Sunday 21 January 2018

Incidental Beauty

“Photographs like these...preserve the secret
origins of objects we tend to take for granted...
[They convey] the incidental beauty of functional machines.”
- Sam Anderson, “Fine Lines/Inside one of 
America’s last pencil factories”
(The New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2018)

The Sunday, January 14th edition of The New York Times Magazine included a marvellous photo essay (link) by noted industrial photographer Christopher Payne (website). His focus was the General Pencil Company of Jersey City, New Jersey. Founded in 1889, the General Pencil Company is one of the last pencil factories in the United States. Payne’s photographs have an almost magical quality to them. They bring to life the surprisingly complex process of manufacturing a pencil and are starkly beautiful.

Industrial photography is one of my favourite forms of photography. I love the patterns, colours, and shapes of machines, tools, and devices, totally separate from their actual functions. As the American graphic designer Saul Bass (1920-1996) once said, “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares...Design is thinking made visible.”

I spent a very pleasant evening last week going through several thousand of my photographs in search of industrial-style photographs. Here are ten of them from 2015, each with a cheeky sense of colour and a distinct personality.


Chris' Privet, Toronto, September, 2015

Cleaning Supplies, Canadian Tire Store, Belleville, October, 2015

Hydraulic Controls, Crate Marine, Belleville, March, 2015

 Tractor Engine, Quinet Sports & Wellness Centre, Belleville, May, 2015

Harrows, Anderson Equipment t Sales, Belleville, June, 2015

Frances' Computer, June, 2015

Front Street Towel, Belleville, June, 2015

Pop Machine, Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre, June, 2015

Water Guns, Dollarama, Belleville, August, 2015

Kia Soul Reflection, Bayview Auto, Belleville, September, 2015

1 comment:

  1. These are wonder-ful. Loved the text and the images...your posts are wildly informative and delightful, Larry.