Birmingham has always been a centre of industry and manufacturing, and it is always a privilege to photograph some of the oldest companies in the area. The Davis and Hill Foundry is based in the heart of the West Midlands, and they have been making hand-bells since 1893. It is a process that produces some of the best hand bells in the world, as well as deck bells and wall mounted bells. Often when I work with a company I often cover various aspects of their photography for them. A while ago I was asked to go along to the foundry to photograph a small reception that they had arranged to present a bell to Digby Jones for press and PR. Whilst I was there I also spent some time doing some product photography as well, to give them a good range of photographs to use for a variety of purposes within their industry.
PR Images are a particular skill set with photography. A good story needs good images to accompany it, and the photograph have to compliment the text, and they have to stand out to editors to help sell the story. As a photographer I have to move quickly, anticipate the scene, and understand the publicity that the client needs. On the other hand product photography requires a much more meticulous approach. Particularly taking photos of shiny objects such as bells, you need to be careful what reflections are showing – you need some to show the contours, but you don’t want too many that would be a distracting. One particular challenge on this shoot was keeping a sense of scale – the bells were different sizes, but without a sense of proportion, there is a risk that they all look the same size. This is where experience comes in to make sure you can show the product in a realistic way for the customer.
One of the other parts to this shoot was mostly a personal project – I really enjoy industry photography and found the Foundry to be incredibly visually interesting, and while I was there I was also able to spend some time just photographing some of Birmingham’s industrial heritage.