When I take on an industrial photography project, my goal is to celebrate its innovation and craftsmanship; this involves more than just snapping a photo to tick the task off.
On approach, I will look out for the best composition and I will only shoot when the light truly allows the project to shine. Because industrial sites are generally vast and chaotic, I want to simplify the image and make something that’s visually easy for the eye to record. I either go very wide or shoot very tight – I don’t go in the middle. I choose a time when light and shadow work together to create depth. I use contrasting colours to make the image more dynamic and I leverage linear lines to add a sense of order.
I also like to show man and machine to land the scale of a person compared to the scale of the project. By including the person, I am also celebrating and showing people at work, which is all part of the story.
Treating an industrial project like a piece of art might seem odd but when you’re the photographer, and you have unrivalled access to a site, I believe it’d be very hard for any creative not to fall in love with the projects. The Victorian Desalination Project was one that especially impressed me. Seeing the electrical work and the pipework up close was truly akin to viewing a masterpiece!
What I find exciting about industrial photography is not just the scale of the object and project, but the scale of the process; projects will span over many years and sometimes cover many locations. As the photographer, this calls for patience as well as curiosity so that you can stick it out and continue to see new angles and intricacies that are worth documenting.
Eastlink was a significant freeway project that lasted for 5 years and was so big that I shared the job with several other photographers. To the regular person, all you see is a road that you likely take for granted, but what I saw was a huge hole being dug, that was then overlaid by mesh, then concrete, then multiple surfaces to make the road that we know now. Even during construction, I saw pleasing graphical shapes in the roadwork barriers being used and interesting lines and textures everywhere.
Nyrstar was a mining project that began in Tasmania and took the team and I to Europe, the US and Latin America – all in the space of 1 year. We not only got to photograph the manufacturing of zinc but also the actual mining process, which meant we were working anywhere from 1-kilometre underground to 5,000 metres above ground – the places a photography career takes you!