Quite often the photos I take for my clients are used either the day of the shoot or very shortly after. Mark from Armagh Cider got in touch a number of weeks back asking me to call down to their farm and bottling plant. He said they didn’t have an exact shot list as such but they wanted to freshen up their existing image library. The images I would take would be for future use in print and online.
What brief I did get was fairly simple. I was to come during the bottling process and photograph the different stages from start to finish. When I arrived in the morning to my surprise they were bottling Farmageddon and Yardsman beer, not their own cider. I didn’t realise that as one of the larger bottling plants in Northern Ireland, Armagh Cider bottle beer and cider for many other breweries next to their own.
You wouldn’t have thought a bottling plant would make a great place for a photo shoot but it was as good as any studio. Due to sanitation requirements the walls and roof of every room were covered in white plastic sheeting. I would be able to set my speed lights up and bounce the flash off the white plastic sheeting. This meant I didn’t have to use accessories such as softboxes and umbrellas as much which in turn helped me move around the plant a lot quicker.
Having never been in a bottling plant before I had to spend a bit of time watching the whole system in action. Initially it took a good bit of tinkering from the staff to get all the parts moving in unison but once they had the settings dialed in it was fascinating to watch. The bottles started off with a wash, moved on to the filling, then capping after which labels were applied. The various stages involved me watching the process over and over so I find the best angles to work at. As there were hundreds of bottles to clean, fill and label I would have many chances to get it right.