Capturing Construction Sites | Q&A with Alex Harvey-Brown, Knowles’ Photographer and Videographer
Capturing construction sites is a fine art, and one that has many benefits. At Knowles, we have always invested in photography and videography, of which is used across our social media channels, in project case studies, but also as a means of updating clients. We are regularly praised on the level of our site photography, and it is all down to Alex from Savannah Photographic, of whom Knowles have worked with for over 6 years.
We wanted to talk to Alex about his tips on capturing construction sites, and what he looks for on Knowles projects.
What do you look for when photographing a project?
The first thing I always look for are the angles and lines that form patterns – there is always some interesting geometry to look out for. Then I’m always looking for the operatives doing something interesting and action packed!
What is difficult/ what issues do you face when photographing a construction site?
The day to day working of a building site is not always geared to a photoshoot! There is a lot of noise and machinery to be aware of, so I have to be careful of where I go when I’m trying to get the perfect angle! Luckily for me Knowles sites are always very safe and well organised!
What lense/ camera settings do you use and why?
I’m always keen to capture the scale of Knowles sites so I like to use an ultra wide angle lens for most of my work. Some sites, especially basements, don’t get much sunlight so I have to use long exposures and slow shutter speeds to get as much light as possible into the camera.
How do you compose a shot? And what makes a good shot on a construction site?
As I mentioned the geometry of a site is always the first basis for my compositions, there are always interesting lines and angles. From steel beams to concrete walls, there is a lot of beauty in the architectural shapes of a Knowles site. If I’m shooting an operative at work I always try to get the site context in the background. Sometimes dust from works can catch the light in beautiful ways too!
How do you video a project?
I approach filming sites in a very similar way to photographing them, however with moving pictures I have some cool tricks I can use to capture the scale and scope of Knowles projects. Techniques like time-lapses and slow motion and using tools like gimbals and drones to get a perspective you wouldn’t normally see from the ground.
Can you name some of your favourite projects that you have photographed for Knowles and explain why they stand out?
Some of my favourite projects are probably the stately homes in the country as they are always in such beautiful surroundings and I have lots of fun trying to find the best way of capturing the scale of what goes on and shooting all of the myriad skills and building techniques on those very complex sites. I also love the Kensington High Street project, it’s fascinating having a site right above a tube line
(I’ll confess to being a bit of a train geek!), and the original buildings being really old. So much heritage and history and right in the heart of London – it’s really special. There are loads of things going on with the project as it is very complex, so I really enjoy the challenge of trying to capture all the elements as they happen.