The Photography of Business

With the rapidly-changing landscape of digital photography, it’s easier than ever to get a good shot.  And it will be easier tomorrow.  So as more people consider making a living with their cameras, I’m sure lots of them will be interested in the business of photography.  At least they should.  They’ll go online and read Chase Jarvis  and David Hobby and Joe McNally and Vincent LaForet and all the successful shooters and try to weed through and find tips and tricks to “make it” in the photo biz.  I did the same thing.  But today, I’m much more interested in the photography of business.

In 2010, Infor sent me on a 10-city tour to photograph their actual customers in real work situations.  Very little staging, small strobes (if any), non-disruptive shots.  The first two here were shot in Houston at Alpa Precision Machine Works, where Alberto Gonzales and his team manufacture small metal parts for the oil and gas industry.  That’s Alberto in the middle there.  Very kind man and obvious natural leader, seeing how much his employees enjoy working for him at Alpa.

We moved across town to Cook Compression, who’s main product is the Moppet valve, used specifically in the natural gas industry.  Great people there at Cook, also, and big thanks to Cindy Cease for all her help and hospitality while we were there.  I gained a new respect for Houston while on this shoot.

Next, we flew up to Seattle to photograph Ampac Flexibles (formerly known at Mohawk Northern Plastics).  They manufacture plastics bags, mostly for the frozen vegetable business, with a process known as “blown film extrusion.” Paul Nemecheck (pictured there in one of his warehouses) has been with Ampac for over 20 years and knows every square inch of their incredible operation.  He’s a terrific guy and incredible host (he even climbed up on top of a train car for me.)

Our next stop was in London (after flying around Iceland and its volcanic ash cloud), where we stayed a couple of days shooting in the business district.  We hopped on a train and headed out west to Bath and Chippenham, where Herman Miller’s international headquarters are (also one of their manufacturing facilities and logistics/distribution centers.)  I absolutely loved England and everyone I met there.  Kevin Hall was an incredible host and gave us complete access to everywhere we needed to go.

A couple of weeks after we got back to the States, we left the country again for Toronto.  Specifically, Aurigen, which is a reinsurance company and another Infor customer.  This shoot was a challenge.  We’d been shooting mostly manufacturing facilities, and the work being done there at Aurigen was mostly on the phone and on computers.  More mind than muscle, for sure, but with lots of help from my overqualified assistant Jim Walters (I should be assisting him), we got the shots.

The next stop landed us just northeast of Manhattan in Chestnut Ridge, NJ, at LeCroy Corporation, who manufactures oscilloscopes.  Another challenge, since most of the work is done inside, under flourescents, on-screen.  But Kathy Woods and the rest of the team there made our job easy.

We stayed in Manhattan and got some good shots of the business between the work (commuters, people walking around downtown, Wall Street, Grand Central, etc.)  Even saw Russell Brand in his underwear (they were filming “Arthur.”) …More to come…

The Saxon Pub opens at Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Congratulations to bossman Joe Ables (there with the big scissors) on the official opening of The Saxon Pub at ABIA.  There with him cuttin’ up is Paula Nelson, Jeff Plankenhorn, Warren Hood, Bruce Hughes, Malford Milligan, Landis Armstrong and WC Clark.  That’s a bunch of musical talent behind that ribbon there.  Stop in next time you’re out there and try one of Joe’s bloody marys.  Exceptional mix he’s developed…spicy enough to blow your hat in the creek.

Shot at High Noon

So I got a call from my pals out at UT Golf Club yesterday, needing a shot of #12.  I dug up this one and thought about what a handy tool HDR has been for me and golf.  I shot this one at high noon a few years ago.  Before, shooting a golf course at any time other than “the golden hour” was a bad idea.  Noon was out of the question.  Not anymore.  You real estate marketers remember this when you’re told you can’t shoot in the middle of the day.

2011 Texas Gubernatorial Inauguration


We’re all learning.  Like today, I learned how to use another tool in Photoshop.  And I learned that I can print stuff wirelessly from my phone. I love learning.

So as you punks kids masturbate make your way through high school, think of the old guy who has to pick this up out of the street in front of his driveway.  Think before you roll down the window of your Kia Sorento (but not before turning down the Justin Bieber music you don’t want anyone to know you listen to) and intentionally litter.  Think, and learn.

