Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's nothing like being a designer who, first and foremost, is a shooter with an art background

Brew ha ha
The photo. The centerpiece.

I started my career as a custom printer working in pro photo labs here in town by night and by day, worked my way up the assistant's ladder for a couple of advertising photographers, eventually getting some shooting jobs of my own before landing in journalism. Ping-ponging back-and-forth between saving badly exposed negs shot by shooters who really shouldn't have been charging anyone and working with a handful of some of the more innovative advertising shooters at the time taught me to refine not only my technique, but more importantly, my eye and aesthetic. Looking back at it, it was a great foundation and a better education than all the photo classes at university combined. 

LOVE MY JOB: I love having the opportunity to grow as a designer and work at my craft everyday. There are a lot of talented designers at the newspaper and I learn from all of them every day. Coming from an art background and not necessarily a journalism background, I'm finding that being a photographer and an artist has given me such great insight into the needs of a print designer. There are days where I find myself creating spur of the moment photography or illustrations if the supplied art falls short. Case in point: I sat down yesterday to start designing a cover and after reading the story, realized that the art the reporter arranged for us to photograph was just a slice of the story and though well shot and worked by the assigned photographer, it just wasn't exceptionally sexy. And it certainly didn't go with the playful headline. 

HAVE CAMERA, WILL TRAVEL: So, not really knowing where I'd end up, on my way out the door for work today, I grabbed my 5D, a couple of Lensbabies, some colorful sheets of paper and the only colored coffee mug I have in the house - a teeny Ikea espresso cup (all my regular-sized mugs are a very, uh-hem, grownup stark white). Once I finally had time to sneak up to the photo department's studio, I started pulling out heads and grids and started shooting til I got something that I liked. 

LENSBABY LOVE: The beauty of a Lensbabys is that you are forced to get very up close and personal with your subject, completely distorting perspective. Looking at the final shots, you really can't tell that the coffee mug is just a bit bigger than a shot glass! The editor was pleased, my design editor complimented me and I am sitting back thinking, thank goodness I can shoot and again, acknowledging how blessed I am that I have editors that allow me to cross back and forth between photographer, photo editor and designer with complete trust. 

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