Marketing Communications Plan for a Photography Studio

Introduction

All types of companies require some sort of selling practice that will promote the company’s product or service and announce them to the potential group of customers. The Photography Studio business, which provides both products and services, is no exception. However, careful considerations must be made in order to successfully sell the product and all services provided to the right kind of customer.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a business process in which a company, whether it is a for-profit company or a non-for-profit organization, handles its interactions with its customers and crafts those interactions into lucrative ones, both for the organization itself and for its customers. In this process the companies build worth for their customers, and develop sturdy interactions with them that create profits for the company in the end. Marketing involves attracting new customers, developing those sturdy interactions with the customers, keeping them, and growing them. Marketing is not limited only to actual products sold; it is also applied to services.

The Photography Studio

The Photography Studio is a business that provides both a product and services, thus making it a bit more complicated than most businesses out there. The Photography Studio will be a brand new locally owned and operated business that provides local customers with products such as photography prints and photography equipment. The Photography Studio will also provide customers with photographic services such as studio photography, on location photography, photography editing and so forth.

Photo Studios and the Marketing Environment Forces

In every business and every type of company there are different outside elements that affect that company’s marketing department’s power to attract prospect clients, keep them, grow them and maintain a good relationship with them. All these elements and forces make what is called the marketing environment. In order to successfully maintain those customers and relationships, marketers must identify the elements that most affect their type of business and adapt their activities in order to prevail over such outside elements and challenges. The photography studio business is no exception to this rule, and they too have a marketing environment forces that affect their companies.

Competitors. Type the words “photo studio” into any search engine on the web and you will find more than 70,000,000 results, and probably more than 5 in your immediate local area. Almost all companies have to deal with competitors. You may think that companies only compete with lower prices, but this is not true. Companies must provide customers with a valuable product or service that gives customer a higher satisfaction than the competition. Nowadays more and more photographers are opening their own private small businesses, so larger companies must also compete for talent. Photo studios not only compete against each other, but also against increasing high quality of photo software that places professional editing capabilities at customers’ fingertips, sometimes even for free, and who can beat that price? Nowadays, the creation of new digital cameras with more automatic options and easier to use than ever, anyone can become a self-proclaimed professional photographer by just reading a manual, making for dozens of photographers who compete for wedding and senior photography customers everyday. Which brings us to our next challenge and marketing environment factor: technology.

Technological Environment. As new technology develops each year, products become obsolete, but also new products give way to new opportunities, new products and services, and opens up new markets. A long time ago starting a photography business would cost you $20,000 for only the initial equipment you needed, now anyone who can afford a $600 camera can have a shot at the photography business. Moreover, new developments in technology, such as new software capabilities and digital imaging enables customers to edit their own photos, scan them, copy them and reproduce them using at-home software and hardware such as printers. Printers nowadays can be connected to your point-and-shoot cameras and print all your photos at the touch of a button. These new technologies act also as competitors for photo studios, because the more customers can do themselves at home, the less they need the photo studio’s services. Not to mention that with the widespread use of the Internet images are easily copied and more and more people are involved in copyright infringement.

Economic Environment. You might think that economic trends affect all types of businesses, but some may be more affected than others. If the economy is good in general, then the customers will have a stronger buying power and higher spending patterns, and the opposite will be true for a bad economy. For example, if businesses are doing well they will probably have enough money to spend in advertising, which includes photography services. However, during a bad economy, the costs of advertising are usually the first to be cut back.

Target Market and Positioning of the Photo Studio

Once the Photography Studio has identified the segments it whishes to serve, it can analyze each of those segments’ appeal and select one or more market segments to serve. The Photography Studio business will have a market segmentation based on the geographical location to where the business will operate. It will also have a market segmentation based on social class, serving those customers who belong to the middle class, all the way to the upper uppers class. It will also have a market segmentation based on family life cycle, including young seniors at local high schools, singles who are engaged and about to be married, and married couples with children on the way or who already have children. Also, considering these are all special occasions, we can establish a target for behavioral variables such as special occasions like graduations, engagements, weddings, maternity, birth, holidays, and so forth.

The company will be located in a part of town where higher income families live and work, therefore targeting a specific geographical location as well as social class, which can be considered micromarketing and local marketing. The company will use a differentiated or segmented marketing in which it will create different offers for each of the family life cycles it will target. This will be the most profitable option for the company, because it will target clients located in a good neighborhood or area, clients who can afford professional photography services and clients who need photographic services to capture the special moments in their family life cycle, or special occasions.

There are plenty of photography studios out there, how can the Photography Studio business differentiate itself from other competitors? The Studio would remain competitive in regards to pricing, but would offer additional or better services. The studio would offer additional services like in-house hair, makeup and wardrobe consultations for portrait shots; the ability to immediately select and view all the shots taken and decide which ones to print and purchase; on location photography, in different locations other than the studio; the ability to view and share your portraits and experience through the company’s website; the ability to schedule, view, edit, print, share and store all your photographs on your mobile device with a unique application provided by the company; and finally extra photographic services for all photographic needs such as photo shoots, editing, special effects, restoring, printing photos, greeting cards, canvas, framing, enlargements, photo books, calendars, mugs, mouse pads, photo DVDs and videos, passport photos, and much more.

The Photography Studio positioning strategy would be a “More for More” strategy. The Studio would offer much, much more services than any other competitor out there, but it would have to charge more also for all the extra services. The Studio would offer the best quality products and the largest range of products for extra, but the prices would not exceed the customer’s capability to afford them.

The Photography Studio’s position statement would be as follows: For your busy family planning for the most important events of your lives and when you need to capture these special moments to keep and share forever, our Photo Studio is a one-stop photography solution spot for all your photographic needs where you can look your best, pick the best shots, be captured everywhere and anywhere, share the shots with anyone and take them with you wherever you go.

Photography Studios: Shopping Product with Great Product Features

The photography studio business falls under the Shopping Products category. People usually purchase photographic services less frequently than other products, like convenience products. When people purchase photographic services, they will usually compare prices, quality, speed, and style. People who consider purchasing photographic services will usually investigate and compare all the characteristics of each business to select the best one for them.

The marketing considerations that need to be made for the Photography Studio, based on its classification under Shopping Products are very simple. If prospect clients are out there comparing and contrasting all the Photo Studios in the area to select the best one, then the Photo Studio must provide deals and offers that appeal to those customers comparing each business. Marketers of photography services have to provide strong offers and deals in selected outlets, not just everywhere, but where it matters.

The most important decisions to be made in developing a Photography Studio Business compared to other competitors will be in the areas of Product and Service Attributes. More specifically, the Photography Studio would concentrate in providing exceptional Product Features. The best way to compete with other businesses is to be the first of those businesses to offer a new feature. The Photography Studio in question will offer plenty of new, improved and added features to all photographic services that it will make them the first choice for prospect clients.

The Photo Studio and the Pricing Dilemma

There are three main areas that will affect the pricing strategy of the Photo Studio’s products and services. These main areas are the customer’s perception of the value, the product cost and other internal and external considerations. The customer’s perception of the value of the products and services that the Photo Studio offers is what will determine the highest prices that the Photo Studio could charge for such products and services. This means that whatever amount the customers perceives as too much for the product or service that they are receiving then that is the amount art the very top that the Photo Studio should charge below of, otherwise, the customers will not purchase the service.  The product cost is all the combined expenses that the Photo Studio needs to spend in order to provide a product or service. The Photo Studio should not charge below this amount. For example, if the photo studio hires a photographer to take pictures at a high school graduation, and then all the images are printed and provided to the class on a CD, then the Photo Studio must calculate the amount they are spending on the photographer’s services, the printing cost and the cost of the CD, and they should charge the high-school more than this amount.

But these are not the only areas that the Photo Studio should consider when setting prices. The Studio should also consider external factors like competitor’s prices for example. Because clients may chose the competition over the Photo Studio, if their prices are set too high, and the competition is offering the same service and quality. The Photo Studio should also consider their previously decided target market and positioning.  Since the target market for this Photo Studio was higher income families, then the prices could be higher than the competitor’s. Since the positioning for this Photo Studio was a “More for More” strategy, then the prices would definitely be higher than the competition.

This particular Photo Studio is targeted to higher income families; therefore it makes sense to use a pricing method that would be on the higher end of the pricing curves. This Photo Studio will use the value-base pricing method to set prices for the products and services that they offer. Price setting will begin by understanding the prospect customers’ needs and value perceptions, what are they paying and what are they receiving from competitors. A price then is set that matches the customer’s perceived value. Then costs that can be incurred must be determined and finally the products that will deliver the value at the target price must be designed.

