Archive for Blog

Food Styling Tips

Blogon August 15th, 2011Comments

Beautiful photography comes in many different forms; one of the most detailed forms can be food photography. Unbeknown to most consumers most of the food products they see in advertisements or packages are not even edible. Some of the following tips are helpful to make your photography outstanding:
Use Fake Ice Cubes- Acrylic and plastic ice cubes work the best, these of course won’t melt while you are preparing your shot. Acrylic ice cubes can be used to provide glitter to your décor and shot, since they can’t be used for chilling the beverage. Plastic ice cubes have a gel in them that they can chill and freeze, they also won’t sink to the bottom of the glass.
Incorporate Glycerin- This thick liquid that can freeze into a gummy paste can be dissolved into water and alcohol. It can be used as spray water for a long lasting condensation look, they usually last for 15 minutes. It is also used for fruit for a great juicy, shining appearance.
Glue as Liquids- That great bowl of cereal isn’t full of milk, photographers fake this with glue, such as Elmer’s or any other white multi-purpose glue. By doing this it helps to keep the shot longer (always the name of the game.) The cereal won’t become soggy as fast no will it become discolored after time by any colored cereal. For more precision work, keeping flakes on a spoon the glue helps since acting as a glue and milk.
• For when you need a perfectly toasted piece of bread or English muffin, use a heat gun to toast it evenly by hand, not with a toaster which you can’t control. Also use a heat gun to slightly heat chocolate chips in a cookie but not so much that the cookies dough gets too warm as well that it loses it’s structure and falls apart.
• Pizza cheese that is stretchy and stringy like just out of the oven use the low fat kind instead of fresh it is much more pliable.
• To produce some localized steam without need to disrupt your food, use tampons that have been soaked in water and then heated in the microwave, bury or hide them behind the food for a just cooked look.
• You may need to fake a peach or apple leaf, so always have a ficus plant around.
• Corn Husker’s lotion keeps tortillas from cracking when rolled up, don’t forget it’s not edible.
• Keep makeup sponges on hand to prop up food or add extra height to a product. The same goes for wet paper towels to add a false bottom if you are short on a product.
• Use other food to fake a shot, whipped butter can be represented by using Cool Whip. Soap bubbles can be added to coffee as if just fresh brewed, of course you can no longer drink it.
• If you need a product to hold its place, try using Polident. For holding pie crust or anything else flaky in place coat it in Vaseline, just remember to not eat that either.
• Some great tools to have on hand to help with the plating and preparing process; tweezers, fine paint brushes, spray bottles, compressed air (to clear condensation) and melon ballers (for a perfect scoop.)

With many of these tips and useful products hopefully it adds to your photography portfolio. For some inspiration check out these great food photography inspirations above.

Benefits of Freelance Design vs. Design Agency

Blogon August 8th, 2011Comments

When designing in different situations it helps to differentiate the style of design you will encounter. By working on projects of a freelance design basis you can work for many different companies within a short amount of time. With this style of work you can have one specific skill set that you are hired for by companies. Say if you are a great re-toucher in Photoshop, then companies that only need a person with high retouching skills would be hired.

This can be the same if you are doing freelance work for yourself, by finding your own clients and keeping in contact with them. The only issue with that is it pays only on a part-time basis unless you decide to start your own business as such. that in particular might be the actual reason you would want to start your own freelance business.

On the other hand of design instead of any freelance work of any type (which can be inconsistent) full time design work for an agency is the most common route. However the draw back of that unfortunately is just like freelance design for other companies you aren’t your own boss and there is the possibility of your creativity being stifled by someone who isn’t.

The best way to cope with the problem would be to learn everything all the time you can about design so that you may try to instantly win over the client. While having your own freelance clients on the side would also help for even more experience and practice.

If the design is the only problem then you could always work by a few key rules to ensure all else goes smoothly with the client:
• Under promise-over deliver, always count on things that will take longer because then when your project is done early your client is even more impressed.
• Avoid giving ultimatiumsl as putting deadlines in strict words may put you in danger as your client expects it to happen as you say. Avoiding phrases like “I never miss deadlines” or “I always finish projects earlier than planned” and you will never put yourself in a difficult place.
By making sure you don’t over extend yourself it is likely that you then can have yourself working with happy clients straight away.

34 Typographic Sins

Blogon August 5th, 2011Comments

Created by design Jim Godfry. You can purchase his letterpress print here.

