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    My Advice: Photography Tips

    my-advice-photography-tips_creativewomenscircle_karina-sharpe

    By Andrea McArthur

    Human beings thrive on the visual, especially those who consider themselves creative. The online world reflects this – today our businesses and creative output is supported by image-heavy blogs, websites, and social media feeds which make it important to represent yourself and your imagery in the best possible way.

    This month, I asked three professional photographers for their tips to improve the result when you’re tasked with presenting your products or work in the best possible light.

    Karina Sharpe, Conceptual Artist and Product Photographer
     www.karinasharpe.com.au //  Instagram // @karina_jean_sharpe


    Karina Sharpe

    Imagery is big these days, and high calibre imagery has become both the norm and the expectation. I teach a lot of people how to take good photos more effortlessly – and less by accident – in my Benchtop Photography workshops. These are the three tips that people seem to find of most value.

    1. The direction of LIGHT, in relation to an object’s position and orientation, can be the single most transformational element of your photographs. This is because objects have a form that will show itself differently depending on how its surfaces are lit up. Begin to notice the light around you and where it is coming from. Try and set your arrangements up on something that you can spin around in relation to the light source. Then, play with how the light falls onto, and across, your objects. Observe what gives the most captivating result.

    2. SHADOWS are definitely not your enemy. In most situations we want to engage with our audience on an emotional level, and shadows provide depth, tangibility, realism and substance. However, we want to try and avoid the shadow of one object falling across another object, so become aware and move your objects if shadows are falling in an unfriendly manner. Also, try to avoid double shadows. If you notice this is happening, try to eliminate any extra light sources.

    3. Creative use of BACKDROPS allows our images to standout, be recognisable, and build consistency for our brand. Coloured paper or cardboard are easy options, and things like tiles, fabric, flooring offcuts and fake timbers & textures give even more scope. Choose surfaces with your brand’s ethos in mind; timber is not just timber – white-washed might look refined and adventure-y, whereas a dark rough grain would be more earthy and homespun. Ask yourself, which timber am I?

    Karina Sharpe

    Photo by Karina Sharpe for Kim Wallace Ceramics.

    Jessica K Reftel Evans, Photographer
    www.amorfo.net // Instagram // @amorfophotography


    Jess Evans

    Before setting out on taking your images it’s a massive time saver to work out clear visual objectives. Storyboard what it is that you’re trying to achieve; a colour palette/mood-board and if you want these images to be more editorial/environmental or clean/factual. Take these thoughts with you as you prepare the shoot with backgrounds and props. Keeping the styling consistent is the key.

    To display most products honestly and flatteringly I would suggest using a soft light source. If you don’t have special lights you can use a window. Avoid direct sunlight and diffuse the light with a photographic scrim or thin white fabric. If the shadows are too heavy use a white card or another piece of white fabric on the shadow side of your product. Also, turn off your roof lights since they might change the colour temperature and light of your image. The colour of daylight changes throughout the day. So to make sure that your images have consistent and accurate colour representation use white balance settings. This can be done either on your camera or in your image processing software.

    And remember, you might not get the perfect image the first time. So just practice, experiment and most importantly have fun. Happy shooting!

    Hannah Rose Robinson, photographer
    www.hannahrose.com.au // Instagram // @hannah_rose_robinson


    Hannah Rose Robinson

    Tell a story. In today’s world we are so bombarded with images everywhere we turn that it’s hard to stand out. A visual identity is so important – carving out a style that is unique and becomes a recognisable brand, they tell a story through all the elements involved. Photography is just one element of that but an important one. Use imagery that tells a story, or evokes an emotional response. Put multiple images together to create a mood, or piece together a narrative. Write something to accompany the image/s, tell a story. I want to know what people are about, how they feel, their views on the world. Show your process. This is engaging and people like to be invited into the intimate space you can create with images and words. No matter what the subject matter, food, products, people, how can they be a story. What else is in the picture, what else can help tell my narrative.

    Be unique. We are all guilty of scrolling Instagram or a favourite blog and getting tunnel vision on someone else’s style when we see an image we fall in love with. Try not to get lost in this. I like to see people be different from the masses, find their own vision. There will always be trends that will come and go, but if you spend some time looking deep and hard on what your core vision and personal brand message is, you should be able to start carving out your own style. Be inspired by the images you like, but don’t look to be a copy. Look to what the elements are that you like in those images (maybe it’s the light or tone or mood) and be inspired by them to create your own unique look.

