I am an amateur photographer and have mostly done nature photography. That is easy because you can just go to a public park and take some pictures without talking to anyone.

Recently, I've been wanting to try something new. I'm interested in taking pictures of people doing different kinds of work, anything from working in an office at a computer, to blacksmithing or mining. I would love to learn how to capture photos like these:

enter image description here ©Russ Burden

enter image description here

Note: I don't want to do this for any commercial purpose, but maybe eventually a blog or something. For now it would just be fascinating.

What I'm wondering is, what is your workflow to getting access to these situations? Some situations are fairly straightforward (kinda like street photography), such as photographing people at restaurants or stores. But what about other less public situations?

Is there a standard practice? Or is it mostly based on who you know (like you have a friend who is a blacksmith and you ask them to drop by and take some photos)? Or is their a sort of documentary-ish protocol for reaching out to people you don't know and somehow making an agreement that you can come by for a day and get a tour and take some photos or something.

How does that work / how do you do that?

There are definitely a huge amount of complicated/custom situations, so not wondering about everything, mainly just in general how you accomplish this.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Ask. Then repeat. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented May 16, 2015 at 22:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To be entirely honest, I think those sample photos you've provided aren't all that great. You could do better, with some better framing. The camera angle on that blacksmith is particularly un-inventive, and the processing of that blown-out fire behind him looks messy. Check out this or this the first is more polished but second has a nice dramatic framing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 20, 2015 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


The truth is that you're not going to get very far without arranging something with someone but there may also be some other limitations other than the initial arrangement.

How to get access

  1. Phone and ask them.
  2. Ask a friend who works there to ask.
  3. Email them.


  1. Why do you want to take pictures? Someone is going to ask straight away. If it's just as a hobby, it's debatable whether someone is going to give up their time to sort this out for you and escort you around the premises.
  2. What will they get out of it? It's possible you could offer access to the images for their website or promotional media but they might want to see some previous work before-hand.
  3. Are you insured, are there any health and safety concerns? I happen to know that a lot of business will require a photographer to have at least basic public liability insurance. I also know that a lot of industrial premises require you to have had some sort of safety induction before entering the site and this is obviously another time commitment for them.

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