More specifically the Photo Studio in question will use the value-added pricing method. Since the positioning is one of “More-for-More”, then the Photo Studio will create value-added features to the products and services it offers to differentiate it from the competitors and sustain the higher prices.

Distribution Channels

In a Photo Studio that offers a one-stop for all photographic needs, then the customer should feel no need for other intermediaries in the process of receiving their products and services from the Photo Studio. Therefore, this company will sell directly to the consumer.

Since the Photo Studio will implement a direct marketing channel, there will only be two members in the channel, the Photo Studio and the final consumer. This could be considered exclusive distribution, because only the Photo Studio, and perhaps any franchise owners and other locations of the store would have the right to distribute the company’s products and services. The Photo Studio will employ their own sales representatives, their own photographers in studio and on location, they will be prepared with all equipment necessary to manage, print and edit all images for the customers. Therefore, there will be no need for any other intermediary or member of the channel.

The channel organization of the direct marketing channel is pretty simple, because it only involves the Photo Studio and the final customer. However, the Photo Studio could engage in several other channel organizations. A good example would be to create a horizontal marketing system with companies that provide yearbook creations to local high schools. In such channel organization, the Photo Studio could join forces with a local printing company who provides such services and be the main photography studio to provide photography services to high schools that need to take pictures to include in their yearbooks.

Another option could be to partake in a multichannel distribution system in which the Photo Studio can create or develop more marketing channels to reach other customer segments. For example, the company could create on marketing channel for all high school potential customers, another marketing channel for all wedding customers, and yet another channel for maternity and birth customers. This will enable the company to further specify the different options, offers and services that they can provide for each customer segment.

The Marketing Communications Mix of the Photo Studio

After analyzing the marketing environment forces that impact the Photo Studio, positioning the company, selecting the target market, identifying the type of product and service that the company is providing, pricing those products and services, and selecting a proper distribution channel, the last step, and probably the most important one would be to select the proper marketing communications mix to persuade customers and inform them about the Photo Studio.

Overview. There are more than plenty promotion tools for the Photo Studio to take advantage of and use to persuade and inform customer about the products and services that it offers. These tools include advertising, sales promotions, personal selling, public relations and direct marketing. The Photo Studio will not engage in mass marketing, but rather develop a focused marketing program to better create a stronger relationship with its customers. But using so many tools to create a more customized marketing strategy can pose some difficulties and the Photo Studio should always keep a clear and consistent message throughout all the tools, in order to have a successful integrated marketing communications mix.

Promotion Mix Strategy. The Photo Studio will focus a large portion of its marketing efforts in advertising, even though it can be very expensive. The Photo Studio will also offer a large amount of sales promotions. However, the Photo Studio will focus less on direct marketing, personal selling and public relations. The Photo Studio will use a pull strategy, because it will focus mainly in advertising and consumer promotions to attract customers.

The Message. The message that will be informed to the Photo Studio’s target market across all the promotional tools chosen will be a clear and consistent message. This Photo Studio is for high-income customers that have busy lives and want to look their best; therefore the studio’s message should reflect this benefit. The message will be a clear and simple statement as follows:

“Busy? Let us take the picture. We’ll make you look good”.

Advertisement. Advertisement was chosen as the main promotional tool for the Photo Studio because it will allow the company to reach all potential customers in the local area by being exposed to them in many several ways. It will also help the Photo Studio to become locally known and the message widely spread. The Photo Studio will use advertising in the forms of local TV ads, to constantly inform the locals about the studio. Listings in local yellow pages would allow for potential customers looking for photographic services to find us. Flyers and brochures in local schools would serve for seniors to consider the company for their senior studio shots. Local events magazines that advertise wedding locations will also advertise the Photo Studio as the place to go for your wedding photography needs.

Sales Promotion. Sales promotions will be offers to potential customers so that they are enticed to book a photo shoot and buy prints from the Photo Studio as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the deals being offered. This promotional tool will be used because it will entice and attract customers. Deals such as referring a friend could be offered to seniors at the local high school so more customers from the same high school would choose our Photo Studio over the others because they can receive a discount by referring their friends. Discounts can also be offered to couples that are engaged and taking their engagement pictures and sign a contract to also book the Photo Studio for their wedding pictures. Discounts can also be offered to customers who print their photos at the Photo Studio and offering discounts with more quantities of prints provided.

Direct Marketing. The Photo Studio chose direct marketing, because once it has a database of all past and prospect customers, the company will be able to send customized and immediate messages to those clients. For example, the Photo Studio can choose only a portion of the database, those interested or who previously purchased engagement photo shots, and offer 10% discount on wedding photography. This will be conveniently done by the Photo Studio by using a computer based database that would classify customers by their different interest, age group and such, in order to send specific mass e-mails and newsletters to those customers who would most likely be interested in the offers the studio is presenting. The best part is that it would pose no major expenses by the company to create such marketing promotions.

Conclusion

If the Photo Studio is prepared, it creates and follows a good marketing communications plan, then most likely the studio will be successful in attracting, keeping and growing the customers and clients it provides services too. However, the Photo Studio should always pay attention to the changes in the environment forces affecting the marketing strategy in order to adapt it to those changes and continue to have a good marketing communications plan.

The Four P’s of Freelance Photography

Category:Wikipedia requested photographs of ph...

Image via Wikipedia

Photography has been around since 1839, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Ever since, people have used cameras to photograph a variety of subjects and keep the photographs as a memento or even as evidence. Technology has advanced ever since the Kodak Company introduced the first consumer camera in the late 1800s. Nowadays even the most inexperienced photographer can take an incredible photo with the use of a digital camera. However, some people and firms have the need to hire a professional photographer to capture the memorable moments of a specific event, firm, product or incident.

The services that a photographer provides include, but are not limited to photographing weddings, birthday parties, company events, company products, company facilities, incriminating evidence, model portfolios, developing news around the community and so forth. A photographer can be hired on a one-time basis or to cover a recurring event. Every photographer must consider their marketing environment, and create a good marketing plan in order to have a successful business as a freelance photographer.

Leica M4 with Summicron 50mm f/2 and gogles fo...

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Product and Services of a Freelance Photographer

Freelance photographers can offer their services as a product, but they can also offer the images themselves as an end product, which can be considered a consumer good. Photographers can sell their services for an hourly fee, meaning they can charge the customers a previously discussed amount of dollars for every hour that they provide photographic services. This can include the amount of time spent actually taking pictures at a particular event, but it can also include the amount of time spent digitally editing and enhancing the images once the event is over. Moreover, the photographer can charge a separate fee for the amount of photos – the product it self – that the customer wishes to receive, and he can charge different fees for the manner in which the customer whishes to receive the images, whether it is digitally or a printed copy of each individual image.

Photographers must constantly be aware of their competitive environment, when deciding what products to offer. They might have to consider the factor of change when conceiving and developing the list of products and services they provide. Everyday there is a brand new technology, especially when it comes to digital cameras. Photographers may have to constantly be upgrading their equipment in order to provide higher quality, and higher resolution images to their customers and keep up with the competition. They might also have to consider changing the existing products to meet consumers’ needs and keep pace with competitors. If other photographers offer higher quality images or better packages, including both digital and hard copies or makeup and wardrobe assistance, the photographer may have implement product differentiation to change or expand the products and services he offers or promote a particular feature or image to make his products and services differ enough from other competitors and to attract customers. For example, a photographer may include an extra copy of the digital images in case the customer looses their first copy, or have them displayed on the photographer’s business website before printing the hard copies so that the customer can choose which ones they wish to print.

The Pricing of Freelance Photography

After a freelance photographer decides what kind of services and products he wishes to provide for customers, he has to decide the amount of money he wants to charge customers for those products and services. As we discussed before, photographic services have been around for a long period of time, freelance photographers have to consider that they are pricing an existing service and product. When making the pricing decision, photographers will have three choices; pricing above market prices, pricing below market prices or pricing near or at existing market prices. A photographer who is new in the freelance photography business may decide to price above the market prices to cover the initial cost of equipment such as cameras, flashes and computers, marketing and so forth. An already established photographer, who already owns all the equipment necessary, and is a well know photographer with great references, may wish to price near or even below market prices to have a competitive advantage between other photographers.

Photographers can be creative when pricing their products and services. They can combine both into packages and offer extra features for free with little or no cost to the photographer. For example, a photographer may offer a CD including all the images to the customer, but he may charge a fee for the CD. A better offer could be providing the customer with temporary access to a website location on the Internet to retrieve the images for free.

