Published on Mon Jul 27, 2020 by David J Colbran
As my work is beginning to return I thought I would cover a really interesting commission at a series of science laboratories here on Merseyside. For commercial reasons I am not going to name the company but it works in the field of researching energy resources.
Science lab photography is quite specialised and a little different from most of my other work. So I had a pre-shoot visit and meeting with the lab manager. We had to carefully plan a few things from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to scheduling of the shoot itself around their work. It became clear that working in a 'live' lab was going to be a challenging task. The lab manager had to make sure I had adequate time to get the images, while balancing this against the need for certain projects to be completed on time. Also we needed some action images with scientists and technicians using particular equipment.
The business already had a strong commitment to health and safety and good workplace practises. So I took my lead from them. We undertook a careful risk assessment of our activities and the lab manager pointed out potential dangers in certain areas of the labs.
As the labs deal with some quite dangerous materials, I was shown a safety video and learnt about their site wide warning and alarm systems. PPE was arranged for me and we noted particular requirements for any of the people who were to be our models and ensured they all had on the correct equipment.
We agreed a shoot PPE checklist, which I've incorporated into my risk assessment documents for future reference. Here it is for those interested.
1. All lab coats should be worn buttoned up right to the top, with sleeves rolled down.
2. All people in a lab environment must be wearing a lab coat.
3. All lab coats consistent, clean and displaying the correct company branding.
4. Long hair tied up at all times.
5. Protective eye-wear must be worn at all times.
6. Close toe shoes must be worn at all times.
7. If one person is wearing protective gloves, then everyone in the shot should be wearing them.
8. All scientists, researchers and technical staff working there have a responsibility to ensure that they meet these requirements and highlight them to visitors.
As with all shoots using workplace volunteers as models - it takes a certain level of patience and a relaxed manner to get the best out of the shoot. Asking them to pause when undertaking real work is a good technique. And then working from different angles to give the client a number of alternative images. Gaining their trust and making them relaxed around the camera is my goal and this is essential to get those 'natural' feeling images.
The brief was to get some clean, ambient light images, so this avoided the need to bulky lighting set ups and of course made moving from lab to lab much easier and safer.
Below is a small selection of approved images.
science, labs, industry Author: David J Colbran
"Just wanted to drop you a line to say thank-you so much for the brilliant job you did for us in Bootle barracks the other week – we hit the Echo and also the Plymouth Daily (where we have an interest in veterans services) so we were dead chuffed."