tractor photography

Beyond Asphalt - Photographing A Road Construction Crew | A Digital Art That Rocks Photo Series


I Am The Highway

One thing that was particularly interesting about this location shoot, is that I had no physical address to plug in to my GPS. Just multiple locations on various stretches of highway in tandem with my own set of eyes. Luckily, it's pretty easy to spot a road crew as traffic begins to slow down a bit.

This wasn't my first rodeo pulling workers away from their day job in order to create their portrait. It was however my first time photographing people alongside a major stretch of a highway, which brought another level of intensity to this project. Anytime your photographing people and pulling them away from their job, means you need to respect their time and work fast. To stay safe in an environment like this, you also have to use your peripheral vision to keep an eye out for hot asphalt, large machinery & on coming traffic, all the while making sure your equipment is non obtrusive and portable enough to move at a moments notice.     


Beyond Asphalt

As most assignments go, you don't always know what's in store for any given photo shoot. I recently had a location assignment to photograph an asphalt company and follow their road construction crew around for a day.

It couldn't have been better day for an outdoor shoot. The morning started off with a warm glowing haze on the horizon alongside a clean, cool, Indiana breeze. Creating some illustrious contours, the the sun made it's presence known in the early hours of summer as it spilled over the backlit mountainscape of bronze asphalt. In northern Indiana, this is about as close as you're going to get to actual mountains. 

Light is the language of photography. And as a commercial photographer, I'm constantly observing & studying the properties of light. Whether I'm using the sun as my main light source or as a backlight, when shooting outdoors, I'm particularly cognizant of the sun's position at all times, using it to shape and creatively light my subjects. Whether it's a portrait or an object, knowing how to work with and shape light is absolutely crucial. 


I created a lot of imagery that day. But I'd say the hardest portrait to create was Peter (seen holding the stop/slow sign). I saw him from afar and just thought to myself, I have to make this guys portrait. He look like he had character and personality. Luckily, he was an awesome guy to work with and very receptive to having his portrait made. Despite the small amount of time we had to work together, we managed to have a good conversation and mutual respective for one another. 

We literally had less than 3 minutes or less between each set of moving traffic. You have to remember, we're in the middle of the highway. He has traffic stopped in one direction, so traffic from the opposite direction can get through. So I had to work extremely fast; moving my equipment into the middle of the road, creating dynamic portraits and then moving the hell out of the way. I did this at least 3 times before I had the shots in my minds eye.  


When doing a photo shoot like this, you have to remember, that these guys are not used to being photographed, especially while doing their job. Despite their serious expressions, these guys were fantastic to work with. I believe we established a mutual respect for one another, and I sure respect the hell out them for working in the elements the way they do. This line of work can be extremely dangerous due to extreme temperatures, and operating large machinery.  


As a commercial photographer, you have to be ready for almost anything. Though I specialize in product & architectural photography, I also believe that learning the disciplines of other types of photography can really help you on any given shoot. This outdoor industrial shoot is a perfect example of cultivating skillsets from various genres of photography and bringing them together on set to create a strong collection of imagery that simultaneously shows creative vision & technical proficiency. 

Knowing how illuminate someones face to create that classic painterly rembrandt triangle was not by accident. Being cognizant of the sun's position and using it backlight my subject and create a beautiful rim light that works harmoniously with my off camera flash, was not an accident. Shooting in the middle of the day, and still being able to create that amazing shallow depth of field to separate my subject from the background, was not by accident.

Hiring a professional commercial photographer can make all the difference on your next project. If you're serious about creating great imagery Contact Brian for a custom estimate based on your needs.

Brian Rodgers Jr. | Commercial Photographer/Digital Artist | Digital Art that Rocks LLC | Contact Brian
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