Most people associate industrial photography with heavy industry: power plants, automobile factories, and steel mills. While that is true, industrial imaging in our modern world means much more than that. It is a type of imaging in which institutions both public and private describe to the world what they do, what they sell, and/or what they manufacture. The target audience can be inside or outside of the institution itself.
industrial photography is public relations photography on a broad
scale. It is about communicating to the world all the things people do
to make a living, making things and performing services that many of us
use every day.
And (since this is a macro photography website) it also includes photography on a very small scale!
But before we dive in, here's a list of the other pages in this Macro Photography Careers section:
subjects for an industrial photographer are details of technical
equipment, such as scientific instruments, electronic parts, and
micro-machine parts. Photographing small objects like these requires a
strong foundation in close-up photography, and macro photography.
Industrial photographers must have mastered the basic principles of close-up and macro photography. They will use appropriate macro lenses, macro accessories, and lighting accessories, such as ring flash (follow the link for more on this important subject).
A macro lens and a set of extension tubes is the most versatile macro photography combination I know of. It is also easy on the pocketbook as well as lightweight and compact, and is thus highly recommended for all industrial photographers.
Any institution that employs industrial photographers should recognize the importance of high-quality equipment, and outfit its photographers accordingly.
Photography equipment in this field must be rugged and able to withstand heavy use: insist on the best professional equipment available. Beware of the high cost of cheap equipment! Break-downs are expensive!
Industrial photography subjects are everywhere, which means the industrial photographer needs to be prepared to work in studio or out on location. Check out my Studio Photography and Portable Photo Studio pages for more on how to equip yourself for close-up photography and macro photography in a dedicated space, or out and about in the great, wide world.
See the title page of this section, Macro
Photography Careers, for a general discussion on training for
one of various photography jobs.
Of the photography careers I discuss in this section, industrial photography is the one most likely to be practiced by independent, freelance photographers.
I mention this here because, in my opinion, there no better access point into photography jobs than working as an assistant photographer to an established industrial photographer. To find a top pro in your area, get recommendations from public relations professionals in companies whose products you could enjoy photographing. Or, contact photographers directly through local professional photographers' organizations.
United States, look up photographers in your area through the American
Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), or the Professional
Photographers of America (PPA).
Learning by doing is another great option! Industrial subjects are all around us, especially if you expand your definition beyond power plants and steel mills.
Industrial photography subjects can be as grandiose or as
modest in scale as you want to make them. In my early days, I
photographed hydroelectric plants, freight rail yards, and breweries
(where I found the copper valve, above at left) in my spare time.
I've also enjoyed photographing "hands at work" (above at right), a much less splashy subject but equally deserving of attention. This series let me flex my close-up photography muscles, too!
Access to industrial locations is generally by pre-arranged permission only. I got good at seeking out the people who could help me get in, and asking nicely.