Manual Photography Cheat Sheet

Blogon July 3rd, 2011Comments

Boycotting ADCNJs Annual Awards Show

Blogon May 16th, 2011Comments

I am a huge promoter of volunteering and giving back to different causes especially when it is a cause that I personally enjoy. For the past two years I have been volunteering my services for the Art Directors Club of New Jersey’ s Annual Awards Show. This year I will not be assisting in the setup of the awards show specifically because of the committee unfortunately voting for the host this year to be the same as last year, who was an offensive comedian.

This comedian “Sarge” of course mocks things as his job, but for him to stand up there and flat out mock everything that our design field holds true is offensive. All things were mocked, from what the awards themselves looked like to the award ladies (who were students) that handed them out to the winners were practically called prostitutes for the nice dresses they were wearing.

This evening was to be an elegant night of honoring great design work that all should be proud of. Instead being mocked for our awards show being the equivalent of a mother posting finger paint art of a 3 year old on their refrigerator according to Sarge. Shouldn’t the host of an awards show portray a great designer or advertiser? Not someone who make their living by putting down others accomplishments to make them look better. If only there was a change of venue or even the host was someone new this year then perhaps the Art Directors Club would have had a chance to improve upon last year. As many on the committee board had strongly opposed this idea of having Sarge back for another year it was still passed. I feel mainly because one of his friend is a higher-up board member he has come back this year despite the opposition to him.

I had been hoping for another elegant evening as had been the year before in 2009 when Debra Rizzi of Rizco Design hosted and coordinated the event. It was held at the Stonehouse at Stirling Ridge, a modern atmosphere restaurant which even had a great design to the building to compliment the event. It was what I feel all award shows should be, yet the disappointment of an offensive comedian, old and tired looking venue and a lack of respect for the art that we create is certainly why my services will not be helping set up this year’s event.

If Sarge is what ADCNJ feels is a good representation of who should be hosting their awards and being mocked for our careers and hard design work they need to take a look and figure out why they are even having an awards show in the first place if you knock down our accomplishments.

Annual Design Conferences to Attend

Blogon April 20th, 2011Comments

Design conferences are a great resource for the up and coming designer or veteran of the design world. It is a place that allows knowledge to be shared about design that you may not have been able to learn in other ways.

For the past few years I have been attending the Art Directors Club of New Jersey’s Thinking Creatively Design Conference held at Kean University. As much as it was a requirement to attend while a student at Kean I thoroughly enjoyed the different famous designers I would not have been able to hear lecture. Since this is a smaller conference, not internationally known the groups were smaller allowing for personal time with the design speaker. As there is usually more than one talk going on at once, not every person attending will be in the same place.
Since this conference is held in Union, NJ it is a quick train ride to NYC since the train station is right on campus. This allows for many of New York’s best designers to easily attend. Many have also been from afar, as was during my first conference. Illustrator Daniel Reeve of New Zealand was the keynote speaker of my first conference. He is best known for the design of the Lord of the Rings maps used in the movies. So Thinking Creatively is not some dinky college conference. Even last year Ronald J. Cala and his classmate at Tyler School of Design Jessica Hische who are both great rising illustrators, who had their own lectures at the conference. For those who are local to New Jersey I would certainly suggest this conference without having to book a flight to attend.

AIGA’s annual design conference is always a great national option for a major design conference. Each year the venue changes to different states, so of course that allows you to meet with different design professionals in different locations.

This year AIGA is hosting their event in Phoenix, Arizona. It is known as the “Pivot” conference by discussing shifts in changes of design thinking, practices, education, technology, society and business. AIGA is such a large organization that it is no surprise that they draw many of design’s top designers. Even the conference in 2010 allowed designer Ronald J. Cala to be the sole designer to create all of the graphics for the conference. For good causes comes donated design.

If Arizona is not exactly your area perhaps HOW magazine’s annual design conference in Chicago this year will be better. HOW has many creative design sessions including how to build a successful design career. Something everyone of course wants to do. With more than 30 expert speakers and over 35 different lecture sessions you are sure to come away with more design knowledge than you arrived with. A great addition to the usual sit and listen lectures that HOW has incorporated is Studio Tours around Chicago. I love taking tours of studios to help see how other design professionals use their primary design environment to inspire their creativity. This is a great new benefit that I have never heard of at any other design conference and would certainly recommend it if your are attending this conference already. It gives you the great chance to view great design companies such as Threadless T-Shirts, major branding company IDEA and the small creative group Upshift.
Just as networking nights, design conferences are here to help inspire, inform and introduce you to design professionals that you have yet to know.

Scuba Diving Photograph Baltimore’s National Aquarium

Blogon April 11th, 2011Comments

My absolute favorite place to photograph animals is Baltimore’s National Aquarium. The best, well organized and clean aquarium I have been to yet. The one addition to the aquarium that has certainly improved the adventure was having the opportunity to photograph a scuba diver with all the aquatic life.