    Switch off. The online world that we are all so intrinsically plugged into these days is immense. It takes up a lot of our time, we devote it our time, and it demands our time. Our technology and online lives are so ingrained in our experiences these days that it frankly makes my head ache. So my big tip is to switch off. Every now and then just switch it all off. Don’t take a picture, don’t blog, don’t scroll. Go do the things you love to blog about and reconnect with them on a fully present scale. It’s easy to miss the essence of a moment, lose sight of the essence of your work- whilst being lost in how to capture and share it. Every now and then, switch off and revaluate the process. Go climb a mountain purely to feel the joy in the ache of your legs, to feel the air sweetly fill your lungs, to drink in that view from the top, be fully present. Don’t take a picture. Make a memory, and keep it for yourself. Put them in your bank to inspire you. It reboots your brain, and will only mean great things for all your creative endeavours.

    Hannah Rose

    By Hannah Rose Robinson for Jude Australia 2015 Winter Campaign. Background illustration by Inga Campbell.

    Film image from 'The Last Nomad' series by Hannah Rose.

    Film image from ‘The Last Nomad’ series by Hannah Rose.

    - – -
    Thank you ladies for sharing your photography tips. I am definitely going to have a play with my camera soon!

    {Title image by Karina Sharpe}

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Designer for the Brisbane Festival. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.

    Tags: Creative, learn, my advice, photography, technique
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: business tips, my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
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    How to give an amazing talk: Part 1 – the killer visual presentation

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    By Jes Egan

    So, you’ve been asked to give a talk to an audience on a topic that you’re somewhat of an expert in (even if the topic is yourself and your career/business!). Congratulations! Speaking publicly may strike fear into the hearts of some, but for those who want to overcome this hesitation or who simply love engaging with a captive audience and sharing your story, I’ve composed this two part series to make your talk even more amazing.

    While the ‘talking’ part of the talk is a given (I’ll go into this in more detail next month), what is optional is a visual presentation to highlight key sections, underline points, and generally give the audience something else to engage with. But, you can’t just create a visual preso ‘off the cuff’ – it requires careful preparation and planning, even if your presenting style is more freeform on the day.

    What is on your slides, paper, boards, or whatever it is that you are presenting from, can be simple but it needs to be considered. Here are my top tips for designing a killer presentation.

    1.Text on screen: Less is more.
    This is personally my biggest bug bear, but also one that I have been guilty of in the past. When putting the presentation together, it is very tempting to put every single word you want to say as copy on the slides. But often times this distracts your audience from what you are saying, given that they are trying to read and listen at the same time. This practice can even lead you down the path of simply reading your presentation from the screen. Use a text slide to highlight the topic or key phrases, and if you are worried that when you leave your audience won’t remember what you said, consider summarising via a flyer, emailable presentation file, or other takeaway item.

    2. Images are your friend.
    Images and infographics on screen can replace words in many instances. Heard the saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’? For a killer presentation, it is true. Find relevant imagery that helps communicate your story, and let the image support what you are saying while your audience listens to your words.

    Infographics can be a creative way to present information/data in an attractive visual format, and it can make it much easier for the audience to digest information that might otherwise be technical or dull. There are many online applications that will assist you to create infographics. Using these where you can keeps your presentation interesting and visually exciting without losing the integrity of the information.

    3. Don’t overlook the basics
    When putting together a presentation, some basic things can be overlooked, but they may be crucial when the purpose of a presentation is to pitch for a job or represent your brand in its best light.

    • Spell check! If the program you are using to compile your presentation doesn’t have a spell check option, simply copy and paste the text into a program that does and fix errors where required. Don’t forget to double check that the company or client’s names (if they appear in the presentation) are spelt correctly. It’s a rookie mistake but often overlooked, and these types of errors are unfortunately more obvious on the big screen!
    • Name your sources. If your presentation includes any statistics, quotes, images or content created by a third part, be sure to give due credit or ask permission from the source. Name it, either on the relevant slides or at the end of the document. Don’t claim it if it is not yours.
    • Check the presentation file loads correctly on a third-party computer, and have a backup saved somewhere else with you when you go in (e.g. on a USB stick or online). Make time to ensure the equipment at your presentation location is able to handle your presentation file, and test it (with time to make changes, or come up with a plan B if necessary).
    • Consider adding slides that ‘Open’ and ‘close’ the presentation, to make sure your audience know when you’re done.

    Finding the balance between what goes in the presentation slides and what you say can be difficult, but spending a little time to consider these things can make for a stronger and more successful presentation. Plus, feeling prepared can help to make you feel more confident for when you get up and present.

