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Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting inspired for Photography

You get these "I don't know what to do next..." phases? When you want to do some photography, but your creative ideas simply ran out... Well, I can tell you what I do. You should know that what works for me may not be right for someone else. I am more of a "street photographer", I don't direst my shots, don't plan them. I'm not into models or stills in particular and so I depend solely on inspiration.

1. Check out the weather.
When I have an idea what I want to take pictures of, it's easy.. I go there. When I have no idea what to shoot, I simply go without knowing where. I check the weather to decide on the general idea. Warm days (without clouds in the sky) are good for urban shots since I don't need the sky in the frame, and it's mostly shaded anyway. Warm days with nice clouds are perfect for IR or landscape. Colder days are great for nature, Macro and reflections (puddles of rain), and they are also good for indoor shots and moody landscapes. Think of nice places you know that can natch these conditions, and simply go. The world is moving, and all you need is watch it revolve around you.

2. Get the perspective of your sensor
So, now you know the direction you match the gear. Wide lenses for landscapes, tele lenses for nature, middle length for urban...
I love taking the lenses I plan on (not the whole bag) and limit myself to the gear. That gives me aim at what I look at and help me focus on a perspective looking at the world. Looking at everything without that focus can make me miss a few ideas. It's kind of limiting yourself to think like the camera, instead of the person you are. I always feel more focused as a photographer at seeing things, than I feel when I don't have the camera on me.

3. Watch and think before you shoot
Don't force yourself to shoot. Blend into your surroundings. Feel the tempo of what happens around you and things will look differently. Take some time to examine things from a wider point of view, and then start breaking it don to details, scenes, corners. For an example, look at a street and feel the commotion. Direction people go, people that stand, compositions, the way the light falls, advertising billboards, colors, shapes, patterns.. now break it down to what will happen if you focus on a someone if he passes the building in a exact second.. What if you take the tall building from a wide angle, including a bus stop from a low angle... So, take some time to look before you act.

4. Dare yourself to try it differently
You've seen something interesting? Good! Now try and think of the way to present it. If you present it exactly like you see it, it has to be really special not to look corny. I mean, that's the way everybody sees it all the time... So, take a second and think as a photographer. The angle changes a lot. Maybe go to a higher point of view, maybe a lower, maybe through a reflection, maybe against the light, and maybe with a different depth of field. The point is to challenge yourself to think differently because there is someone that you want to show it to, and you need to make him stop and think to make an impact.

5. And back to the first stage... your ideas
This is a very important stage for a creative photographer, one that wants his pictures to be more than beautiful and have a meaning. The ideas don't have to come from planned scenes. You have an opinion on things, a personal thought. How can you make it come to life through photography? That's maybe the hardest part, but when you figure this out - you are on your way to making a difference. People want to see ideas and opinion in photographs, and not only beautiful colors. When you look at something you want to shoot stop for a second. Think. How can I show it in a way it will show it is you that's taking the picture. A lot of who you are as a photographer hides in this.

Good luck

- Posted by Gilad on DA

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Glossary of Printing Terms

I just came across this rather nice list of Printing terms. Very very handy for those folks who dabble in print design. :Click Here:

- thanx to
Ryan Ford

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine




Find a whole world of architecture at the heritage and architecture centre.

Advertising Agency: EURO RSCG C&O, Suresnes, France
Creative Directors: Olivier Moulierac, Jérôme Galinha
Art Director: Nicolas Harlamoff
Copywriter: Alain Picard
Photographer: Denys Vinson
Published: September 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ideas that live in your head.

Advertising Agency:
JWT Singapore
Creative Director: Ali Shabaz
Art Director: Mikkel Kroijer
Copywriter: Andrew McKechnie
Illustrator: Otto Dickmeiss
Additional credits: Thomas Yang, Joseph Cheong
Published: October 2007

Brand building to attract and retain the best talent

- Punita Jasrotia / New Delhi

The IT industry being people-oriented, what differentiates the best from the rest is the “quality of human capital” in every organisation. While there is plenty of talent available, the difficulty comes in finding the talent with the “best fit” to the organisation. Potential employees would like to associate themselves with companies which have a “brand” of success, leadership, people development initiatives and also instill a deep sense of pride and commitment.
Not much effort has been made by organisations to improve their corporate image internally. However, with increasing global competition and a more mature work environment, Indian IT companies have also started looking at this facet of branding.