Whichever price the photographer sets his services and products to, he must make sure that he will make a profit, but also that customers will be willing to pay those prices for the products and services he offers. His products must meet the clients’ requirements, needs and wants.

The compact disc

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The Placement/Distribution of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Freelance Photographers deal with little distribution problems. Most of the services and products they provide have no intermediaries, because customers hire the photographer and their services directly. Therefore, the freelance photographic services uses mostly the first channel of distribution, direct distribution, which goes from the producer – the photographer – to the end users – the client or customer –. Photographers however, do use physical distribution to deliver the end products (or images) to their customers. If the customers wish to have digital images only, the photographer may use high-speed digital transmission, such as e-mail or website downloads. If the customers decide they wish to have hard copies of their images, the photographer can personally deliver the images or send them by mail. Distribution can also be used as a marketing strategy. Photographers can offer fast distribution via high-speed digital transmission as one of the features of their products and services, to have an advantage over the competition.

The Promotion of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Promotion is the most important component of the marketing mix; and it is the most visible as well. This is advantageous to photographers because their products are all about visual communication; in fact, their products help other firms sell their products by providing a visual representation of them.

When making decisions regarding the best way to promote their products and services, photographers must be aware of whom they want their target audience to be. If a photographer does not possess experience with wedding photography for example, then they may not want to advertise their services to that particular audience.

Photographers must use all elements of the promotional mix to attract the biggest amount of potential customers, because a freelance photographer has to compete with bigger more established companies offering photographic services. Photographers should advertise their services and products in the media, through networking, offering sales promotions and creating publicity for themselves.

One advertising avenue that photographers should consider, due to the nature of their products, is the digital media avenue. Advertising themselves through e-mails, e-mail campaigns and newsletters, websites, newspaper ads, magazines, and direct mail. There is a growing opportunity in advertising inside social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, photographers should take advantage and post their ads in such sites.

Are You Ready?

In conclusion, whether you are an experienced photographer or you are just starting in the business of freelance photography, you must remember to clearly identify all the products and services you wish to offer to potential customers. You must then price your products and services to create an advantage over the competition, but remembering you must make a profit as well. You should decide in which ways you would distribute your products to your customers. And finally you should advertise you self, your products and your services in a way that makes you stand out and differentiate between your competitors.

Large Family Photo Shoot (Tips & Ideas)

One of the most difficult photo shoots are the ones where you have a large group of people, like a large family photo shoot.   As the photographer, not only do you have to be assertive and control everyone involved, but you also have to make sure everyone looks great in one single shot.   Unless you plan to spend hours in Photoshop and select everyone’s perfect shot and compile it into one.
The first time I had to take a large family photo shoot, I was a bit nervous at first, but I realized the best way to deal with that was to have fun.   Have fun with the family.   I had to take a photo shoot of a family of 6 adults and 3 kids, for a total of 9 people.   Adults are easy, but mixing in the children into the large family photos it’s a bit tricky.   You have to get them to look at you, all of them, at the same time.   The adults will try to help you when it comes to making the children look at the camera and smile, but by doing that THEY will end up being the ones not looking at the camera.  It is tougher with younger children, but if I could do it, so can you!

So here are a couple of tips and ideas for your own family photo shoot, whether you are the photographer or the family.

Color Coordinated Clothing

Color Coordinated Clothing

Clothing

The most important tip I always give my photography clients before I photograph them is to color coordinate their outfits.   The second tip, is don’t dress in white! Having a color-coordinated family looks cute, and also makes everyone in the photo look like they belong together, as a cohesive family unit.   But you don’t have to look boring or too similar.   You can create a cohesive look by deciding a color scheme first.   You can base your color scheme on the seasons, the location of the photo shoot, the family’s favorite sports team, fashion trends, or even a family inside joke.   Usually casual styles are better, and jeans are a favorite so everyone is comfortable.   However, you can always go more formal for some Holiday photos or studio shots that will probably end up on your Family Holiday Greeting Cards.   Just make sure you all follow the same style, whether it is casual or formal.   You don’t all have to wear jeans and a green shirt.   If your color scheme is green and blue, then girls can wear green skirts and a blue shirt, and guys can wear jeans and a green shirt.   Also play with layers, a sweater over a shirt, a scarf, etc.   Matching everyone’s outfit doesn’t mean the same shirt and pants for everyone, but the same colors over all, in different pieces of clothing.   Different shades of the same color are good too.   For these large groups it’s good to stay away from too much patterns.   It is best to select pieces that are solid colors and that don’t have distinctive words, like the brand’s logo on them.   Remember that your shoes will show in some pictures, so make sure they match your outfit!

Different Levels

Different Levels

Posing

Great family photos usually feel like everyone in the picture loves each other and are happy.   But we all know that is usually not the case in real life.   Setting up the family in a pose to create the “Perfect Family” photo might be difficult.   Different heights, age, hair color, couples, kids, and clothing can help you decide how to place each person in the picture.   The tallest people behind the shortest people, the kids in the middle, the oldest in the middle, each couple on a different area.   All of these are good possibilities, but a bit overdone.   Think outside the box, group people in two’s or three’s and compose the larger group with those smaller groups, and even separate each group in a different level, one group behind another, or on a step above or sitting down below.   However, make sure to “angle” everyone, meaning don’t line everyone up one next to another with their shoulders touching each other’s.   Make sure they stand at an angle so their shoulders overlap instead.   Also, make sure they don’t tilt their heads towards the person next to them; people tend to do that when taking pictures.   You can also split the group up and take a moment to take some shots of each individual section of the family, like only the kids, or only the grandparents, or only the couples.   Also remember to take Candid photos.   While the family is repositioning, moving to another location, taking a break, keep taking pictures and catch them when they are not looking.

Beware of Funny Faces :)

Beware of Funny Faces 🙂

Taking the photos

Make sure you adjust all your camera settings before you begin shooting.   If you are not sure about a certain pose, or background, test it with the adults first, and then include the kids when you are ready, so they don’t get restless while you are taking the shots.   Make sure all the subjects are lit in the same manner, so that you don’t have some people in the shade and others in the sun.   Focus on the person in the middle, or right next to it.   Make sure you continue shooting even if everyone is moving or changing places, you might miss out on something fun.   However, make sure you continue to check your photos after you move on to a different pose or location, and check to make sure no one blinked or made funny faces.

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

More Tips

Always check the weather!!!
– You might need some shade for the children while they wait, so bring an umbrella.
– Bring a toy or something that usually catches the kids’ attention, so you can get them to look at the camera.
– Ask your clients to think of different poses that they would like and to practice them. Also, if they have a sample of something they want, they should give it to you. Like if they want a particular pose they’ve seen somewhere else, or if they want a particular toy or thing in the picture.
– Let your clients know that if you keep shooting pics when they are not really posing, not to be caught off-guard, sometimes the best pics are the ones where they are not posing.

Unexpected Angles & Poses

Unexpected Angles & Poses

*Special thank you to the beautiful Hunt Family for allowing me to share their large family photo-shoot with the world 🙂

What font is this?

What Font Is This?

What Font Is This?

Don’t know? No problem! Continuing with the “There’s an App for that” theme, here’s another great app for graphic designers.   It is appropriately called “What The Font?” and it is a great free and easy way to find the name of a particular font.   The guys from MyFonts.com are geniuses! I wish this app were around when I was just starting as a Graphic Designer, but I’m glad it’s here now.

I initially had found it by browsing for design apps for my iPhone, but as it turns out they have a website.   So if you don’t have an iPhone or another Smartphone, you can still use this awesome app online at What The Font.

What The Font

What The Font

What you do is grab an image (online) or take a photo of the font you want to know the name of, upload it, determine the characters, and BAM! They tell you what font it is.

Ok, ok… sometimes it doesn’t work quite as easy, but then you just leave a request for the font and someone eventually helps you find the name for it (you need to sign in for this, but hey! it’s FREE!).

The great thing about this is that the more people upload images and the more fonts are recognized, the easier it will be for others to recognize fonts through the automatic process.   It is a great tool and community to use and be a part of if you are a graphic designer, or if you simply want to know the name of a particular font.

Here is a little video on how to find the name of a font. You can download the first image on this post and try it out yourself! (No Audio)

 

How to Find the Name of a FONT, Using What The Font from My Font

Kuler Colors

Nowadays we can do just about anything thanks to technology.   The new answer to all of life’s intriguing questions is: “There’s an App for that”.   For all of us in the creative fields, this is good news and bad news.   This means that we will be forever learning throughout our careers.   A new Adobe Creative Suite, a new Smartphone that needs user interfaces designed, a new app, you name it.   However, this is great for us, because these updates, upgrades and apps can also make our job easier.

