The Surprise of Shipping Photography

May 13, 2011 · 8 comments

7-678-5285  stock photo of Shipping, Containers stacked on container ship, view from stern

When I first started in photography what interested me most were landscapes, sunsets, dramatic light, interesting colors and subjects. It came as quite a surprise then, when I turned my attention to industrial projects, and found a similar experience of excitement and engagement with my subject.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise. Training as a photographer meant developing the capacity to see – to see beauty in everyday things, to notice the quality of light, to observe light and texture, movement and moment, and to simplify the image by removing everything that doesn’t need to be there. This is exactly what makes excellent industrial photography (and even portraits for that matter).

In the coming days then I’ll be putting together a portfolio of shipping and industrial images from past projects. And I’d be interested in any of your thoughts about the crossover from travel and landscape to commercial industrial and shipping photography.

1-490-10  stock photo of California, San Francisco Bay, Tanker Gaz Master approaching Carquinez Bridge

California, San Francisco Bay

5-700-4897  stock photo of Sweden, Goteborg, Container ship

Goteborg, Sweden

7-620-9251  stock photo of China, Shanghai, Crane in shipyard

Shanghai, China

7-678-5923  stock photo of Shipping, Container being lifted by crane


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christine Berardi September 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

My husband is in that business and we used to live in the Bay Area, so I suppose I have a double fascination for the subject. I like the color and the sometimes abstract quality of the apparatus involved- I used to say the cranes in Oakland looked like big horses. It’s interesting also to juxtapose the natural power of the sea and water with these huge vessels and human engineered equipment.

I look forward to seeing the images as you gather them!


2 Digital tech August 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm

thanks for sharing the idea that would be helping a lot


3 David Sanger May 30, 2011 at 5:38 am

@twitter-59599890:disqus, I think the fundamentals are the same for any kind of photography. What surprised me was that I had a similar feeling of challenge and engagement trying to render the industrial scenes and subjects accurately and with feeling.
and @google-bbf5da64b1f15197157bd6812a5d8d09:disqus , that’s also a huge part of the magic of photography in finely tuning our ability to see, and appreciate and enjoy what so often is hidden in plain sight. (You might also add a link to your website or add a Disqus profile so we can see your images)



4 Quang-Tuan Luong May 25, 2011 at 1:57 am

Agree about visual similarities. I am still photographing landscapes and have not had any assignment that required me to photograph shipping, yet I found some scenes of that industry visually interesting enough that I have a small, but growing collection of industrial shipping photography. Note that like all other images on my website, I published those because I thought they were interesting, not because they may possibly sell – I am not known for this type of photography anyways.


5 Janice Lind May 19, 2011 at 11:45 am

David, I couldn’t agree with you more on finding “beauty in everyday things”. The biggest compliment I get with my photos is “wow, I didn’t notice that.” It’s that pause that people take  to register what they are looking at and realize it’s been in front of them for years, but never took the time to really “look”.

That observer reaction is part of the reason why I have moved away from landscape and nature photography. I would love to pass on to all that there is beauty all around us…we just need to pause long enough to take notice!


6 David Sanger May 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm

 that’s right John, but it also can be enjoyable. Of the the photo skills I have developed, the attention to composition has been the most valuable I think.


7 Anonymous May 14, 2011 at 7:32 am

Nice shots! It all comes down to the same basics: color, form, lines, etc.


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