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is all about the company’s value in the market, a timeless process that in today’s scenario has gained even more significance. It is essentially a combination of the reputation of the organisation, the career offer and the corporate culture existing in the company.
Typically, there are two types of employer branding exercises. One is for prospective employees and the other for the current set of employees. In case of the former, the employer branding initiatives are targeted at building mindshare in potential recruits about the company as a preferred place to work. This can be in the form of communication through advertisements, third-party endorsements through the media or going to campuses. “Internal employees might not know about all the product or solution offerings of the company and it becomes necessary to inform and educate them,” says Mita Brahma, the head of Nucleus Software’s corporate HR department.

Growing importance

Employer branding has become more critical in today’s times, as most professionals are looking at a stable career and establishing a long-term relationship with the company. D K Srivastava, the vice president of HR at HCL Comnet says, “It is said that an unsatisfied customer tells ten people about his experience while an unsatisfied employee tells a hundred. Employer branding reflects the work culture in an organisation. Therefore, it is of much significance. Through right branding, the company can recruit the best talent and reinforce its positioning amongst its employees.”
A survey conducted by Hewitt Associates reveals that more companies are now focusing on employer branding to “attract employees” and keep them engaged. There is a direct correlation between an effective employer brand and achieving business success. It helps in retaining current employees, increasing employee satisfaction, attracting job candidates, and motivating employees in their work, which leads to excellent business gains. The purpose is to use the internal brand as the seedbed for aligning their people programmes to deliver significantly improved business results.
This is evident from some of the recent initiatives taken by organisations to make the workplace more employer-friendly and implement development concepts like “spiritual quotient” and “value-building”. Some companies have gone even further and appointed “internal branding consultants”, targeted to have a better relationship with their employees. For example, Texas Instruments, whose brand mantra is “conscious” and “consistent”, which gets reflected in all their activities, be it company journals, awards or regular meetings. HCL Comnet, whose brand value signifies “exuberance”, has developed a “Force of One” campaign that signifies innovative attitude and the ability to individually make a difference. Or Cognizant, whose employer brand is “Celebrating Work”, which gets reflected in its participative, empowering and transparent work environment.
Cap Gemini Ernst & Young on the other hand, likes to lay emphasis on both internal and external customers. “Paying attention to what matters to employees, and then delivering on that promise, keeps CGE&Y at the top of the list for the most talented employees,” says Atul Srivastava, who heads people relationship management at the company. “The greatest goal of Cap Gemini Ernst and Young is to be the ‘Employer of Choice’, a company that can deliver a wide range of career opportunities, a company known everywhere for its ability to develop top professional talent delivering work of top professional quality. We have used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the basis for categorising retention programmes and selecting a broad range of programmes which can best address employee motivation and satisfaction issues,” says Atul Srivastava, the head of people relationship management at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
Commenting on the changing scenario, Arun Tadanki, the chief executive officer of, says that it also gets reflected in the kind of advertisements taken out by the companies. “Till recently, employment ads were just showing the job description of the vacancy. The focus in the last two-three years has shifted and is largely driven by the IT & ITES employers, to create a powerful image for the organisation as a “dream place to work”. In the ITES industry, the job of a customer service agent is more or less the same irrespective of the company he is working in. What differentiates one ITES company from another is largely its employer brand image. This depends on a whole host of factors like how successful the company is perceived to be; what is the vision and mission; what kind of work culture they have; what kind of career growth opportunities they offer, etc,” he says. On the contrary, Srivastava of HCL Comnet has a different viewpoint: “We expect to see more innovation within organisations to improve our corporate image. Training programmes, motivational classes, employee career plans have become a common phenomenon now days. These things are employee deliverables. What organisations would be aiming towards is not employee satisfaction but employee delight!”


