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Telling the supply story

One of the most interesting things I get sent to photograph include the actual process of how things are made. Whether a centuries-old brewing and distilling process or the latest production lines filling millions of PET bottles in rapid streams of near silence over an immaculately clean factory floor, I find manufacture fascinating.

Close ups of objects, tools and processes help to tell the story and demonstrate a sense of pride and craft in many industries, or can display the sheer power of modern production. Keenly aware that the situations depicted in all my imagery must comply with company health and safety guidelines, correct safety equipment and best practice approaches, I confess I often need to devote some of my time to get to grips with exactly what I am to photograph and how it works.

I have to bear in mind that many of the images may be used small, perhaps seen quickly rather than studied like a painting hanging in a gallery. Pictures need to be clear and bold, perhaps making it clear what’s happening and where I am. I have been lucky to see just how global and diverse so many businesses are: The challenge is then to convey where we are, whether it is Thailand, India, America, or Islay, Scotland.

Every now and again, in this world of automation, you discover some part of the process that is done completely by hand. I watched as a select group of employees put the finishing touches to one luxury product, undaunted by the seemingly endless lines waiting for their individual attention. Well how else do you think we do it, I was told. And the answer was that so much of modern manufacture seems to have an element of science fiction and at times magic, that I never know quite what I will be seeing.