What opportunities are there in time-lapse photography?

Royal Albert Hall – An incredible year in the life from Hideaway Media on Vimeo.

With the onset of the digital age came a transformation in photography, both in terms of what could be done and how it could be done. Above you can see an example of a time-lapse video we captured showing a year in the life of the Royal Albert Hall, something that simply wouldn’t have been possible without new technology.

The birth of DSLR camera technology opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for time-lapse photography. The photographer could achieve much more professional results over lengthier periods of time.

Indeed, the digital age has made this possible and when new possibilities present themselves, naturally people want to capitalise. There are various ways in which time-lapse photography can be used commercially, which has opened up the way for specialist career pathways for photographers.

CONSTRUCTION

Beginning of works at the Lincolnshire Energy from Waste Facility

Construction companies in particular are commissioning time-lapse photography more and more. Time-lapse camera systems are often set up to follow entire construction projects, lasting from weeks to years. The time-lapse film that is edited together at the end of such projects can be used for a number of purposes. It gives the company a comprehensive record of the construction and can be used for marketing, PR and promotional purposes. Not only that but these videos can also be used to study work-flow, which may enable companies to analyse and improve their methods.

Here at Time-Lapse-Systems we give our clients coded access to servers where the latest images can be viewed. Some clients find this extra service invaluable as they can study their project from anywhere. This allows information to be shared with vital contacts such as architects, surveyors, sub-contractors, clients and other stakeholders. Because the images the time-lapse camera system takes are in HD (high definition), the image quality is substantially superior to anything possible from a conventional webcam. This means that crystal clear images can be seen and users can use digital zooms to see the tiniest detail of a site. The clarity and way in which the images can be manipulated all means that the time-lapse camera system can be used for not only monitoring and information sharing, but also for security purposes. You can see why such a service can be appealing to a construction company.

PROMOTION

But it’s not just construction companies which use time-lapse services commercially. Promotion and PR companies often utilise time-lapse on behalf of their clients to highlight their products or services in a particular way. Or alternatively, those companies may commission time-lapse services direct from the supplier for a whole host of reasons, both for use to show things functionally as well as aesthetically – as the effect of time-lapse is usually dramatic and eye-catching.

Companies who have commissioned time-lapse photographers include crop growers, marquee companies, concert promoters, traffic management companies, waste management companies, hot air balloon companies, work-flow management consultants, shop-fitters, car manufacturers, interior designers, shipbuilders…. the list is endless.

BROADCASTERS

One further principal source of business for the time-lapse photographer comes from broadcasters. Because time-lapse photographers are highly specialist – broadcasters do not generally have people ‘in house’ with the necessary skills to produce particularly long period time-lapse sequences. Therefore, commissions are usually sought for time-lapse specialists to photograph and produce films on any number of subjects to fulfil a broadcaster’s brief.

FILMMAKERS

Another opportunity in time-lapse is for those intrepid time-lapse specialists who travel around capturing dramatic film of a whole host of subjects and locations in order to build up their own archive and to license out the sequences to those who may be interested in stock footage.

Bike Time Lapse

Clearly there are a range of opportunities in the time-lapse photography industry, but it’s not easy.

You have to be much more than just a photographer to do the longer period time-lapse work. You have to know about software and networking as you have to monitor your camera, manage and store the often vast amounts of data, and stream this data to a client. You have to be something of an engineer to build or use a system that can function in all manner of harsh environments. You will have to have certain very practical engineering and construction skills yourself – as camera systems often need to be erected on specialist towers, or high on the sides of buildings for example and linked in to sometimes quite complex management circuitry. Plus – you’ll need to be able to edit and ideally know a little about film-making to provide a client with all that they need in all the formats they may require. Finally, you’ll need all the necessary business skills – as competition may be tough.

If you are interested in a career in time-lapse photography, consider whether you can be more than just a photographer! If so, the best place to start would be approaching a specialist time-lapse company directly. It can be a very rewarding career…but you have to be multi-skilled, hard-working and willing to travel!

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