This video provides a discussion about knowing what the final specifications for a project are, before starting to take the photos for the piece.
- When I get a job shooting photos for a particular design, one of the first things I do is ask the designer a series of questions. Obviously, I want to know what the designer has in mind creatively, and I want to determine if there are any specific elements that need to be considered for the content of the photos, but there are also a fair number of technical things that have to be determined before I go out shooting. When you're doing the shooting yourself you still need to address these questions. It's possible you already know these questions. Photographers might have asked these same questions of you before, but just to be sure, we're gonna quickly look at the critical technical concerns that you need to consider before you go out shooting pictures.
Color or black and white? Now oddly, this question is not as critical as it used to be, because color printing is so cheap now that it's rare for designers to work in black and white. However, while cost may no longer be a deciding factor, you might choose to work in black and white simply for the aesthetic. Whatever the reason, you'll shoot black and white images differently from how you'll shoot color images, so it's good to determine ahead of time if you'll be working in one or the other. What's the final print size of the images? Simply put, you can see more detail in an image that's printed at a larger size.
If the photos you want are going to be printed very small in your final design, then you'll want to think about compositions differently than you would with a larger print size. In a very small portrait for example, it's better to shoot closeups of faces with no extra headroom so that the faces are bigger at the final print size. If you're shooting a product, you'll want to ensure that important details on the product are big enough in the frame to show up at a small final size. Having a sense of final print size will greatly inform your compositions while you are shooting.
You'll measure final print size in inches, centimeters, picas, fathoms, whatever unit of measure you usually work in. What resolution do you need? Now this question is really not as crucial as it used to be, because most cameras these days capture so many pixels that you can almost always get the print size and resolution that you need out of any final image file. To ensure the best image quality, you want your photos to have a resolution that is double the line screen of your printing process. If you don't know the line screen of your printing process, then you just need to call your print shop and ask them.
They'll give you a number in lines per inch, or LPI. It'll probably be something like 133, which means you'll want final photos with a resolution of 266 pixels per inch. If you're using a more coarse printing process, perhaps you're printing on newsprint, then you might find that your printing process uses a line screen of 80 lines per inch, meaning you only need 160 pixels per inch. If you're printing really large, say billboard size, you might find that your line screen is only one or two lines per inch, meaning you only need a resolution of two or four pixels per inch.
Knowing print size and resolution is important because it's how you determine if your camera captures enough pixels to produce a usable image at a given size without any scaling. Once you've figured out the final sizes for your images and determined the resolution required by your printing process, you can fiddle with the image size box in Photoshop to determine the precise pixel dimensions that your images should be. If those are smaller than what your camera can capture, then you know you won't have to scale your images up. If they're bigger than what your camera can capture then you will have to scale up, which isn't a deal breaker, but if too much scaling is required, then you might want to look into renting or borrowing a different camera.
I'm not gonna go into the details of the image size dialog box in this course, because I figure that as a designer you already have experience with it, so all of this should be refresher and overview. Does your design have an overall color palette that you need the photos to match? Or does it have an overall color palette that you need the photos to differ from in a particular way? I suppose my point here is simply for you to give some thought to whether you want the color treatment of the photos to match something else in your design. Such a decision can influence prop choice, lighting, or post-production.
You may not have enough control over your lighting to affect big color changes which means you'll be required to get any desired color treatments in post-production. If such treatments are a critical part of your design, then you may want to do some experimentation to ensure that you can get the post-production color effects that you want. Are there graphic elements or lines in your design that you want to echo in your photos? If so, these might require additional props or other constructions for inclusion in your photos. And finally, these days it's the rare piece of media that exists solely on its own.
Print pieces, web designs, video productions, a full multimedia campaign often features all of those different types of media, and unfortunately not all of those media have the same technical concerns. If you know that the images you're going to shoot will need to be repurposed for other media, then you need to consider the needs of all of those media when planning for your shoot. For example, while your print product may use your images at a very small size, perhaps your website or a video production can show larger images. If that's true then you might want to shoot separate variations for each medium, and those variations might allow for compositional differences.
For a multimedia shoot, you'll need to think and plan carefully to ensure that you get all of the photos that you need from your photo session. I'm gonna say this a lot during this course. Yes, digital imaging is amazing, but don't assume that you can fix and repair everything in post-production. Even if it possible to save an image through editing, that takes time. Getting things as close as you can to correct inside the camera will make your life much easier and more profitable. What's more, it's a particularly sickening feeling to assume that you can fix something in post and then after a few hours of work find out that you can't.
Thinking through the technical and creative requirements for your images will help ensure that you come away from your shoot with good, usable images. This doesn't mean you can't improve them further with editing, but a good result starts with a good source material, so take the time to answer these questions and any others that you can think of that are particular to your project.
In this course, photographer, author, and educator Ben Long details the concepts and techniques that graphic designers should know about in order to work with photography more effectively. The course begins with a look at logistical and legal considerations, from composing for a layout to budgeting to obtaining permissions and releases. Next, Ben tackles the kind of assignment you might find yourself taking on—shooting a variety of different types of photos that are required for a print piece. The course concludes with guidance on where to go next to further your photography skills.
- What's different because you're a designer?
- Knowing the final specs for a design project
- Budgeting for a photo shoot
- Planning and previsualizing your shoot
- Preparing your camera
- How the eye sees differently from the camera
- Shooting individual and group portraits
- Post-production and final product
- Finding the keepers