One of these cool tools we can benefit from is the Adobe Kuler color tool.   It is a FREE, yes, FREE online application that lets you create, share and explore different color themes.   This is great for us designers that sometimes have “color block”, and we can’t decide on a color scheme for a project.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

The website is very simple to use.   You first go to http://kuler.adobe.com/, and simply begin exploring color options.   You can search a color theme by keyword, you can look at the newest, most popular, highest rated, or randomly.   You can create an account and upload your color themes.   You can make changes to a theme, select one color from the theme, select a rule like analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound, shades or even custom to find other colors for the one you have selected.   You can look at the RGB, CMYK, LAB or even HEX values for a particular color.   You can even create your own new theme using your own photos as a reference.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

You can benefit from this great tool if you are a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, fashion designer, interior designer, makeup artist, stylist, scrapbooker, cake decorator, painter, or any other person who at some point in their life has to pick a color combination for whatever reason.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

Marketing & Stereotypes: The Abercrombie & Fitch Story

Nowadays it is human nature to attempt to classify people, products and brands into different stereotypes.  A stereotype is a standard classification that individuals commonly classify other people, products and brands.  People are stereotyped because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and even the types of products they buy and clothes they wear.  Stereotyping is not something that should be practiced, because it is wrong to assume an individual’s personality or beliefs based on their looks, clothes or products they purchase.  Even though stereotyping is not something highly recommended by society, people still stereotype other people based on such shallow observations.  One example of stereotyping based on clothes is the stereotype or label of “Preppy”, “Preppie” or “Prep” given to individuals who wear clothes sold by stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and American Eagle.

The word “preppy” actually came about in the 1950’s, and it derived from “preparatory schools”.  The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or WASP term was highly associated with the term “preppy”.  The WASP community was mostly high-class individuals who attended such prestigious schools and dressed in a laid-back, yet luxurious clothing of brands such as Lacoste and Lilly Pulitzer.   This style was then re-launched by stores like Abercrombie & Fitch in a more affordable price for teenagers of modern days that belong to the middle and higher social classes.  The preppy kids back in the 1950’s where actually members of high-class societies, went to Ivy League colleges and universities and private preparatory schools, they owed yachts and boats, and could afford expensive taste such as Ralph Lauren.  The preppy kids nowadays do not form part of such high-class and do not own expensive boats or attend prestigious colleges and schools, but they can afford to look like they belong to the same high-class as the 1950’s preppy kids because of stores like Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie and fitch Paris summer 2011 advert...

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

Abercrombie & Fitch Users and Stereotypes

I do believe that users and consumers of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing identify with the “preppy” stereotype.  The Abercrombie & Fitch crowds are labeled by others as “preppy”, and they do not consider this an insult, but instead a compliment.  “Preppy” kids are usually the popular kids in high schools who are concerned with looks, popularity and material possessions.  Even though some of them do not belong to high social class, they like thinking that they look that way.  The reality is that Abercrombie & Fitch is not actually a real “preppy” store, because they are not as expensive as the real “preppy” clothes like Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.  However, the style does look like the more expensive stores.

Abercrombie and fitch Paris summer 2011 advert...

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

Stereotypes and Sales

The “preppy” stereotype helps Abercrombie & Fitch sales.  Mainly because most middle-class teenagers who wish to belong in the popular group may not be able to afford the real expensive “preppy” brands like Lacoste.  Therefore, they will choose to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch because the clothing looks like the more expensive clothing and has the same “preppy” style, but it is much more affordable for teenage kids with a middle-class allowance.  The more they wish to fit in to the popular crowd the more clothing they will buy from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch.  The “preppy wannabe” crowd purchase clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch basically because of the way it makes them feel.  The clothing makes them feel like they belong in the “preppy” crowd.

The image of Abercrombie & Fitch today.

Image via Wikipedia

Stereotypes in the Advertising Campaigns

The Abercrombie & Fitch advertising campaigns most definitely intentionally designed to target the “preppy” and “preppy wannabe” crowds.  If we look at their advertisement and images placed throughout their stores we can appreciate the intent of the ads through their design, and specifically the scale of the photographs being displayed at each store.  Most of their advertisement feature clean-shaved, clean-cut, muscular, slim body, Caucasian, good-looking people.  These are the typical characteristics that fit the “preppy” individuals.  Another major effort from this company to keep the advertisement targeted at “preppy” teenagers is the fact that they hire people who fit into this stereotype to work in their stores.  There have even been lawsuits against the company because they would not hire a Muslim individual, according to her, because of her headscarf.  There was another case of another teenager who claimed they would not let her work outside of the back storage of an Abercrombie and Fitch store because of her prosthetic arm.

1,000 Visits

Thank you! Today, October 19th, 2011, I have reached 1,000 Visits on this blog.   I am honored!   I wished I could thank visitors personally, but I have no way of knowing who they are.   Either way, as a special thank you for visiting my blog I have decided to write this post and leave an open thread for any special Design, Photo, Apple or even Geeky Request or Questions.   So go ahead, ask and you shall receive!

Thanks again!

More Tips on Creating a Portfolio and Presenting It

Professionals whose occupation involves creative designs such as artists, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers and interior designers, should have their personal portfolio.   A good portfolio presents quality not quantity.   As time passes, designers should also update their portfolios, and some pieces should be re-vamped as needed.   A portfolio can determine your employment or lack of, because some companies do not even schedule an interview without first looking at portfolio submissions.   Your portfolio is then, the first impression.   Therefore, as creative professionals, we must learn what makes a good portfolio.

Not only does a designer’s portfolio should speak for itself, but it should also represent the designer’s style in the design of the actual portfolio.   This is also true for the designer’s resume, letterhead, business card, and even the envelope.   If you are unable to create a successful visual identity for yourself, then how could you do so for a client?   This is also true for your entire appearance during an interview, the way you present yourself, and most importantly, the way you present your portfolio.   A prospect client or employer will begin to evaluate you from the moment you first make contact, whether it is in person, by e-mail, by phone, or with a cover letter.

Design Conventions of A Portfolio Presentation

What to consider:

Labels.   Each piece should provide sufficient information about itself.   A title, a description, and the software you used to accomplish the piece.   Reference, if necessary, of elements used in the piece that you did not create yourself.   You do not want to take credit or something you did not do.  However, as a rule, is best to have pieces that you created entirely by yourself, than pieces you created by collaborating with other designers, or pieces that use stock images or illustrations.

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Tailoring and Interchangeability.   As a designer, you will probably go to several interviews before you find your first job.   Having a portfolio that lets you easily change one piece for another is key to tailor each portfolio presentation to the job you are applying for.   For example, if you apply for a company looking for an in-house graphic designer to create all their advertising graphics, you could switch a logo design for an ad.   Or if you are applying for a company that specializes in designing logos for companies, you can add a couple more logo designs and take out some photography editing examples.   If you were applying for a photography job at a studio, more family, children and baby shots as well as headshots would be good.   If you were applying for a job as a stock photographer, photos of objects, landscapes, animals and business subjects would be best.

Various Formats.   You never know what kind of time does your prospect employer devote to looking through countless applications and portfolios.   Why not make it easier for them by providing a link to your website with your portfolio on it, or a CD/DVD presentation.   You could always bring your classic portfolio with you if you happen to get an interview, or leave behind a CD/DVD copy or a business card with a link for them to be able to view your portfolio again at their convenience.

Prepare to Present/Explain.   If you have a great portfolio, but you don’t know how to talk about each piece and explain it, then you might as well have no portfolio at all.   Be prepared and practice to talk about each piece and answer any questions that may come up.

Follow up.   Don’t just drop of your resume and portfolio and expect it to do all the work for you.   Make sure you keep in touch and even if you don’t get the job, show appreciation for the opportunity and make sure you are kept on their records for future reference.

Update.   Technology is always changing and innovations keep coming up.   Maybe 10 years ago you couldn’t add a drop-shadow to your text, but now you can.   Update your portfolio with new pieces and re-vamp the ones you created a long time ago.   Keeping your portfolio fresh can show that you are up-to-date with the newest trends and technology.
The actual design of your portfolio.   Some designers get carried away by “designing” their portfolios.   They add background, animations, bells and whistles, things you really don’t need.   Remember to keep it simple and don’t let the actual design of your portfolio overshadow each piece inside your portfolio.

