelling images to help companies connect. View my Lightbox-Imaging Flickr photo stream alongside this blog and enjoy, share and experience industrial manufacturing through my lens.
To support American manufacturing this Halloween, pass out the famous Dum Dum’s and know your made in America Candy with the American made directory website.
To learn more on manufacturing day, visit www.mfgday.com
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