“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