Work Selection and Sequence:

Quality vs. Quantity.   It is not about how many pieces you have; it is about the quality of each piece.   A portfolio should have between 20 to 40 pieces at the most.   An employer could get lost in all the pieces, and they probably do not even have the time to view them all.   You have to select pieces that are strong.   Don’t select pieces that you are not confident about.

Strong Start/Finish.   Several websites and individuals recommend that your strongest pieces are located at the beginning and at the end of your portfolio.   This way, when a possible employer opens up your portfolio, they are immediately impressed, and when they get to the end, they will remember you.

Location, location, location.   The order in which you “locate” your pieces is crucial.   Each piece should follow the other with some kind of connection, whether it is chronological, by theme or any other connection.   This will make it easier to transition from one piece to another and make it easier for you to be able to talk about them in person and explain the relation.

Websites  to visit:

http://www.howdesign.com/article/PortfolioPresentation/

http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/portfolio-presenting

http://www.designertoday.com/Articles/3940/Portfolio.Making.Your.Best.Presentation.aspx

http://www.youthedesigner.com/2008/06/30/12-steps-to-a-super-graphic-design-portfolio/

http://veen.com/jeff/archives/000935.html

http://layersmagazine.com/the-dos-and-don%E2%80%99ts-of-portfolio-presentation.html

http://biznik.com/articles/ten-or-11-tips-for-presenting-your-portfolio

Tips on Creating an Online Portfolio

A graphic designer or photographer fresh out of college will probably have to attend several interviews before landing a first job.  Interviewing and presenting a portfolio face-to-face can be nerve wrecking and stressful because it is difficult to talk about one’s own work, but if you attend an interview and take your portfolio with you, you can make sure that your portfolio is reviewed by the potential employer.  Having an e-portfolio, on the other hand, does not ensure that potential clients and employers will magically come across your portfolio and hire you.  Advertising and marketing your e-portfolio is a very important task that should not be left aside.  If you want your e-portfolio to land you a great job or a few freelance jobs, then you must advertise and market your e-portfolio. Lets look at some ideas to successfully advertise and market e-portfolios.

Fresh Site

In order to create and keep a site fresh, the design must remain simple, and easy to read and to navigate.  According to Steve Krug (I recommend his book), the first law of web usability, or the ease of using and navigating a website is to not make your audience think (2006).  This means that a well designed website should be obvious, self-evident, and self-explanatory.  This way the readers and viewers of the website don’t have to feel like they are solving a riddle just to check out your portfolio.  Chances are that if the viewer of a website has to make more than three clicks to get where they want to get, they will not continue to view the website and most likely they will move on.  Clogging website with a lot of text, animations and images will make a site look busy instead of fresh.  Therefore instead of adding something to keep the site fresh, the key is to keep it simple, neat and organized.

Interactivity

When visitors enter a website there are several different ways they could interact with the website.  In a good e-portfolio website there should be a good amount of interactivity with the reader.  The e-portfolio should be designed in a way in which the viewer may chose to play a slideshow of all the pieces in the portfolio, and also skip images and go back and re-visit images that caught their attention.  Therefore, a good interactive portfolio would have play buttons, pause buttons, stop buttons, forward and backward buttons, as well as a thumbnail for each piece in the portfolio.  This way the user may navigate the portfolio in any order he or she wishes making the experience of viewing the portfolio almost the same as viewing a traditional printed portfolio.

Standing Out

Usually, people tend to think that in order to stand out one should include as much text, animation and images as possible.  However, this would most likely make a website very difficult to read and navigate through.  A great way to stand out would be to think about three characteristics that describe you as a designer, for example: Straightforward, Reliable, and Inspired.  Then, your e-portfolio and website should attempt to express those characteristics and remain within the same theme of your resume, logo and promotional piece.  For example, since one of the characteristics is straightforward, then the website should not have mystery passageways to get to the point, but all the main points and information should be clearly and legibly displayed.

Attracting Visitors

Once the fresh, interactive and attention-grabbing website is in place, the next step would be to attract traffic to the website.  The first step would be to include your domain name, like http://www.johndoe.com on your e-mail signature, your letterhead, business cards and even your resume. You should also include it both as text and as a link in your promotional materials, like a web banner.  Nowadays, there are a wide variety of free ways to promote your web on the Internet.  You can create a newsletter and advertise your newly launched web to all your contacts and ask for them to forward the information to their contacts.   Just be sure not to spam your friends’ inboxes.   You can create a professional account for your business on many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, and MySpace.  You may even create ads that circulate on those social networking sites promoting your business.  When you design websites for other companies you can place your name and website as the web designer of that page at the very bottom, with their permission of course.  In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to advertise one’s website on the web.

Good Examples

Search for other designers or photographers’ portfolios online and see what they are doing.   Lissete Rodriguez’ portfolio retrieved from Dexigner.com (http://www.zetdesigns.com/) stood out from the rest because it was fresh and simple.  She included interactivity on her web portfolio by adding rollover animations and a slideshow of her pieces.  However, even though her web included slideshows and animations, it did not distract the viewer from her work.

Lissete Rodriguez's Online Portfolio

Lissete Rodriguez's Online Portfolio

Joe Nyaggah’s portfolio retrieved from Graphicdesignblog.com (http://danjoedesign.com/) was also very minimalistic and simple in its design, which kept the site fresh. He included some rollover effects for interactivity, however, it was lacking on that function.  Perhaps his portfolio should have been presented in a slideshow manner with buttons for easier navigation.

Joe Nyaggah’s Online Portfolio

Joe Nyaggah’s Online Portfolio

Free Online Web Portfolios

There are some relatively new websites out there that have a designer network and free (for the most part) online portfolios.   These are a great way to start if you don’t really know anything about web design and development, because mostly all you have to do is upload your images and input your information.   So if you use Facebook, you can use these:

http://prosite.com/

http://www.pixpa.com/

http://carbonmade.com/

http://www.behance.net/

http://cargocollective.com/

http://www.squarespace.com/

http://www.thecreativefinder.com/

References

Krug, S. (2006). Don’t make me think! A common sense approach to web usability (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Working with Clients

If you have already worked as a Graphic Designer, either as a freelancer or within a company, you already know the difficulties you may face with certain clients.   Like in any other career field, you have a client, and a product or service you provide.   Sometimes what the client expects or thinks about that product or service, is not actually what the company or freelancer offers.   The most important step is to know everything about a project from the very beginning.   Also, having constant communication with the client will help with the success of the final product, service or design.

Final Say

As graphic designers a client generally approaches us with a design problem, and we are required to find a solution.   The client is the person who ultimately has the final say on what the product should look like and how it should work, based on their own knowledge of the target audience they are trying to convey a message to.   As a graphic designer, you should approach the situation as if you where part of that target audience.   The reason is so that you can advise your client on what is the best way to reach their target audience in terms of a good design.

For example, if a client comes to you and asks for a flyer to advertise their online business like an online only shoe retailer, you may suggest that an e-mail advertisement would be best to reach their target audience (clients already using the internet, and on their client database).   However, your suggestion may be ignored and the client could still decide to go with the printed flyer.   Your job as a designer is to design the flyer and that’s it.   If they did not agree with your suggestion, then you should provide what they are requesting from you.

Freedoms

The freedoms you have, as a designer in the process, will depend on each project.   Some clients may have no idea what they want their design to look like, and they may tell you to come up with something on your own, and that you may choose colors and everything, so you have a lot of creative freedoms with those clients.   Some other clients know exactly what they want and what they want it to look like, and they would even do it themselves if they knew how to use the software, so you may have very limited freedoms with those types of clients.   Some clients know more or less what they want, but they need your design expertise to guide them when choosing design elements, typefaces and colors, so you have some limitations and some freedoms with those types of clients.   You are most definitely allowed to refuse providing services to certain clients, before beginning to work with them, if what they are trying to create is illegal, or against your beliefs, morals or religion.   But you must do so respectfully to their needs, or perhaps suggest a different designer that you know can help with their situation.

Steps to Follow

As a graphic designer, you must plan on taking several steps to assess the situation and the perceived tasks ahead to rectify the situation.   First and foremost, you should analyze each project individually to make sure that the project’s extent is within your technical capabilities.   Second, you should ensure that you have all the information from the client about the project.   Third, you should provide the client with the proper documentation about the project (design brief) and come to a written agreement about the course of action with the client, including the amount of “changes” allowed and charges that go along with those changes.   Finally, you should provide a summary after the work was completed to show the client how the design solution successfully solves the design problem.

