Edyta Szyszlo Photography

August 3, 2009

Part 1: A Graphic Designer’s Photography Tips on Improving the Appeal of Lifestyle Brands & Products!

Guest Posts,Product Photography — Edyta @ 4:18 AM

prop styling edyta szyszlo photography

Photo: Edyta Szyszlo Photography

Drum roll please!  Here’s the official part one of this wonderful series from Lisa of Hello Designers.

Edyta and I have worked together with clients such as Paper Source, Baby Dolls Boutique and Paperly. At Paper Source I was the Senior Design Manger for the catalog and web departments until I started Hello Designers in 2009. The Paper Source brand is creative and inspirational. With 32 stores nationwide, they have an established brand because of their strong founder, Sue Lindstrom. If you haven’t been to a store or event, go!

paper source

Courtesy of Paper Source

Every touch point of this brand is meant to inspire the customer in their personal projects. A brand touch point is anything that your customer comes into contact with. From your website to your retail windows and your product hang tags. Using Paper Source as an example, I am going to walk through a few ideas on how to prepare and plan for a catalog or marketing brochure. The Paper Source seasonal catalog is the visual and merchandising core which leads to the store merchandising, website and company’s blog. When planning any printed piece start on page 1, then move forward. Save the cover for last, it is easier this way, trust me.

paper source

Courtesy of Paper Source

At Paper Source, I worked directly with the CEO and Director of Merchandising to help fill the pages of the catalog with product stories. Each page should have a maximum amount of merchandise, otherwise you will overwhelm your customer. I know you may have thirty gorgeous products that must go on that page, but your customer will find it confusing and simply skip the page, which is the worst thing they can do. Try to think of the catalog as the first touch point your customer has with your brand which will lead them into your store, Etsy shop or website. I believe that printed materials are meant to be used as an introduction to your brand and should contain a solid message from a marketing and design standpoint. You can’t be everything to everybody. That would dilute your brand and again lead to customer confusion.

thumbnail sketches

Courtesy of Hello Designers

After our planning meetings, I have a page by page outline of what the book is going to contain. Although my head is reeling with ideas and I would love to jump right into the photo shoot, this is purely an text based outline. My next step is to take the outline and sketch thumbnails for each spread and start planning my shots. Consider pacing when you layout your spreads. You don’t want to take the customer from wedding invitations straight to back to school products without a smooth transition. I suggest creating about three to four templates within a grid system that you can plug into place. Two pages of template 1, two pages of template 2, one page of template 3, etc. As you create a pattern in the book your customer will understand the flow of the piece and start to know where to look for information. Similarly you should create three to four type styles. I can go on forever about type styles, as I am a lover of type, but to keep it simple, any well designed piece should have:

1. Header type style

2. Sub-head type style

3. Body Copy type style

4. Footer type style

Here are a few resources for fonts, type styles and books about fonts:

Typophile is an open typographic community with discussion forums and resources for type design, theory, and technique for professionals and beginners.
Typographica, edited by Stephen Coles, is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design.
Smashing Magazine

mood board

Courtesy of Hello Designers

Once I have established the flow of the book and have marked which pages need photography, I start to pull inspiration for the shots. This is where the wonderful world wide web and my handy Google Reader account come into play. These are called mood boards and are very useful for your photographer so they can visually understand the look you are trying to create in terms of lighting, angles and techniques. You should have a specific visual look in mind and look for images that will help aid you in achieving that look. Besides the many fabulous wedding and stationery blogs out there, here are a few additional resources to find beautiful images.

Getty Images

Veer

Corbis

You should not use images you find online for our marketing materials because, well, obviously that is illegal. Instead you should consider hiring a fabulously charming photographer like Edyta :)

I have my client review and sign off on the mood boards and structural flow of the book. That way there are no surprises after the photoshoot and I can dive right into the layout and design. Just think: We haven’t even started designing yet, we are still planning and art directing!

Be on the look out for my next segment which we will continue this conversation and move into styling and propping your shoot. Cheers!

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