    Stay tuned for my next post in September, where I’ll cover things to consider when you actually get up to speak!

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook

     


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, business tips, how to, technical tips, workshop | Comments Off
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    How to design your own creative workspace

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    By Diana Scully

    I was never much of a desk or office person. In my previous profession as a lawyer, I had the opportunity to work at a communal desk and then was later given my own private office. While I do enjoy working in a quiet environment, attending the same location/room/chair each day was a challenge for me. So it’s no surprise that having now moved out of the corporate world and running my own interior design studio, the opportunity to work where it suits me best, is such a benefit to me.

    While I still have my own office, where I get to display, decorate and style my own way, I don’t have to confine myself to this location, every day. Luckily for me, my role as an interior designer means I’m not always designated behind a desk, so I embrace the opportunity to mix things up and find spaces that give me the freedom to work at my greatest capacity and feel creative.

    Transitioning from a practising lawyer into an interior designer, I have learnt how how to set up my work environment to maximise my ability to think and dream creativity for my clients. In this two-part series, I will share with you how you can adapt your environment to give yourself the opportunity to maximum your working capacity and allow yourself to be creative. In my following post, I will interview other creative women from Creative Women’s Circle to see what others are doing to inspire their creativity. Hopefully, during this process, you will gather some inspiration to covert your workspace into an inspiring, creative one.

    Think beyond the desk

    I think we’ve all learnt to believe that you are most productive when you sit at a desk. After all, for many of us, going to work means sitting at your workstation in an office environment, right? Not necessarily. Some of my best work has taken place in my favourite cafe with my headphones on, in the local library on one of their many armchairs with my feet up, or even taking my meeting calls as I walk through a city park or stroll along the beach. After spending the last year in LA and not having a designated workspace, I’ve learnt that I can equally if not more so, be productive at locations that make me happy and accommodate my needs (i.e. internet access). So think beyond the office desk and immerse yourself in various environments to allow yourself to think differently.

    design-a-creative-workspace-2

    Your space is an extension of you

    If however, routine, consistency and organisation is what you need to work productively, then a designated workspace may be the winning formula for you. In that case, before you set yourself up and run down to the nearest office supply store for your standard desk and chair combination, reconsider your space. Why not create an environment that makes you feel excited to come to everyday?

    A few ways to avoid working from a typical workstation:

    • Choose an unconventional desk chair  - maybe a favourite armchair or dining chair? Or set up a few different seating arrangements in your space like a bean bag or sofa.
    • Bring in your favourite table lamp or floor lamp.
    • Choose a dining table for a desk and use boxes, crates, baskets and bedside tables as alternate storage options.
    • Create a vignette of little pots in one corner of your desk, filled with greenery to offer you constant energy throughout your working day.
    • Avoid bare and blank walls by hanging up your favourite prints or posters to keep you motivated and inspired.
    • Place a sheepskin rug at your feet to keep you cosy and warm at the desk.
    • Be adventurous with colour and paint a wall in another hue, or for the bigger risk taker, introduce some wallpaper!

    Co-work spaces and four-legged friends

    Last year, in LA, I spent some time in a co-work space in Santa Monica. Not only was this space a breath of fresh air from the stagnate interiors of the corporate world, it was an opportunity to meet new people, each doing their own thing. A fabulous place to network, discuss and explore your ideas with like minded attitudes and work in an environment that was comfortable, relaxed and free from rules and systems.  Plus, most co-work spaces allow you to pick and choose the days you want to come in – so there’s no on-going commitment!

    One of my favourite perks from working in this LA co-work space was it allowed guests to bring along their dogs for the day. This was such a delight! I instantly felt more relaxed and comfortable in my unfamiliar surrounding with a furry friend at my feet. Generally, dogs were well behaved, even as they roamed the hallways or nuzzled their noses into your legs, begging for their next scratch.

    If you are lucky to have a gorgeous four-legged friend, next time consider taking him on a walk on your next meeting call or to sit beside you when you work from your laptop at your favourite cafe. I found that having a dog near by helped me keep calm and relaxed during my work day and a good excuse to take a break and pop outside for a walk.

    design-a-creative-workspace-3

    Look inside then look around

    To maximise your creative energy each day, you need to understand what sort of environment you work best in. Be open to exploring different locations like a home office, co-work space, local library or cafe and if it suits you, don’t restrict yourself to the same space every day. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new surroundings in hope to encourage you to think a little differently. For some of us, who thrive on routine or require a point of reference for work, don’t limit your environment to a mundane, boring space. Avoid conventional furniture arrangements and use unexpected pieces that will help you create something special. Be passionate about where you work! Setting up a workspace that makes you feel comfortable, as well as address your business needs, will no doubt keep you feeling creative and excited about what you do. Choose to create a space and find a location that reflects who you are. After all, how you work and play is a representation of your business and brand. Embrace this to design a space that is an extension of you.

