Bigger the Investment, the Uglier the machine!

We received a call from American Cyanamid to go to one of they're research facilities to photograph a new expensive piece of equipment (Mass Spectrometer). I often see pictures by all of my friends and competitors and always think they are lucky because they get the good looking locations (actually we all get the same lousy looking locations and machines but I like to think I am the only one). The clients description of the machine started to get me really psyched thinking finally an easy job, just go in set up a couple of lights and shoot a brand new machine, no cleaning and no polishing will be needed. "When will I learn?"

We arrived at the location at 8:00AM after a 3 hour drive. Our contact met us in the reception area mumbling to himself, "I hope this doesn't take to long, I have no idea what you guys are going to shoot, the machine is in the back of the basement and isn't even running." He then took us down to a storage room. The room was crowded with equipment. The machine in question was shoved into a corner of the room and it was made of polished steel which reflected everything.

The interesting thing about working on location is that solving the technical problems of the shoot often help make the creative solution.

In this case we needed to somehow come up with a way to show the machine, make it look expensive and high tech. The problems were it still hadn't been installed, it was in a small tightly cramped area, it was highly polished and reflected everything in the room including the photographer, (meaning me). The solution worked itself out. We first covered everything in the room accept the machine with black cloth. Then we set up the lights, the first one was pointed into a wall beside the machine and it had a blue filter on it. Then another light was placed on the right to light up the 2 scientists. Now came the big problem, getting me into the corner of the room behind the machine. I am not a small person, I had to squeeze into the corner behind the machine and then shoot. The only way to change film was to remove the camera from the tripod because the camera and I were wedged against the wall.

I am now 40 pounnds and many inches smaller but would still have a hard time contorting myself to get that shot again.