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Monday, March 27, 2006

Dallas Creative Services

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bashing stock images? Wait just a minute.

I have heard all the arguments for and against stock photography. Commonly the most vocal opponents to using stock images are design directors claiming that stock photography is killing creativity. Well maybe? But I think bad art directors can kill a project a lot faster than a stock image. When it comes to whether or not you should use stock photography, the argument should be redirected to, "Do I have sufficient budget to visualize this project "concept first" using custom photography?" If not, then a "content first" approach, using stock images, is the only way.

A "concept first" creative process starts with an idea, a eureka moment that flows through every aspect of the creative process. It relies on a talented art director that is in tune with the client and understands the product or message well enough to create a unique concept that tells a story. This is the way most art students learn, the way most art professors teach, and the approach that they would both like to keep. It is understandable, it develops creativity without a crutch or a gimmick. It leads to better art directors. But unfortunately, the real world doesn't always have the finances to keep up. A well executed "content first" process can have the same results.

I began my design career in the television industry where every foot of film cost many thousands of dollars, and required the talents of not only a skilled cinematographer, but a gaffer, grip, expensive gear, and the time to plan and execute a shoot. We loved the opportunity to create new footage, but every client wasn't Nike, and every budget wasn't funded by Bill Gates. Often the only available outlet was stock motion photography combined with skilled writing, clever editing, and talented visual compositing.

Since it is a relatively new approach for classicly trained art directors to have thousands of stock photographs available for a concept, they are generally opposed to this approach. Most still prefer to stand-up straight, musket in hand, and walk toward the enemy lines. But even the most reluctant art director is often forced to the more difficult challenge of creating a eureka idea that can be fulfilled by an existing image.

Just ten years ago the only option was to sort through a large stock image book and choose from a limited supply of images. But along came the internet and suddenly hundreds of thousands of quality photos from skilled photographers around the world were available.

Given the choices I still enjoy the opportunity to stage and shoot my own photos at the Bauart
. But technology has opened up an increasingly dynamic choice of quality images which enable a "content first" approach to work, when it never could before.

Don't worry about killing the creativity, Nike will still need new photos of their shoes, and Bill Gates still has the money to buy the perfect shot. Just combine a great collection of stock images with a skilled art director and let the concepts flow!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Digital Photography or Film?

This one sounds difficult doesn't it? Film has been around for over a century, it's proven, it's reliable, it's ah,....."artistic". Well so is digitial photography.

Want to know what makes digital photography a medium to be reckoned with? Photographers! Film is the medium not the message. A good photograph taken with a digital camera is still a good photograph.

What about the image quality on a digital camera? Good point...what about it? Have you ever seen a professional using a $3 disposable, or a 1 mega pixel camera phone on a photo shoot? There are quality film cameras and quality digital cameras out there...and there is some real dreck out there in both types. Don't buy a Ford when you want a Ferrari, and you shouldn't your digital camera at the phone store.

The quality of today's professional digital cameras is extreme. They have many huge advantages, and only as many disadvantages as you might expect from any tool. A film camera is not a perfect beast, it also has limitations. Luckily, digital photography squarely targets those disadvantages. Often the areas where digital photography shines is the same place that film falls short, and vice versa. Have you ever tried to quickly find out if you got that shot you need was blurry, or under exposed or in frame? Most of the time your out of luck until you have it developed.

Photography has always been about the image, the framing, the concept, the message, the...."art". Now that digital photography has come of age....Viva digital! Digital uber alles!

Thank God, it's about time!