Ethical Issues in the Graphic Design Business

During our careers, whether as graphic designers, web designers, fashion designers or any other career, we will most likely have to learn about ethics in the workplace.  Ethics do not only play a role in our normal day-to-day activities, such as attending a wedding, tipping our waiters and receiving guests in our home, ethics also are a part of our business life.  There are several ethical issues that can arise in the workplace, no matter the type of work.  Ethical issues are subjects or events that could create questions about what is right and what is wrong.  Even though there are many ethical issues that could rise in all types of jobs, there are also ethical issues that could rise in jobs that are only related to design.

Ethical Issues in Graphic Design

A Graphic Designer, especially a Freelance Graphic Designer, encounters numerous of different people and companies that they will probably do design work for.  However, the graphic designer may or may not agree with what that particular company or individual stands for or wishes to advertise.  This raises a question of right or wrong, an ethical issue, for the designer.  Graphic designers should know from early on in their career who would they not design for and who would they design for, keeping in mind that what a graphic designer creates is a message for an audience.   For example, would you create campaign posters for a politician who approves of abortion; would you create a logo for a rock band that believes in and follows the devil’s teachings; would you create a package design for a company that sells cigarette shaped candy to children; or would you create a website for a pornographic site.  The decision will always be up to the graphic designer and will most likely depend on his or her own morals and belief system.  Ultimately, if a designer does not agree with it, then he or she should not take on the work.

There are several other ethical issues that arise in fields such as advertising.  Since most graphic design products fall under this category, graphic designers would most likely have to face those same ethical issues faced by advertisers and advertising agencies.  For example, a graphic designer could be offered to produce an ad, but then he or she could find out that the information in the ad was a product of false advertising.  False advertising means to promote a feature or characteristic in a product that is in fact not true.  In this case, the designer would also have the choice to produce the ad or simply walk away.

Another big ethical issue that a graphic designer could encounter is the issue of copyright and piracy.  Copyright is the legal right that the creator of a design (or any other work) is granted.  The creator or designer owns the rights to the design.  Just like writers have ‘writer’s block’, graphic designers sometimes also have phases in which they are not particularly creative.  This could lead to using someone else’s work and ‘revamping’ it to seem as though you created the whole thing.  This is an illegal practice called piracy.  Graphic Designers should definitely avoid doing this unless they give full credit to the copyright owner, ask for their permission, or use copyright free images.

Design & Culture

Graphic Designers are usually taught about the technical aspects of the career, the software, the design elements, the design principles, and so forth.  However, graphic design is not only about the creativity and ability to create a ‘pretty’ design.  Graphic design is also about the audience for which the design was created.  Many students, and even teachers, forget the audience.  By doing so, several cultural issues may rise.

Culture is defined as the collection of customs, social behavior, and ideas of a specific group of individuals.  Therefore, what might seem as a successful design here in the United States might seem offensive or even harmful in other countries.  For example, a design that includes a hand giving the “thumbs up” may be appropriate for an American audience, but this sign is considered a rude gesture in some Asian and Islamic countries. A recent animated footage which includes the 2012 Olympics had to be removed from the organization’s website because it was causing epileptic seizures to viewers who suffered from epilepsy.  We must always be careful not to insult offend or harm the viewers of our designs.

Maternity Photo-Shoot Tips and Ideas

As a photographer, having a maternity photo-shoot set up of a client can be a great opportunity to take some creative and fun pictures for your own portfolio.   However, much like some other types of photo-shoots, it can be difficult to deal with a client who is pregnant and about to give birth.   I have had the pleasure to photograph pregnant friends and even the most intimate and precious moment of the actual birth.

As the photographer, you must always keep in mind the safety and comfortableness of your subject, the mommy to be and her baby.   It might be a great opportunity for you to get some amazing pregnancy shots for your portfolio, but you must always keep your client’s needs in mind.   Here are some great tips for both the mommy to be and the photographer, as well as some cool photo ideas.

Bump

Bump

Preparations For the Mommy

– The Spa Treatment: Mommies need to be relaxed and worriless the day of their photo-shoot. Having their photos taken, may bring up emotions of how much weight they have gained, and feel like they don’t look their best. Mommies also have a hard time reaching lower parts of their bodies, because of the shape of their bellies, so they couldn’t be able to paint their own toenails, for example.   A good idea is to have a full day spa treatment the day before or a couple of hours before the photo-shoot.   That way the mommy to be can have her hair done, manicure and pedicure, everything waxed, and even professional makeup.   By the time the camera turns on, the mommy-to-be won’t have to worry or feel self-conscious about her nails, hair or makeup.
– Moisturize: Mommies should prepare their skin for the photo-shoot by moisturizing with lotion the most troublesome areas like knuckles, elbows and knees.
– Skin Marks: The day of the photo-shoot, mommies should refrain from wearing any tight clothing or underwear that would have elastic bands that could leave marks on the skin.   This includes socks, because they will leave marks.
– Tannin: Some mommies have the luck to have gorgeous sun-kissed skin.   For those who feel self-conscious about their skin being too pale, there is an option.   Of course I am not recommending that you sunbathe all day before the photo-shoot.   You are pregnant! And the most important thing is the safety of your baby.   However, you can consult your doctor on the safety of spray-tans.   I have read that home spray tans have been ruled completely safe for pregnancy, but I would still research and ask your doctor.   You can also make sure you read the product’s label before you use it to be sure.   There are also some other at-home tanning products, which seem less harmful, which include some tanning wipes.   It is also a good idea not to try a new product the day of the photo-shoot, just in case it doesn’t work just right.   Ask your doctor, and make sure to try it a couple of weeks before the photo-shoot.
– Daddy: If the daddy will be included in the photo-shoot, lets remind him to shave and prep as well.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Props

Odds are that most of the props needed for the maternity shots, the mommy-to-be already has.   Ask her to bring them to the photo-shoot, but if you think you will have more maternity shots in the feature, it would be a good idea to invest in some of these props.   For example, you can get baby blocks to spell out “baby”, “boy”, “girl”, or even the name of the baby.   Get a measuring tape, preferably pink for girl, and blue for boy.   Get the mommy to bring some baby booties or shoes.   Get a large picture frame, just the frame with nothing on the inside, either gold, black or silver would do.   Get a mirror.   Ask the parents to bring something special they have purchased or inherited for the baby, like a special toy that means something to them, they favorite sports team logo, a blanket, etc.   Buy the mommy-to-be’s favorite flowers.   Solid colored blankets are good to have, especially plush ones, so the mommy can sit on and not have to get her outfit dirty.   Outfits that they have already bought for the baby, the sonogram picture of the baby, a scale, blue or pink ribbons, and a label that reads “Do not open until___” (Baby’s due date).   Of course the mommy to be can bring her hubby, her other children, and even her pets to the photo-shoot.
Always think of the mommy’s comfort, and remember pregnant woman can be bothered by the weather.   Be prepared and bring an umbrella if the shoot is outdoors to shield her from the sun.   A little hand-held fan can go a long way.   If the weather is cold, then bring a sweater or two.   Paper towels would be needed if it is hot outside to wipe off any sweat and fix makeup, extra makeup would be good, too.   Mommies also get hungry most of the time, so cold drinks and healthy snacks are good to keep handy, and keep her in a good mood.   An iPod with some relaxing music can put our mommy-to-be in a relaxed mood.   It is also a good idea to have the mommy-to-be search the internet for maternity pictures and have her send you the ones that she likes.   Then on the day of the photo-shoot print them out and bring them with you for inspiration.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Clothing

For outdoor photo-shoots is best to stay away from WHITE outfits.   Suggest that the mommy-to-be wear clean and ironed outfits that are mostly solid colors, and nothing that is too big on her.   The idea is to accentuate the belly; so buttoned shirts are good, because buttons can be opened if she wishes to take photos of her bare belly.   Tops that completely reveal the belly are good too, so something that would be like a cardigan covering only the breasts and arms could be a good option.   Wraps and scarves can be used as a top without covering the belly as well.   If the hubby, siblings and other family members will be joining the mommy in the photo-shoot, their clothes should be color coordinated as well.   Something like a solid top (blue, black, green, etc.), and jeans or khakis is always a good combination.   Long shirts and dresses that wrap the belly are a good option for mommies who don’t wish to bear too much skin.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Location, Location, Location

Maternity photo-shoots could be very private in the client’s home.   The privacy can allow for the mommy-to-be to feel more comfortable showing off her baby bump.   Pictures can be taken inside the baby’s room, in front of a well-lit window, a solid color wall or even in bed.   In this case, is good to have the client prep the house so that everything is in order and the baby’s room is ready and clean.   Taking it outside can be fun too.   A park, a botanical garden, or the beaches are great places to start.   Local historical buildings and areas are a good too.   Be sure to discuss this with the client and decide on locations before you head out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Common Shots

