The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Thu. Jul 01, 2004

Photography for Designers

Nate Steiner at web-graphics announces, “The brand spanking first issue of Design In-Flight (DIF) is here. This quarterly publication is cram packed with articles useful to the designer and web developer. It can be purchased for $3 per issue or $10 for a four issue subscription.

I’m proud to note that I played a small role in this first issue, authoring an article entitled DIY Photography on the cheap, which is all about setting up a low budget photo studio, and understanding the key photography concepts in order to use it. It’s written from the perspective of a non-photo-pro (me), with invaluable aid from my friend, and extensive photo blogger Reid Scott AKA Photodude.

Yes, I offered Nate detailed advice on how designers can learn to do some photography for themselves. Seem like a foolish thing for a freelance photographer to do? After all, how many times do we hear, “hey, let’s save some money, I’ve got a nice camera, what else do you need to be a photographer?”

I love to provide people an opportunity to find out for themselves.

Nate’s article and my advice are mostly related to the simplest of setups, like a small product on a simple white background. Some designers will find that with a small investment in materials, and some practice, they can get quite usable results. Others will fail gloriously. But in both cases, they will gain a new understanding and respect for professional photography. At that level, it’s far from a point and click exercise, like those cool shots you did on vacation or of your friends. It’s deliberate, detailed, and laborious.

However, as Nate’s article points out, there are times a designer is faced with a small budget, a tight deadline, and a need for a simple photograph. In those cases, the ability to set up and shoot a basic product photo can make or break the deal. It’s a good tool for a designer to have in their skill set. And it’s also a chance for them to learn how much equipment is needed (even with Nate’s low budget studio advice), and see how much time even the simplest of shots can take. Any designer knows that time is money, especially if they have to reshoot their photo due to a missed detail. So in addition to providing help for those times there is no other choice, it’s a unique and powerful way to teach the value of professional photography, so they come to think, “hey, that guy’s prices really aren’t that bad for what we’re getting.”

If you’ve ever tried to replace a toilet, you either [1] were eventually successful, but came to appreciate the value of the plumbing profession while on your hands and knees amidst your own waste, or [2] realized you were over your head and called a professional to fix the mess you’d made.

So, that’s why I was happy to help. And Nate has been nice enough to post the full Q & A we did via e-mail. Since we did it almost two months ago, well, I found it interesting reading! Hopefully you will as well. And if you have followup questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Peanut Gallery

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