I very much recommend this aquarium to photographers and scuba divers. The benefits of being able to dive in such a great place are endless. It allows you to dive and see so many great animals without having to be in open water. Which you would have to travel many different places in the world to be able to see all that you could in this aquarium.

I would like to share some tips of photographing scuba diver in aquariums, these tips also generally work for anything underwater:

As with any aquarium it is best no matter what the subject in water to put your lens right up to the glass to avoid glare and anything that may be reflecting behind you. Never use flash in front of glass, as it will just create a reflection distorting the image you want to capture.

If an animal or scuba diver is moving too fast in the water for your set shutter speed and you can’t change your ISO any higher. So another option would be to pan with the moving object. Usually a tripod helps with this, but any steady object can assist. By following the object with the camera while taking a longer exposure, it is a good way to have the object to be in focus but the background is still blurred.

Many aquariums are great places to get great photos of animals and people in water that you would need lots of underwater gear for it.

TED Talks are Amazing Resources

Blogon April 4th, 2011Comments

A great website that I hope many designers or any people who surf the internet know about is Ted.com It is full of video clips from TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences. This is a more specific and professional version of youtube.com, that is only from Ted Conferences around the world. Since starting in California with two annual conferences it has spread to the United Kingdom, India, Tanzania and Washington, D.C.

This website was first brought to my attention while attending a design conference, with some of the most well known designers in the industry. It is a great way to hear designers lectures even if you can’t get yourself to these events. Not only are there talks from designers, but many other topics and entertainers. Including pollution, the great floating garbage patch and design made simple.

I feel this website is more of an educational website to learn of other views on subjects, because of this it allows me to spend hours on this website by watching all different types of videos even including music.

Since Ted Talks started as a conference for Technology, Entertainment & Design as providing all “ideas worth spreading,” so I feel they should be featured on as many design blogs as possible, including mine.

Design Related Websites/Inspirations

Blogon March 21st, 2011Comments

Sorry everyone about the lack of posts over the past month. Until I have regularly scheduled posts, please check out this list of great design related websites. These websites are suggested by major designers via Graphic Design USA’s People to Watch in 2011 edition.

Jessica Hische – svpply
Robin Tooms – The 99 Percent, Brand New, Mashable, Fast Company, A List Apart
Ben Blumenfeld – Dribble
Christine Mau – OpenIDEO, CubeMe, The Die Line, Mocoloco, Cool Hunting
Mike Macadaan – Minimalissimo
Jenn David Connolly – Stanley’s Surfboard Logo Library
Sarah Williams – The Scout Magazine, ffffound, Friends of Type, Graphic Hug, ohjoy.blogs.com
Rachel Crawford – Design Sponge

Print Design Magazine for Designers

Blogon February 14th, 2011Comments

The Internet has become one of the best resources for designers. There is so much information that is out there that can be obtained, from meeting other designers you admire, to learning about new designers you have never heard of. Many design magazines have their resources online, such as Communication Arts, Print, Graphis, CMYK and HOW, these are also great magazines to have in print. Graphic Design USA is a free subscription magazine full of articles about new and upcoming designers and design companies. GDUSA also provides free sample and swatch books (yet another great resources for designers to have on hand). As other design magazines provide, they feature many design contests throughout the year.

Print magazine is also another great magazine, this is something I have read monthly and always enjoyed. They hold many design contests throughout the year, those that are even open to students. Something that I have not seen from any other are DesignCasts, these are a series of interactive learning presentations by the brightest minds in design, delivered to your desktop. Print also has print blogs, inspiration and a shop full of books, old issues, CDs and DVDs.

Communication Arts has a beautiful print magazine, if you are a subscriber to the magazine it allows you to have access online to even more design info. than regular non-subscribers. I prefer this as a print magazine instead of online resource. It is still a great magazine it is just restricted to those not associated. If you are curious of designs outside of the United States, Graphis magazine is for you. This magazine is host to many design portfolios, design contests, blog entries and archives. For the most comprehensive list of international design, designers and design schools Graphis is for you.

CMYK magazine is a good resource in print for any designer, like other design magazines as a subscriber you can have your online portfolio for all to see. A design magazine wouldn’t be a great magazine without design contests. Additionally I would recommend this magazine especially because my favorite design Ronald J. Cala is the art director of the magazine. There are always design resources on their website, from design studios to design supplies and even tutorials and training.

To have a subscription to any one of these design magazines would enhance any designers design outlook. If some of these subscriptions seem too expensive you can purchase at the student price if you are one, or waiting for a holiday sale to save some money. Even at full price these are worth it to stay connected to the design world. Happy design reading.