Shooting Portraits for the Masterlift 2019 Print Calendar

In autumn 2018, I embarked on a strangely old-fashion photography assignment to shoot women perched atop industrial equipment for Masterlift Forklift 2019 print calendar.

Here is Cristen looking ‘curiously beautiful’ with the busy forklift rental business visible in the background.

Readers can avail themselves of the official story on the Masterlift blog which chronicles the creation process and shows pictures from behind the scenes. There are many shots of myself, the photographer in action.

When shooting portraits like this for industrial equipment, the machinery is usually the subject of interest and the female model is more complimentary. This pin-up style may seem out-dated, and everyone knows print calendars are near obsolete in 2019, but the whole exercise was part of a real-world web marketing initiative dreamed up by Rob Campbell of SMOJoe SEO who explains more of the rationale on his blog .

To quote his blog , “Masterlift Forklifts decided to showcase women in the workforce not for any political reasons or feminist agenda, but because they reckoned that people labouring in truck loading bays would most like to see the forklift equipment they know best being operated by female employees. It’s just more interesting.”

Here is Erin in the paint shop of Masterlift. The company employs many expert refurbishing personnel who are like artists in their dedication to the craft of renewing old lifts.
Here is Erin in the paint shop of Masterlift. The company employs many expert refurbishing personnel who are like artists in their dedication to the craft of renewing old lifts.

The idea was to take female subjects and make them look fantastic in very masculine settings and therein try to capture something Rob calls curious beauty.  To that end he set about arranging shoots at all the Masterlift rental and service clients; he asked permission to enter and photograph inside their busy locations, and by presenting twelve different locations with twelve different models + machines, he hoped to demonstrate the flexibility of the Masterlift rental business and showcase the importance and diversity of their clientele.

Masterlift’s 2019 Calendar is very practical with big boxes for each day and special occasions and holidays marked out for each month. The calendar is purpose-built for busy people, and posting this near a workstation can focus (male) staff, increase productivity and decorate an otherwise empty wall.

Just as the photographs suggest, every Masterlift forklift job site is different with unique equipment requirements. In some cases, the lifts are owned by the business and Masterlift merely services the machines, while in other locations and set-ups we showed small businesses that rent equipment. We were inside Hub Climbing’s new 30K square ft super climbing gym in Mississauga and we did the shoot at the base of their new 50 foot tall rock-climbing wall, which is among the largest in North America.

With almost six hundred working units, the Masterlift forklift rentals fleet is one of the largest and most diverse in the industrial sectors west of Toronto.  We visited ten different places they service and did two shoots at Masterlift.  We crept about inside ten different factories between Mississauga, Etobicoke and throughout Oakville and Burlington.

We shot Shannon Tebb from Shanny in the City at Rosehill Wine Cellars wood shop in Etobicoke, Raymi the Minx at Maverick Distillery in Mississauga.

Laura Bilotta, an AM 640 radio show host, posed at Dan’s Welding, a business that provides welding and custom fabrication services in Burlington since 1960.  We could see them working all around our photo shoot at the back of their 18,000-square-foot shop and the welding flashes in the photos you see are real. They’ didn’t stop or slow down or do anything special for the camera.

Maria Flo (@mariafl0) posed beside a Noble lift walkie-pallet truck at Delmare Quality Foods inside one of their industrial kitchens. This business makes world class marina sauces, chopped garlic, hummus, garlic spreads, pesto, dips and caramelized onions served at major restaurant chains across Canada.

Industrial Interior Photography – Commando Style

This is truly commando style portrait photography; there is no location scout in advance and no professional lighting team, no hair & makeup, and we worked with what we found on site and hoped for the best.

I used a Canon 5D Mark3 – 20MM 2.8 Canon wide lens and Canon 50mm 1.4 lens with an off camera flash with triggers on some shots.

Masterlift is not just an equipment dealer, they are also a forklift manufacturer that is well known for providing quality innovative products with low overall running costs. As such they have a busy shop and so we were able to use that as a backdrop for what became the cover of the calendar.