    { Image credits 1 2 3 }

    Interior Designer, Diana Scully owns and operates her own interior design firm, Spaces by Diana that’s all about designing beautiful, personalised homes to reflect the people who live in it. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces to see and visit from around the world and shares her recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, organise me | Comments Off
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    How to work from home with kids

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    By Emma Clark

    The ‘juggle’ of working motherhood has become a bit of a cliché, but when your days involve filling sippy cups while simultaneously emailing clients on your phone and trying to stop a baby chewing through your laptop cord, it certainly does feel like a circus.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I run a handmade furniture business together, so we use a combination of grandparents, crèche and flexible work hours to care for our two young sons. This works well for us at the moment, but the wheels often fall off and I regularly find myself needing to work from home while the kids are around. It can be a challenge – there’s been plenty of of nappy changes on meeting room floors and client calls while playing Lego, but I’ve managed to come up with a mish-mash of solutions that work for our family, and may work for yours too!

    Get a routine
    By routine, I don’t mean a steadfast, inflexible schedule. Just having a regular order to your day makes things much easier for you and your kids. Having a routine helps kids feel secure, and helps you feel like the chaos is at least somewhat under control. I usually try and get any errands or kid’s activities done in the morning so I know we can be home for my youngest son’s afternoon nap. Speaking of naptime…

    Naps are sacred
    There is no one as productive as a parent who is working during a kid’s naptime. Having a time limit on your work can make you super-efficient and forces you to concentrate. I sometimes manage to complete as much work in the two hours that my son is napping as I could in a whole day of being in the studio. You can save up any phone calls, designing or work that requires your full attention for those magic hours. Grab a cup of tea, scribble out a list, then power through it. Try to avoid any distractions (ahem, Instagram) and hammer out as much work as you can in that time.

    Embrace technology
    This is obviously a personal decision, but popping Play School on the iPad keeps my older toddler occupied while my younger one sleeps… and I can get some work done. Watching TV or playing with an app can also save the day if you need to take your kids to a meeting, or make an important call that you can’t be interrupted for.

    However, technology can be a double-edged sword. Being able to get your emails on your phone at the playground or order materials online while pushing a pram is a lifesaver for many working parents. On the flipside, it can be hard to constantly switch from building a block tower to emailing a client, and you can end up feeling like you are not really present either with work or with your kids. Setting limits is a good idea, for your own sanity and for your kids. I try not to use my phone in front of my little guys unless it’s really necessary.

    Recruit apprentices
    Depending on what kind of work you do, you can let your kids ‘help’ you work. This is particularly great for any kind of hands-on creative work. My older son has a mini workbench set up at our furniture workshop and can happily spend hours hammering away. If you are working on a computer, give your kids some pens and paper so they can ‘work’ too. Office supplies make awesome toys! A stack of Post It notes, a highlighter and a holepunch can easily entertain a toddler for enough time for you to get some work done.

    Be creative
    Sometimes, no matter how organised you are or how independent your kids are, you have a deadline and you really just need to work. This is when you can get creative and call in back up. Ask a friend to hang out with your kids for a couple of hours so you are free to work (and return the favour!). Take your kids to the playground and explain that you are going to make phone calls while they play. Work from the library or a café on the weekend while your partner takes over kid duties. A photographer friend of mine takes her kids to an indoor playcentre with free wifi so she can edit while they run around for a few hours. Like everything to do with parenting, no one solution will work every time, so it’s a good idea to have a few back up options.

    Relax
    No matter what you think of Disney’s Frozen, sometime you do just have to “Let it go, let it goooooooo!” Your house will probably be messier than usual, you might not get as much done as you planned, and your kids (and you!) might still be in pyjamas at 3pm. That’s okay. Nobody is a perfect parent, and nobody is a perfect creative business owner. Working from home with kids is hard work, so embrace the chaos and remember, tomorrow is a new day.

    Emma Clark is an interior designer, writer and podcaster who, alongside her husband Lee, runsGratton Design, a timber furniture and architectural joinery company. She blogs at Worst House Best Street and posts endless photos of her sons on Instagram at @emmamakesthings.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, my advice | Comments Off