Location photo shoot for Willow Pumps

Location photo shoot for Willow Pumps

I always enjoy photographing people at work – it’s fascinating to learn about different trades and businesses and get some insight into how they operate.I also enjoy the challenge of working out the best way to show people doing their jobs, creating photos that they company can use to explain what they do to their customers.

However, I will confess to not particularly looking forward to doing this location shoot for Willow Pumps at first! The photo session took place on a rather grubby industrial estate near Swanscombe in Kent – and it was a very cold winter’s day! However, I put on my work boots and hi-vis jacket, put my hard hat in the car and headed off to Kent…

The brief was to spend a day documenting one of their teams doing some maintenance on an underground drainage pump, to provide a set of images that the company could use in brochures, on their website, and on social media.

Despite the cold it was a very interesting day (and luckily it didn’t rain!) The first thing the engineers had to do was to pump out the waste water from the drain, so as to be able to get down to the blocked pump at the bottom of the access point. After the guys got the heavy covers off the access shaft, we could see that it was full of dirty water, right up to the top.  Fortunately the pump system on the truck made short work of clearing this!

Willow Pumps workers remove a heavy steel cover from a drain access point A location photo shoot showing a Willow Pumps worker positioning a hose ready to pump waste water out of a blocked drain and into the tanker

A Willow Pumps worker positions the hose ready to pump waste water out of the blocked drain and into the tanker

Once the drain was (mostly) clear, they could see down to the bottom of the access shaft and could begin to evaluate the problem.

Willow Pumps engineers look down the inspection shaft to try and identify the source of the blockage.

Removing and cleaning the drainage pump

The pumps are attached to chains on the sidewall of the access point so they were able to haul each pump up to the surface in order to check, clean and if necessary repair it.

A Willow Pumps engineer inspects and cleans a drainage pump

Apparently what tends to happen is that the occupants of the industrial estate (who include car breakers and repair businesses) tend to chuck things down the drains that they shouldn’t – including waste oil and bits of rag – which then promptly clog up the drainage pumps! I was grateful that this was just a waste water drain and not sewage-related, by the way!

So it’s a regular job for Willow Pumps engineers to come along every few months and unblock the drainage system and make sure the pumps are operating at normal capacity.

Sometimes just pulling a pump up and unblocking it does the trick – however this time there was still a problem, so it was time for some human intervention. An essential part of the engineer’s gear is a gas detector – drains can harbour build-ups of gas which could potentially suffocate an operator.

A Willow Pumps engineer gets suited up ready to go down the access shaft and sort out the problem

A Willow Pumps engineer descends the access shaft

A Willow Pumps engineer looks up from the very bottom of the drainage access shaft

A Willow Pumps engineer emerges from the access shaft after completing his task

Engineer in hi-vis vest and hard hat smiles after completing his task

I was glad I could photograph this part of the job from the surface and didn’t have to go down there myself!

Photos at dusk

At the end of the day, we set up some photos of the pump truck, and of the engineers conferring on the progress of the job. These were the only staged pictures, everything else was “documentary”. It was necessary to stage these images as the light was fading and I needed to use my flash system. The twilight also made the shots much more dramatic!

Willow Pumps truck at twilight on an industrial estate in Swanscombe, Kent Willow Pumps engineers confer next to a drainage access point in this twilight photo

Location photo shoot for Willow Pumps

As it turned out I really enjoyed this shoot – the guys were a pleasure to work with, it was fascinating seeing the Willow engineers carrying out a task that is essential but which most of us have no idea about!

So thanks to Willow Pumps for booking me for this shoot – and if you would like some photos of your team at work, please do get in touch.

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