Some mommies like the cliché, more traditional pictures; you know the ones everyone gets. Like the silhouetted belly, the hand-hearts over the belly, the baby blocks spelling the name or gender of the baby, the due date tag with the ribbon, the ribbon by itself, the measuring tape, the daddy kissing the belly, the daddy listening to the belly, the sonogram picture, the baby outfit on top of the belly, the booties on top of the belly.   Even though, you as a photographer wish to be different, you shouldn’t limit your clients by telling them to stay away from cliché shots.   If your client wants the common and overused shots, then provide them.   Afterwards, you can suggest some more unusual shots for them and for your portfolio.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Unusual Shots

To spice things up in a maternity photo-shoot, you can’t just read a list of unusual shots on the Internet, because that would mean that those photos have already been done, and most likely other people are reading those lists too.   Go with your instinct and take photos of anything that seems interesting and different.   Try zooming in and not using your flash, try different views, your view, mommy’s view, dad’s view, the pet’s view, anything you can think of.   It may not work, but you may end up with something amazing.   You just have to take a chance.   You can try to modify some of the already common ideas.   Like instead of using baby blocks to spell the baby’s name or gender, you can write it on the sand and then position mommy and daddy’s feet on top.   You can play with silhouettes and shadows, reflections on the mirror or the water, change the focus, take the shot from outside or inside an odd spot, like from a window looking in or out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

***Special Thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to share images of her pregnancy on this post 🙂

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere (Part II)

Back in February of 2005, while attending community college for a Graphic Design Technology Degree, I was lucky enough to be selected by my Drawing I teacher to participate in a school-funded trip to New York, and witness something amazing.  I had only been to New York once before when I was little, I had never been to Central Park, and I had also only experiences snow once before, when I was little. The trip consisted of a three days stay in New York City, visits to local museums, like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and a visit to Central Park, where artists Christo & Jeanne Claude had created something very special. Witnessing this amazing installation in Central Park by these artists was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am very lucky to have been able to participate in it. I enjoyed this installation very much.

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Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Christo was born in 1935 in Bulgaria; he studied art there and also in Vienna before moving to Paris and beginning to develop himself as an artist creating wrapped packages. When he married Jeanne-Claude, they began to wrap larger objects collaborating with each other as artists. Christo first began by wrapping smaller objects in different fabrics and ropes.  He would wrap items like books, magazines, chairs, motorcycles, tables, and barrels.  Later, with the help of Jeanne-Claude, he was obtaining permits in different cities to wrap famous monuments, fountains, and even buildings in fabric and ropes.  Some of the large-scale things that they have wrapped are the Kunsthalle, an art museum in Switzerland; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; 1 million square feet of the coast in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia; and the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude did other installations aside from wrapping existing objects in different types of fabrics and colors.  They also created their own installations with fabrics from scratch.  They used orange colored fabric to create a wall in Colorado.  They created a long wall that stretched 24 miles in California, using a white fabric. They surrounded the island in Biscayne Beach, Miami, Florida with a bright pink fabric. They created umbrellas out of blue and yellow fabric to decorate fields in both Japan and California respectively.  Finally, in New York’s Central Park they adorned all the walkways with bright orange gates that where constructed with metal frames and orange fabric.  Currently Christo has two works in progress including one in the United Arab Emirates and one in Colorado.  Unfortunately Jeanne-Claude will not be helping him with these projects anymore, because she passed away in 2009 do to a brain aneurysm rupture.

Color & Texture

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork is a one of a kind transitory experience. They raise the money for their big large-scale projects by selling their initial sketches for the projects themselves. They must complete numerous preliminary work such as obtaining countless permits, economical resources and volunteers that would help with the installations. The main design elements of such elaborative pieces are colors and texture. Their use of different fabrics and colors is very unique. When they wrap all these monuments, or create these installations, they definitely change the environment by dramatically altering the texture of such monuments and the colors within nature.

When I was experiencing New York’s Central Park for the first time, with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installation in it, “The Gates”, the experience was quite interesting. The setting was a cold February in New York winter, and all the colors of the white snow and the blue skies, where split-compliments of the brown trees and the bright orange gates.  Whiteout the gates, Central Park would have felt very cold, and blue, as far as colors goes. However, the warmth of the orange made the installation pop out on the canvas that was the park. The texture of the fabric used for the gates was very fascinating. The texture appeared simple just like regular cotton, however it was very different when you actually touched it. It was permeable and had a patterned texture to it, like tiny little dots that your fingers could read. This seemed to contrast with the rest of the textures in the park like the trees and the snow. Overall, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have exceptionally and innovatively used both color and texture to alter the norm, and to pose a different view and feel in rural and urban settings.

Please visit Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s website for pictures of their work.

After this trip I took a Photography class in which our teacher took us on a walkthrough to the Las Olas Riverfront to take pictures outdoors.   I was trying to look for interesting shots.   The day was beautiful for picture taking, there was not one cloud in the sky and it was the brightest blues I had ever seen.   Looking up to the sky from the riverfront walk I saw some very bright yellow umbrellas from a restaurant on the second floor.   The contrast between the warm yellow tones and the cool blue skies, reminded me of one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work.   I was inspired by it and I took this photo:

Umbrellas

Umbrellas

Spot Colors and Process Colors

I have already discussed the different color modes and their uses.   For example, we now know to use CMYK color mode for print publication and RGB color mode for on-screen publications.   However, there are a few other terms we as designers and photographers should be familiar with.   We should know the definitions and differences between spot colors and process colors.

Spot Color Vs. Process Color

Spot Color can be defined as a method for printing in which each color will be printed in one printing plate by using its own matched color of ink.   Process color is a different printing method in which a color is printed using only four separate printing plates that each uses four specific colors (CMYK).   The spot color printing method is usually followed when the design uses only one or three different colors.   For example, when a company wishes to match their logo’s exact colors in a publication.

Designers and Colors

As knowledgeable graphic designers we must understand and apply our knowledge of color printing processes into our designs.   For starters, designers have to choose only one method (spot color or process color) for their artwork’s file.   In order to create spot colors and process colors in any design software you can simply add a new swatch to your color palette.   You can do this by choosing a Pantone color from the PANTONE Solid Coated swatch window.   You will be able to switch between spot and process colors in the Swatch Options window.   And you will also be able to know when the color chosen is a process color or a spot color, because the swatch will have either a black dot on the bottom right corner triangle (in Illustrator), or a grey square with a grey dot on it (InDesign).

Primary Process Colors

The primary process colors in print are CMYK.   Each plate or ink cartridge will contain one of the four inks.   C stands for the Cyan color ink.   M stands for the Magenta color ink.   Y stands for the Yellow color ink.   K stands for the black color ink.   Each process color has a measurement of how much Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and/or blank does it require to make that exact color.

Benefits and Drawbacks

One of the drawbacks of using the spot color printing method is that each different ink color is somewhat expensive to produce.   Therefore, most spot color printing jobs will only have one, two or three colors.   Using more than three spot colors would result in a very expensive bill for the printing job.   When printed colored text using the spot color method, the printer will not have that much trouble, because there will be one specific ink to be printed on the paper, once, to create the text.   However, when printing colored text using the process color method, the printer may have trouble with registration.   Because the printer has to go over the same spot to create the text with each one of the inks, the text could have a slightly blurred effect if the printer is not precise, particularly if the typeface is very delicate and has fine serifs.

How to Create Spot Colors and Process Colors in Illustrator Video Tutorial

Color Modes

If you are a Graphic Designer or Photographer, then you should already know a little about the different color modes, or color spaces, RGB and CMYK.   However, if you are not aware of these concepts, don’t sweat it, it is very easy to understand.   Color modes are basically systems used to describe colors in a numerical way.   Color modes can be classified into additive and subtractive.   An additive color mode, such as RGB, will result in white by the addition of all the inclusive main colors (Red, Green, Blue) at 100%.   The subtractive color mode, such as CMYK, will result in black by the addition of all the main colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) at 100%.

Color Modes

Color Modes

Differences

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, and this color mode works by assigning an intensity value to each pixel on an image.   Intensity values go from 0 to 255 for each of the channel or color mentioned (RGB).   When the intensity value is set equally for all channels the result is a neutral gray, when they are all set to 0, the result is black, and when they are all set to 255, the result is white.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.   This color mode works by assigning each pixel a percentage value for each of the process inks (CMYK).   When all the colors are set to 100%, the result will be black.   When all the colors are set to 0%, the result will be white.

