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…


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