Creating dramatic environmental portraits of a fire engine

I had an assignment to create a location portrait of an industrial fire engine inside a private refinery, for the E-ONE calendar several years ago. The final images came out great, but there was quite a bit of advance work necessary before I ever pulled the camera from my bag.

Photographing on private property requires permission and the signing of a release. That of course is a double-edged sword. Both sides want the release to favor them … the truck builder wants use of the images for future projects, the truck owner wants control over the release of images created on their property and the right to know where these images will appear.

Sometimes … as the agent that will be on the ground, I find the need to sidestep the attorneys that are protective of their respective clients, and act as a mediator/intermediary to smooth out the rough edges so I can get the job done.

Bottom line … the images were first viewed and approved by the refinery representatives before the client received them. I shot in a half dozen or so plant locations, and they permitted just over half for use by the client. The client never even saw the other images … that was the deal that I worked out with the corporate owner of the truck and it worked out for everyone. My job was creating dramatic environmental portraits of a fire engine, and that’s what I was intent on doing.

This first shot was in the middle of the afternoon … existing daylight … showing a busy portion of the facility with multiple pipe chases going in several directions. The yellowish tint to the pavement adds to the feel of the image.

Exxon Mobile Fire Department
An image of this industrial fire engine inside the plant where it was assigned. Larry Shapiro photo

Since I feel a need to provide multiple images for selection by the client, I spent an entire day on-site so that I could then begin shooting at dusk.

The engine was positioned in anticipation of a night shot, illuminated by facility owned portable light plants which are positioned throughout the facility to allow work throughout the night.

Exxon Mobile fire engine
Anticipating a night shot, I placed the engine in a setting that I felt told the story of it’s need … and started shooting at dusk in anticipation of total darkness. Larry Shapiro photo
Exxon Mobile Fire Department
Night image of the white image, Foreground illumination is from portable light plants and the background is natural light. Larry Shapiro photo
Exxon Mobile Fire Department
Final image with total darkness in the night sky. Larry Shapiro photo



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