A lot of the same rules around photography generally apply to photographing heavy equipment. Give contemplation to the framing of the shot, consider the lighting, removing obstacles and distractions from the shot, and
Own steel-toed shoes, a construction helmet, orange safety vest and safety glasses. You will need these on a construction site.
Do not walk on to a construction site without prior consent.
Be aware of construction job site conditions and safety best practices. This may mean wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE). It also may mean not taking pictures of some things that you see, because the people in the picture are not following their rules.
The two men in this photo are not wearing hard hats. I have published photos like this before and received calls from government safety agencies inquiring about the company in the photo. If the company is doing something truly unsafe, you should report it. If they are not wearing hard hats in an open field with nothing to land on their heads, just don’t photograph them. I have two extra helmets for just such an occasion.
Have a working knowledge of the equipment. This will help you determine which parts of the machine should get the most focus.
Bring a rag. Machines get dirty easily. This photo could have been better if the mirror was clean. You may also need to clean mud away from a model number or company name or clean a patch of the machine to fasten your Go-Pro camera.
When it comes down to taking photos of the equipment, think of how an end-user uses the equipment. With which parts of the machine do they interact? How do they view it? Heavy equipment is a tactile experience. How can you translate that experience through your photography? Also, when you look a the machine, what jumps out at you? What do you find interesting?
Don’t be boring. After working in heavy equipment publishing for more than a decade, I have seen a lot of boring photos (usually taken by the dealership with an iPhone with the machines positioned as they are in the yard), such as these two Manulift telehandlers. These are great machines, but no one wants to look at these photos and no one wants to buy these machines after looking at these photos. You don’t have to fit the whole machine in the shot. Consider how the second shot shows less, but creates intrigue. It grabs more attention than the previous photo.
Throw a few people in there. In both of these photos, the trucks are the center of attention, but consider how the interaction between the people and the trucks makes that photo more interesting.
Taking pictures inside the cab can be difficult because it is cramped. I recommend getting a small camera with a remote that you can suction to the inside of the windshield, and then exiting the cab to take the pictures remotely. Fasten the camera to the inside of the rear window to take photos of the controls and windshield. This is what the operator sees. Fasten the camera to the outside of the windshield to take pictures of the operator’s point of view without the windshield, which can distort the image of the environment outside of the machine.