Adventures up a Ladder - Building and Construction Photography in the North East
I’ve always loved photography so am often loathed to turn down any enquiry for ‘something a bit different’. For better or worse this has recently led me to add some unusual new items to my standard camera kit, i.e. safety boots, hi-viz jacket and hard hat. So for the last six months I have been documenting a large private house build in the North East, from the ground up. As well as the traditional stills work the build also has two time-lapse cameras set up on site and I have had to build in time every few weeks to check the cameras, change batteries and download files.
All very well in theory but one camera sits atop a pole on a two storey shipping container site office, accessed only by a hand held ladder. The container’s slippery, wet and smooth surface, without any hand holds, is not conducive to walking about on and is further enhanced as being the location where all the builders throw their banana peels! All part of of the job.
So not a standard photography job but one which does offer interesting rewards. For one you get to see a large impressive house rise from the ground and you start to see the intricacies of the build and the skills of the various trades involved. Getting up onto the roof to see how the timber work is done and how the skilled leadwork is crafted with quality and care is fascinating. With the build scheduled to continue well into next year the prospect of continuing to find myself ankle deep in mud or three stories up on a windswept roof will continue to be a regular feature of my week.
As a photographer has it been worth it? In short, yes. It’s helped me to understand how to work collaboratively with trades on a site and also allowed me to build up skills and imagery that otherwise would not be part of my portfolio. So much so that I will be looking to develop my services with architects, main contractors and builders to deliver more building, construction and architecture photography.
It’s also reminded me how well adapted the Fujifilm X-Series cameras are to a challenging job like this - much smaller and lighter than standard pro DSLRs, I actually don’t mind running up down ladders with the Fujifilm X-E2 too much as its weight and form don’t really get in the way.