The LAB color mode is an entirely different model.   This color mode is based on the human eye, and the human perception of color.   This color mode is considered device-independent, because it describes what a color looks like, and not the intensity or amount of ink in it.   The L component is the light component, which goes from 0 to 100.   The A component is for the green-red axis.   The B component is for the blue-yellow component.   The A and B components go from -128 to +127.   These numeric values are a description of all the colors that a normal human eye can perceive.

Grayscale color mode uses only shades of gray in an image.   There are no colors but black, white and gray.   Grayscale can be edited either in percentage from 0% to 100%, where 0 is white and 100 is black, or in value of shades of gray, from 0 to 256, 0 being black and 256 being white.

Duotone color mode can create either monotone, duotone, tritone or quadtone images.   Duotone does this by creating grayscale images.   The difference is that the user can select to have custom inks, either one, two, three or up to four custom inks.   A good example of this would be sepia images. The Bitmap color mode has two color values, either black or white.   This color mode represents an image only using black or white. ***When placing a Photoshop Duotone file into InDesign, the color palette changes.   The color palette will no longer let you choose values for CMY, it will only go from black to white.

Color Modes for Printing

Designers use CMYK color modes for printed documents.   The reason for this, is that CMYK color modes will better match and image on the computer screen to that on the printed-paper.   Once you create a document on CMYK mode, the printer will know how much Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black to use to duplicate the same color on your screen, because printers also use CMYK color modes.   That is why inks come in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow packages, and then Black.

Color Modes Not for Printing

One of the Color modes not used for printing is the RGB color mode.   Most TVs, and computer screens use red, green and blue lights to display the images on your screen.   However, as discussed earlier, printers work with CMYK color mode.  Therefore RGB color mode should be used for images and designs that will only be seen in screens.   But for printing, we must use CMYK.

A Bit of Color

The term “Bit” as it pertains to computers, comes from the term BInary digit (BIT).   A bit is the smallest unit of computer storage.   When it comes to colors, a bit is information about the color in one single pixel of the image.   This is also known as color depth or bit depth, which is the number of colors, that certain hardware or software can represent.   For example, an 8-bit document has 2 to the 8th power of colors (256 colors).   A 16-bit document has 2 to the 16th power of colors (65,536 colors).   Therefore a 16-bit document is capable of representing more colors than an 8-bit document.

How to create a Cool Duotone Image

Here is a quick little video tutorial on how to create cool duotone images.

Duotone Video Tutorial

Raster Images vs. Vector Graphics

Graphic Design students should be aware of the two main different types of Graphics that designers work with on a day-to-day basis.   These main categories are raster and vector graphics.   Each type of graphics is used for different types of projects.   If we where to download the images posted below this post we would have three raster graphics as .jpg formats and three vector graphics in .eps or .ai formats.   Furthermore, if we where to open the downloaded graphics with the appropriate software application (Photoshop and Illustrator) and zoom in as much as possible on each image, we would see clearly one difference between both types of graphics.

The main difference between raster graphics and vector graphics is that raster graphics are composed of a set amount of pixels, or small squares of different colors.   On the other hand, vector graphics are composed of mathematically calculated lines or paths and anchor points that define each shape or object.   This main difference makes raster graphics unable to be enlarged too much, because they loose quality and become pixilated, meaning that the more we try to enlarge a raster graphic the less quality it will have.   On the other hand, vector graphics can be scaled as much as you wish either enlarging or shrinking the graphic.   This is the main reason why logos, along with other types of graphics should always be created using a vector based software application such as Illustrator.

Another difference between the both is that it is very easy to convert a vector graphic into a raster graphic.   However, converting a raster graphic into a vector graphic requires advanced software skills and the image is ultimately not visually equal to the original raster graphic, but instead it is a vector version of it.   Some raster images are too difficult to convert to vector, so it could also be impossible to do so for some images.  The conversion of vector into raster is as simple as selecting the “Export” option inside Illustrator and selecting the JPG format.   Converting a raster image into a vector version requires placing the image as a raster linked file into Illustrator and manually “tracing it” using the pen, pencil or brush tools.   Ultimately, the vector version of a raster image does not look exactly the same as the raster version, and a raster version of a vector graphic looks just like the vector graphic.

Another important difference, especially when it comes to designing logos and icons, is the transparency and shape restrictions.   When you create a raster image it will always be within a rectangular shaped canvas.   Even if you save the raster image as a PNG file format with a transparent background, you will have an “invisible” rectangular background behind it.   On the other hand, when you save an irregularly shaped design from a vector based application software, the image will be the shape of the object and it will have no background, not even an invisible background.

Vector Graphics

NFL Logo

Edward Tufte’s “Airport Signal People” Illustration

Social Networking Icons

Raster Graphics

Yann Arthus-Bertrand Aerial Photo of the Orinoco River in Venezuela

Digital artwork for Zlata Studna by Rado Zilisnky

Digital image manipulation by Maciej Hajnrich

MW

Quality and Resolution Defined

During their careers, graphic designers will usually encounter clients and even coworkers that do not understand the graphic design world and common design concepts used in that world.  One of the most common concepts that individuals find hard to grasp is the difference between raster files and vector files.  This concept would be easier to understand if most of those individuals knew the definition of image resolution, which is usually confused with image quality.  It is the job of the graphic designer to learn all of these concepts and to be able to explain these concepts to their coworkers and clients, when creating a project.

Image Quality and Image Resolution

Before understanding the differences or similarities between image quality and image resolution, a definition of each should be studied.  First, we must understand how digital images are formed.  When we take a photograph with a digital camera, or we create a new document using a raster-based software like Photoshop, we are creating digital images as raster files.  These images are composed of pixels, or dots of color and digital information.  When we talk about the Image Resolution of a digital image, we are referring to a number, a proportion, defined by the number of pixels that compose the image.  When we talk about the Image Quality of a digital image, we are referring to the compression, the size of the file of the image, defined by the reduction or not of the information in each pixel within the image.  This explains that image quality and image resolution are not exactly the same thing, but they both have to do with the pixels within a digital image.

More on Image Quality and Resolution

The number or proportion of pixels in an image determines the resolution of an image.  This proportion is known as pixels per inch, or PPI, which can also be called dots per inch or DPI.  This pixel per inch ratio or proportion refers to the number of pixels inside one square inch of the image.  For example, images prepared for the web are usually saved with a 72 PPI resolution; therefore they have a low resolution.  An image prepared to print is usually prepared at 300 PPI; therefore it has a high resolution.  However, it is possible to have an image that has a high resolution of say 300 PPI, but is low quality.  This can be accomplished by creating a 300 PPI image in Photoshop using the Image Size window, and then saving it as a JPG with a low quality of 1, or even 0.  The same is true for creating an image that has a low resolution, like for example 72 PPI, and then save it with a high quality of 10, or even 12 on the image options of the saving window.

Do’s & Don’ts

As a graphic designer, you will most likely learn on your own the do’s and don’ts of image resolution and image quality throughout your career during trial and error.  Nevertheless, there are several do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of when dealing with these concepts that I have learned on the job and will share with you.

  1. After manipulating an image in Photoshop, make sure to save as a copy and keep the original images intact.
  2. Always keep a Photoshop version (with layers) of your manipulated images, and a flattened JPG version.
  3. Remember you can go from high resolution to low resolution, but not the other way around.  Therefore, always take and create high-resolution images.
  4. Always have a backup of your files.
  5. Never prepare an image for printing at less than 300 PPI.

¡Bienvenidos!

I guess I should start this blog by introducing myself. In a few words I am 26 years old, I was born in Venezuela and I am a Graphic Designer. And just to let you know, I had written an awesome introductory post on a blogger account, but they deleted my entire blog, which reminds me to advise to you to always back up everything in two separate locations.

Anyhow, I initially decided to create a blog to put myself out there as a professional Graphic Designer and share my designs and design process with other aspiring designers out there. I also wanted to share my passion for photography and my amateur photographs. However, I later thought that no one, except the people I know, would care to read such a blog and all these kinds of things are already on my Facebook page. Therefore, I want to share more than just my artwork, but insights to opinions and ideas about things I have some knowledge of… this includes Graphic Design, Photography and all things Apple/Mac… and of course the usual geek stuff.

I claim to have some knowledge in these subjects, so I think I should give you a bit of a background, so you know where this knowledge comes from. I have an Associates of Arts Degree in Business Administration. I just received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications with a concentration in Graphic Design. I have been doing Graphic Design since 2004, I have been practicing photography since 2008 and I love Apple since their Macintosh Classic II (1991).

Welcome to my blog… I hope you stick around.

MW

Melissa Wolowicz

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