For industrial and corporate photographer Martin Vargas, a camera is a tool that goes further than the naked eye, to reveal beauty where there seemingly is none. "I like to consider that I make ugly, industrial things or sites pretty and appealing" he explains. His visual communications company, 33PHOTO, works throughout the year with some of Mexico's biggest corporations to document how they operate and innovate within their industries. This can often mean working long, uninterrupted hours in "harsh, industrial conditions" within the belly of a mine or the center of a chemical plant to get the shots they need. Clients continue to work with 33PHOTO year after year because they know Martin's crew has the work ethic, equipment, and expertise to meet any and all environmental challenges they encounter.
On more high-risks sites, those challenges can be both physical and mental. Their work for Penoles, the world's largest silver producer, for example, requires them to shoot inside various underground mines. Such a project requires at least a week of pre-production and preparation before the team even arrives. Once on site, the team gets to work at sunrise and quits only when the sun sets, snacking on protein bars and shakes along the way.
We shoot a lot, different angles, different combination of lights and ratios of ambient versus strobes, different lenses, exposures — a lot. This because going down a mine is no easy task, and we need to have as much material as possible...At the end of the very, very long day, we'll download all the cards, double backup, rename, grade, quick edit and have a first selection while having dinner - which by the way is our only "real" meal.
It is not unusual for Martin to have hundreds to thousands of images from such an assignment. He makes the volume more digestible by dividing his photos into several smaller galleries, then nesting them together inside one single, large gallery collection, which resides on his PhotoShelter site. His clients can then pull selections from these galleries into lightboxes, where they can rate, comment on, and share them with colleagues. Clients can also download low-res comps directly from galleries to use for mockup and project development purposes. Martin tracks which comps clients are downloading from the statistics area of his account, and when they're ready, he puts together a new gallery populated with the hi-res versions of their final selections for downloading.
We've never been in a situation where we've said "it's not possible."
He uses PhotoShelter to deliver images to more than just clients. "We send via FTP to our printer in Houston or China, to our retouchers in India or Tennessee and all is done via PS, sometimes even with an iPhone!" With his entire archive of images readily available from anywhere with an internet connection, he is prepared to fulfill any production request that comes his way quickly and efficiently.
His PhotoShelter account isn't just about serving clients with secure, fast and simple file delivery. As the head of a visual communications company, Martin also understands the importance of clear and consistent branding. He has streamlined his online presence with a PhotoShelter and WordPress blog integration. Because he uses Modularity, one of the Graph Paper Press themes supported by PhotoShelter, the complete integration was fully automated. By simply copying and pasting a URL from one of his recent blog posts into his PhotoShelter account, his GPP stylesheets were applied to his galleries, reskinning his PhotoShelter pages instantaneously. His clients now move from his blog posts to his PhotoShelter galleries without knowing they are navigating between two separate sites.
Martin has done a great job optimizing his site for search engines like Google as well. He employs the built in SEO Grader and the guidance provided in PhotoShelter's SEO Cookbook to ensure he's taking full advantage of the SEO tools available to all PhotoShelter members. Accordingly, he's put a good deal of thought into writing the descriptive page titles and meta-descriptions across his site, and adding keywords and captions to each image in his galleries. His efforts have paid off in a big way; at the time of writing, a Google search for "industrial and corporate photography" had http://33photo.photoshelter.com/ ranked fourth out of more than one million results.
The busiest time of year for Martin's team is Annual Report season. Beginning in August, they will work with their corporate clients through the mock-up, design, and execution phases up until the report is finally printed nearly half a year later. By being involved with every step of the process, they can ensure their clients' vision is carried through to the final product. 33PHOTO works with the same companies year after year, because they can always be depended on to go the extra mile: "We've never been in a situation where we've said 'it's not possible.' One of our producers says that our motto is "it's doable," and he's right - they request, we execute."
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