The complicated nature of breakups isn’t limited to people. Businesses go through separations as well, involving piles of paperwork analyzed and dissected by armies of lawyers, accountants, and executives. Trinity Industries found itself in this position in 2018, when it spun off its construction and materials division into an independent, publicly-traded company: Arcosa. Before the spin-off, Dallas-based photographer Tadd Myers had worked with the company on their “Trinity Craftsmanship” project for four years, photographing over 30 industrial facilities around the US and Mexico. The separation could have spelled the end of Tadd’s working relationship with Trinity and the newly formed company, but his previous collaborations had made a lasting impression.
Tadd worked with Arcosa for the first time in 2021, on a photo shoot at a Texas concrete recycling plant. Pleased with his aesthetic within the industrial specialty, Arcosa invited him for a second outing. This time, he’d photograph a limestone quarry on Texada Island, British Columbia, and two processing facilities in Seattle, Washington.
These projects are some of my favorites. I really like working with clients that make things, and seeing the amazing hands-on work they do. My father was a bit of a craftsman himself, so that helped fuel my interest in these companies even today.
Arcosa hoped to create a photographic story illustrating the people and processes at work across the three locations. Once completed, the images would be deployed across various internal and external communications platforms, covering on-site displays to annual reports.
This project required intensive planning; just showing up for the shoot wouldn’t cut it. So Tadd and two clients from Arcosa’s Dallas HQ went on a weeklong scouting trip to get a lay of the land. First, they had to ascertain the constraints at each location so the planned shots could be captured right on time. This was of particular importance at the limestone quarry.
I really wanted to get a drone shot from the waterside, showing the loaded barge in the foreground and the island in the background. Given the location of the plant and the direction it was facing, I determined that this image could only be shot in the late afternoon. Additionally, they only loaded a barge with material every four to five days, so we would have to plan our shoot to be there as it happened. We also discussed the timing of the load since it takes around 8-10 hours to load a barge with product. Therefore, the date was important, and the time of day was as well.
Production occurred in May 2022, a month after scouting. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by a travel itinerary that could bother even the most seasoned travelers.
We were shooting in Canada and the US, so we needed passports and US Customs equipment lists. The travel also took longer because of the multiple flights to get to Powel River, BC. It took one full travel day to get from Dallas/Fort Worth to Vancouver, BC, and then to Powell River, BC, before ferrying over to Texada Island for our accommodations.
Production spanned five days, but the travel time over the entire project was just as long, coming short by a day at four. Tadd and his crew received a bit of respite, though, when they decided to catch a Seattle Mariners game over a weekend in between. The first two days of shooting were concentrated on the quarry, with the outdoor images requiring the most planning and attention.
The limestone quarry was very dusty and muddy at times, so we came prepared with steel-toe boots and additional gear to help keep our equipment clean and dry. The weather on the coast of British Columbia can be very unpredictable, too, especially this time of year. So we shot for two days on the island, most of our time spent between 6 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 8 pm daily. On one of the days, we took a couple of shots inside their testing lab in between those time slots.
Tadd and his team found that the most logical direction would be to follow the operation of developing the limestone, which meant after the quarry the processing facilities were next.
After Texada Island, we used a day to travel to Seattle and shoot the processing facilities. The first facility was close to downtown Seattle, where the barge from Texada delivers the limestone each week. At this facility, we photographed the plant’s interior and exterior, including all facets of the limestone production: from the unloaded raw material off the barge to the final products sold to their clients. The limestone is processed into several products for the construction, agriculture, farming, and livestock business sectors.
For Tadd, most of the challenges were technical, logistical, and environmental in nature, with the detailed planning for the barge photo providing one example. Taking care of all the typical headaches pre-emptively, from transport to equipment, freed him to focus on the creative aspects during the shoot. It also allowed him to be on the same wavelength as the managers and employees at the locations, a requisite for a smooth workflow and comfortable faces on camera. The latter was essential since no models were to be hired.
The more genuine expressions often come in between conversations when I lower the camera and talk with them face to face, but I am always ready to capture it with the camera. My natural curiosity also contributes to my conversations with the subjects we shoot. I genuinely enjoy learning about the manufacturing processes and work stories these men and women share. I believe this helps with the authenticity of the final images.
Most of Tadd’s efforts may not be fully appreciated by simply looking at the final deliverables. Hours go into planning a single shot and even more time is poured into an assignment well after the last click of the shutter has passed.
Two years ago, we built an online client portal that we can customize for every client and project. The beauty of this portal is that it provides a single point of entry for a client and every shoot we’ve done for them. With one login, our clients have access to each shoot gallery. In addition, they can sort and search their portal based on the shoot date, location (city/state), shoot description, and other keywords. When we built this custom online experience, we designed it with the end client in mind and provided a much easier and more consistent way for them to access the image galleries and assets from our shoots.
Tadd’s most recent assignment with Arcosa is a case study of his thoughtfulness, care, and attention, extending well before and well after production. Breakups may be a part of life, but it doesn’t seem like Tadd’s giving his clients any reason to part ways for good. With that kind of behavior, some might say he’s a keeper.
See more of Tadd’s work on his website.
Assistant/BTS Photographer: Phillip Anderson
Pricing & Negotiating: Craig Oppenheimer
Read more about Tadd on our published blog.
Let us help you Find Photographers, source Stock Photography,
Produce Your Shoot — or just reach out to hear more!