Pramode Sadarjoshi, the director of Human Resources, Cognizant Technology Solutions, points out that employer branding is not an easy task as it is a long-term process. “It takes tremendous effort and a strategic blend of logic and intuition in the brand-building exercise. The company has to have superior leadership, operational excellence and customer focus, and most importantly people-orientation in a genuine way, for the branding exercise to be successful,” he adds.
Companies have been focussing on more advertising than taking concentrated efforts in building relationships. According to “Riding the Wave” survey (conducted by the Career Innovations Research Group), the future might be in danger for those companies who may otherwise invest too much in mass media and little in personal contact programmes. As per the survey, the most believable forms of communication are not the advertisements, literature and websites, but the behaviour of employees and accounts of their own work experience. Srivastava of HCL Comnet states, “I believe that the most credible forms of communication are not the ads, literature and websites, but the behaviour of one’s own employees and accounts of their own work experience.”
Employer branding is a part of overall branding strategy of a company. For this to happen, the HR department should ensure that there is a constant flow of communication within the organisation and there is no conflict with respect to internal and external image. Both these factors are very significant. “Every single employee should buy into the vision, commitment and ethics of the company and should be a walking advertisement for the company. Doing a major employer branding exercise would be nothing if the company’s own employees do not believe what is being said,” says Sadarjoshi. Agrees R Shekar, the senior vice president and head HR, corporate strategy and business excellence of Polaris Software: “An organisation must adopt a concerted and focused approach to building and maintaining its reputation as a ‘Best Workplace’ and constantly work towards reinforcing this branding through continuous exercises.”
A typical branding exercise would involve identifying the USP (unique selling proposition) of the company and articulating the DNA of the company, highlighting the competitive advantages of this DNA and creating a consistent brand language across the organisation in all forums to all the constituencies. Says DK Srivastava, the vice president of HR at HCL Comnet, “The most significant aspect of any organisation is to realise its inherent values and the image that it would like to project to its audiences. The next step is to evolve the right messages and reinforce those values again and again. And the most important part is to act on what you say. Plain words can’t get a brand. A brand has to be built on action.”
Employer branding is however limited to bigger companies, with very few initiatives taken by smaller players.

Future course

As companies come up with innovative branding exercises this trend is expected to be very popular in the future. It would however entail a lot of effort from the top management. “What we have seen so far is just the beginning. Every company, no matter how small or new, would want to come out with a ‘niche’ image, brand, product or service. So there will be intense competition amongst all the players to get branded for something unique,” says Sadarjoshi.
Experts point out that the next couple of months will witness companies engaged in innovative methods to stay ahead in the race. These may include hiring image building experts to enhance the brand value, providing competitive compensation, enabling foreign postings with dollar salaries and stock options, or offering challenging work environment in cutting-edge technology areas.

Employer branding

Employer branding is a derivative of the following factors:
  • Impressive and consistent track record in business leadership.
  • Demonstrated investment in growth by way of future products, R&D spend, articulation of the roadmap ahead, and viable strategies.
  • The organisation should clearly be perceived as a place where every employee could learn and develop skills in the latest technologies, concepts and knowledge areas.
  • Aggressive, competitive compensation and benefits package.
  • Transparent and merit-oriented performance management system, wherein the polarisation between various levels of performance is both visible and fair.
  • Very high score on the leadership, business conduct and customer satisfaction, or any other parameter evaluated by an independent third party.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Typographer's ToolBox

This is a little resource for anybody interested in graphic design. Here, I will expel my knowledge in a very basic manner. Previous versions of the Toolbox have been quite wordy, so I'm going to try to cut down and get straight to the point.

Typeface Use
Use one typeface per design. If absolutely necessary, use 2. However, make sure each has a specific purpose. One might be for important information, the other might be for body copy.

Lorem Ipsum
Lorem Ipsum is dummy copy. It's filler just to see how a paragraph of type will look on a design. Check out [link] for a Lorem Ipsum Generator.

Design Software
The following is a list of design software and what it should be used for:

  • Adobe Illustrator.
Use this for single-page layouts, logo design, illustration, typesetting. Do not use Illustrator for editing photographs, making website layouts, or making multiple-page designs. It gets a bit laggy when setting a big block of text, so use InDesign for the larger jobs.

  • Adobe Photoshop
Use this for editing photography, drawing photographic imagery, and designing web-page layouts. Do not use Photoshop for typesetting, making document layouts, or multiple-page designs.

  • Adobe InDesign
Use this for multiple page layout design. It can also be used for typesetting, but it does not have as many drawing capabilities as Illustrator. It's really best when you have a lot of text to set. Do not use InDesign for editing photographs or making websites.

  • Macromedia Flash
This is ONLY good for animation/interfaces. It is functional as a website design program, but it requires a lot of additional coding knowledge that many creative people do not have. Do not use Flash for any print work at all. It is only good for web use.

  • Macromedia Freehand
This program is comparable to Adobe Illustrator. It doesn't work exactly the same, but it can do a lot of the same illustration things. If you're comfortable with Freehand, by all means use it as you would Illustrator. However, be aware that it is not compatible with any Adobe programs, and is likely to be discontinued because of the recent acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe.

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver
This is what I use for website compilation. I don't actually design the website here. Instead, I drag and drop elements and do some code editing. It's simple and fast, but not entirely necessary if you can write code by hand. It is also known for being a poor WYSIWYG, in that what it shows you is not always exactly how it'll look in a web browser.

