Beer & Blog: Achieving Exceptional Industrial Product Photography, with Randy Tagg

Posted by Mandy Bly on Tue, Sep 20, 2016



High quality product photos are an important asset to your business. Randy Tagg, owner of Tagg Photography, recently gave us a snapshot into his life as a photographer. Randy has 35+ years experience with advertising and industrial photography in a variety of markets. From classy wine glasses to sleek optical lenses, Randy has an eye for elegance among challenging subjects. Launch Team Account Manager Sarah Campagna, a wedding photographer herself, discussed with Randy the artistic and technical experience of capturing images in high tech industries.


Sarah: Let’s start by defining what you do when you are working with a client.

Randy: Basically, I illustrate people and products, mainly on location. I work in a variety of markets such as technology, heavy industry, agriculture, architecture, and food and wine—shooting products, people, scenes, and aerials. I do some studio work as well, but I often bring the studio to the client’s place of business. Having props like optical benches and specialized tools already on location helps to make the entire image more authentic and helps to keep costs down. Sometimes products are both too large and heavy to move, or proprietary, so working on location is the best alternative. Working efficiently to save both time and money is always appreciated by my clients.


How did you end up specializing in optics and industrial?

I’ve always been the mechanical type, especially a big car guy. I’ve built, modified, and worked on cars throughout my life. I’ve always had a fascination with technology. My interest in high tech has also allowed me to understand my clients’ products and processes more clearly. I am able to ask relevant questions, to better translate a product into an image to really show how it works or what it does.


What is that experience like photographing optical products?

I have quite a bit of experience with lenses, lasers, and other optical products. No doubt, lenses can be hard to shoot. The lens elements can turn into small mirrors, and having many elements in a single lens makes for a lighting challenge. I’ve learned never to have a preconceived notion of how to light a product or setting beforehand, because it can depend on how the image will be laid out, or how it will ultimately be used. It’s a challenge, but certainly an interesting process.


In what types of ways are your images used?

Over the years as technology and media have changed, so have the ways my images are used. These days they are predominately used in brochures, datasheets, trade publication ads, trade show displays, websites, and annual reports. One of the biggest changes lately has been that clients have started using some of my images in their social media campaigns.


Give us your elevator pitch on why product line photos are so valuable.

There is so much quality potential in having professional photography done. For some companies there may be a lack of professional resources, but I encourage them to be open. I’ve seen situations where companies try to take their own photos on an iPhone or low-resolution device, and the results just give their potential customers a bad first impression. Self-done photography 99.9% of the time isn’t suitable. That great first impression is most important, and that is what my images give to my clients. When clients give me the materials and tell me to “make it look nice”—this is when my best work happens.


What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to photograph?

One thing that comes to mind is an industrial impeller used for aeration to help make chemical processes happen. On this interior location it was churning water around in a 50-foot deep pool, but the splashing water made this incredibly hard to light with high voltage strobes, and shooting at floor level made the product difficult to see. After isolating and protecting the lights with a lot of plastic sheeting, we put a cargo basket onto an industrial ceiling crane and got creative.

I got into the basket and went high over the pool to get the shot. The interesting—and terrifying—thing about this is when water is being aerated, there is zero buoyancy, so if you were to fall in you would immediately sink to the bottom. I’m glad that there was a safety harness available for me to use. The images came out great, and what made a situation like this go so well was the philosophy of the company. They allowed me to do what was necessary to get the best shot. Open-minded clients make the process smoother and the outcome stronger.


What is your protection and copyright agreement like once you’ve shot, edited, and distributed the images to your clients?

I tend to be pretty liberal with my clients when it comes to usage. I’ll work with them to ensure that they are getting the most for their investment in my images, and they appreciate that. I like to retain some usage so that I am able to use client images to promote myself, but if a client is having me photograph proprietary products or a process, that just isn’t possible. For these jobs, I’ll sign a non disclosure agreement and the client will be the only end user.


Examples of Randy's corporate and product photography are displayed below. To view more of Randy’s work, visit his portfolio.


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Tasting Notes: Try the Hop by Numbers IPA from Great Lakes Brewing Co. It’s smooth and sweet with citrus aromas and a piney hop finish.


Topics: Business Insights, Branding and Identity, Beer & Blog (interviews)