15 May Poughkeepsie NY. Business Portrait | James Taylor Manufacturing
So when I get a call from the photography editor at Forbes about a portrait or as in this case a photo essay they needed shot I get excited. What was even more interesting about this particular assignment was that it was in my backyard. Poughkeepsie, New York. Poughkeepsie, was at one time a manufacturing town and a pretty thriving one at that, with many large corporations having hubs here. One by one they left for various reasons, leaving behind many empty shells. Not in this case. James Taylor Manufacturing is a success story. This company design and builds machines that help commercial builders of furniture, cabinetry and flooring build their wares. So machines that build. When we got to the plant we pulled into the loading area and unloaded, we were met by Michael Burdis, one of the partners, who led us on a quick tour of the factory and the various stations. The place was neat and orderly and a bit photographically overwhelming. Where does one start? The main subject here is the factory but a plain shot of the machinery is not a complete story by far. The people behind the machinery are what the story is really about. So after the quick tour we settled on a main location for the partners portrait. It was going to be alongside a particular piece of machinery that they have just created and already sold. The machine is large and not very sexy, unless you are into metal and gears. So I added some side lighting to give it some edge and interest and we shot Brad Quick and Michael Burdis in various places in, on and around the machine. Lighting a factory was clearly not feasible so we went with the available mixed lighting and augmented with our own. The final portrait was good. The factory was visible, the machine looks imposing and substantial, and the guys look good. What more could you ask for. Then we moved on quickly to get some of the workers doing their thing at various stations around the place. Welders , toolmakers, machine operators etc.. This was fun as it was completely reportage style shooting, which can be very liberating. Just me and my camera, no additional lighting or tethering to a computer. I came away with some nice portraits in a very short time. After we wrapped up and loaded out, we went down the road to a factory that had been abandoned and was recommended to us by the writer of the story. He mentioned that he was going to reference some of Poughkeepsie’s now empty factories. We got a few dilapidated building images and the story was complete. Very cool shoot and the print version of the magazine ran multiple images. Thanks Forbes!