  • Quark Xpress
Do not use Quark for anything. Some people are happy with Quark, but I am wary to trust them. Quark is comparable to InDesign in many ways, but its usability is very low and it is not at all intuitive. All good printers have switched over to InDesign, so there is absolutely no reason to continue using Quark unless you're stuck in the stone age. Okay, that may have been harsh, but Quark has become dramatically surpassed by InDesign in every way. There's no reason to keep using a sub-par program.

  • Final Cut Pro
This is for film/video editing. I prefer this program to After Effects, but the downside is that Final Cut Pro is only for Mac computers. Final Cut is the industry standard for film editing.

  • Adobe After Effects
Comparable to Final Cut Pro, but a little more confusing. The interface is similar to most familiar Adobe interfaces, but it doesn't functional as well as it should and runs a little slower than I'd like. Still, it can do most everything Final Cut can.

Setting type is an important skill. So is spelling. When setting type, give it at least 5pt of tracking, and it's usually a good idea to give it good leading. Make the leading equal or 2pts higher than the size of the type, and you should be fine. Also, be sure to kern by hand. Kerning is adjusting the spacing in between individual letters, while tracking is the spacing in between all of the letters as a whole. Computers cannot kern well by themselves just yet, so it is up to designers to know how to do it.

Finding a good print source is important for any designer. Most offset printers are crap, so here are some things to look for:

1. Do they care about your project? If they treat your project like a hassle, don't give them your business.

2. Do they print using PMS (pantone) colors? A good printer will. This is also referred to as offset printing. A good offset printer will use Heidleberg printers.

3. Are they willing to work with you on the price? Good printers can give you discounts if you ask. They might not be huge, but every bit helps.

4. Nearby Location. It's a good idea to find a printer close to you. Don't use internet-based printing companies unless their printing locations is nearby. Why does this matter? You need to be able to go on press checks, and by living nearby you'll also save on shipping costs. If you can pick the work up yourself, why bother shipping?

5. Do they allow and encourage press checks? A press check is when you, the designer, visit the printer to see the status of your print run. Check to make sure the color is accurate, and there is no blurring or smudging. If your project is worth a lot of money, most printers will treat you to lunch as well.

6. Do they support InDesign? Most all reputable printers have switched from Quark to InDesign, but there are still a handful that don't yet support it. Don't bother using a company that doesn't support InDesign, as they are clearly outdated.

Two good printers in the Los Angeles area:
Typecraft - These guys print all of the stuff for AIGA. They're expensive, but they're damn good.
Digital Room - A small print house. They mostly say they do 4-color printing, but they can also do PMS. Prices are cheap, but they can be a bit of a hassle to work with. They require a credit card to begin work, and rarely return calls on time. You really get what you pay for, in terms of service.

Logo Design
A good logo is unique, looks good, is appropriate, and is very graphic.
So, to elaborate, the logo should not look like any other logo. It should be pleasing to look at. It should fit with the company it's supposed to be for. It should be able to scale up and down and still look the same (you shouldn't lose lines or shapes at small sizes).

Logo vs. Logotype
A lot of idiots have argued with me on this. A logo is an all-inclusive term used to refer to any symbol used to represent something. A logotype is a logo made out of type.
If you want to get more technical, a mark is the symbol portion of an identity. A logotype is the lettering portion. A signature is the entire identity system as a whole.

Be Simple
Keep your message simple. Don't overcomplicate the idea you're trying to convey. If your design looks good, but is conceptually weak, then you've failed in design. Design isn't supposed to just look good, it's supposed to give people a message quickly and clearly. This is why graphic design is referred to as a communication art.

Soliciting Work
If you know of a company that needs a new logo, don't go out of your way to tell them how crappy their logo is. Instead, have a meeting with the owner of the company. Talk to him about how you have some idea that could improve his business. Let him know how a new or appropriate identity could attract more people and make him look more professional. Do not hand him your design. Even if you don't want money, it's good to get in the habit of getting paid for your work. If he owns a restaurant, he can pay you in food. If he owns a car wash, he can give you some free car washes. Your design is valuable, so don't short-change yourself.

Should You Be a Graphic Designer?
Not all artists are graphic designers, but all graphic designers are artists.
Just because you can draw well does not mean you have the knack for design. A good graphic designer looks at intricate details, and understands that everything has meaning. A good designer also has the ability to see things through the non-designer's eye. If you've always had a preoccupation with colors and shapes, see if graphic design is something you might be interested in.

- by Ryan Ford on DA
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