Capturing Compelling Construction Photography

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Construction photography presents professional photographers with multiple challenges, both creative and technical.

Unlike many photographic assignments, this type of work does not allow for the staging, positioning or meticulous lighting that is often a significant part of the work that leads to a successful image. Construction photography, particularly some of the work Total Impact specializes in, is often deep underground in the laborynth of mass transit and infrastructure tunnels in New York. These locations present special challenges including extreme conditions including airborne rock dust, water, extreme humidity, and often very low light levels.

The imaging sensors of today’s digital cameras are very sensitive to airborne dust, and will create a spot in your image wherever dust has landed on your sensor. Going into a job with a dust free sensor is an obvious requirement, but maintaining that during a shoot in which you are changing lenses in an atmosphere laden with dust can wreak havoc with your images. One solution is to try to settle on one lens per body in an effort to eliminate or at least reduce the opportunity for dust to contact the sensor.

Very low light levels typically encountered requires the careful selection of fast lenses, lenses with image stabilization, and the use of tripod whenever possible. Also learning, practicing and using proven techniques for steady hand held shots is a must.

Finally, shooting candid shots in these environments means that you’ve got to wrestle with the typical mugging the shot syndrome. Like the rest of the public, construction workers like to play cat and mouse with photographers, often compromising shots that otherwise had the makings of something special. We solve this problem by spending time with the construction crew prior to shooting. Giving them the opportunity to become familiar, first with you, then with the equipment. Eventually you will be accepted as just another member of the work crew, and the geers, glares and gameplay will give way to the opportunity to capture the kind of serious imagery you’re there for. Be patient and wait for the opportunities, they will come.

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