Keep Texas Beautiful, you precious little creatures, and have a very Happy New Year.

I love this golf course

I know, I know.  This can’t happen anymore.  A golf course designed and built for golf’s sake.  (I got that line from Frances Trimble, a highly-respected Texas golf writer and historian.)  Golf courses should be built with the golfer in mind, shouldn’t they?  Not for selling real estate or as a place on which to sprinkle the dookie water from surrounding developments.  Golfcrest Country Club in Pearland is incredible, and there’s nothing flashy about it.  Simple, straightforward golf with beautiful trees and turf.  So what if the clubhouse looks like Noah’s Ark (not my description).  This, my friends, is what golf should be.  Allen Findlay, chairman of the Greens Committee there, told me that Hurricane Ike took 400 trees.  I can’t imagine what it looked like before.

Let’s see how many people I can piss off with this one…

Usually I try to avoid shooting the unsightly periphery of golf. Power lines, Pulte Homes, etc.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable.  It’s there, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. (Westlake Dermatology would certainly disagree.) I vote for embracing the features we feel may be different, ugly, unworthy, distracting.  They are part of the environment in person, so why not in photographs?  These anomalies are what make us different, special, unique.  They are what make us, us. Look at Heidi Montag.  She has systematically removed every last cell of sex appeal in a long and expensive journey designed to achieve it.  The poor thing.

The shot above is one from a couple of weeks ago in Houston.  That’s Houston National Golf Club, up on the northwest side of town.  Some very cool mounding around a relatively flat golf course.  27 holes and plans for another 9, which will change the whole place into a 36-hole facility with a private and a public course.

After spending a week in Houston, I’ve gained a new respect for it.  The weather was PERFECT every day I was there.  No humidity.  45-degree nights and 70-degree days.  Maybe it’s always that way in Houston (LMAO). Normally in Houston, it’s not humid, it’s more a feeling of hummus.

Why is this not litter?

So on the way back from lunch at Casino el Camino yesterday, I saw this on the dirtiest, stinkiest, most disgusting sidewalk in North America (6th Street, Austin, Texas) and see this.  If it were a Pepsi top, I think the same old thought would come to mind:  “People are thoughtless pigs, littering on my street.”  Maybe even if it were a Budweiser top.  Maybe. Definitely if it were ANY light beer.  But Coke has brand power with me like no other.  I wonder why.  Because I’ve never, in 44 years, had a bad experience with it?  Or maybe I have, and it still didn’t prevent me from buying it again.


That photo there of South Congress look familiar?  Does to me, too. At least they could’ve given me the decency of a reach-around (or a “link” as you developer-types like to call them.)  In all fairness, I could’ve made some sort of verbal agreement for these guys to use this shot, but I don’t remember.  I don’t remember anything.  So if that’s the case, sorry for the bashing.  But until proof of release surfaces, I stand firm with my accusation.

Once upon a time…

When your car has no A/C, and it’s 107 degrees, a place like this looks pretty inviting on an August Austin afternoon.  It’s probably cold and dark in there.  Just like the Budweiser bottle I’m sure I’d trade a couple of dollars for. But I have a job and a family, so I kept driving.  The end.


So in case you’re wondering why I’ve been so silent over the past few months, above is a big part of the reason.  Infor sent me on a 10-city photo tour shooting their actual customers, and we’re on city seven.  Great job, great people to work with and if this doesn’t wear out my shutter, nothing will.  Tens of thousands of images into this thing, I still can’t call it work.  Thanks to everyone who has provided support and assistance through this bigtime shoot.  Onward.

Brad Dunn on iTunes

Brad Dunn has completed his first album and it’s now up on iTunes.  Have a listen, buy a song, and tell all your friends that CW is the macdaddy who turned you on to him.  You may remember this photo I took of him down at Fosforus Studios.  You may also remember when I posted the shot below of him hitting it stiff out of the fairway bunker on #15 at Grey Rock, en route to beating me for the first time.  But since he’s been in the studios writing and recording around the clock for a few months, I’ll take him down next time.