A DATE WITH DESIGN:
Debra Cowie, Photographer
Welcome to another installment of "A Date With Design," our feature dedicated to introducing & showcasing local and online entrepreneurs & small business owners, but more specifically, their thoughts about the impact of graphic design in their businesses. The goal is to show how graphic design plays a role in each business and industry, as well as how it can benefit a client in unique and various ways. Everyone featured is asked the same six questions.
INDUSTRY: Food/Travel/Lifestyle Photography
FEATURING: Debra Cowie
What is the role graphic design plays in your business?
This question is timely as I’ve recently been giving some thought to graphic design in my work, but maybe not in the way you’d think. As a photographer who creates images to be licensed as stock, I’ve started thinking more about how an image might be used. I’m used to styling and composing my photos in a very deliberate way that creates a flow through the image and a balance of negative and positive space that makes the final product pleasing to the eye (and beautiful!). Lately though, I’ve been thinking about the person who may be looking to license one of my photographs for advertising or promotion and how they may want to work graphic design into the final image. There’s definitely a different thought process behind styling a photograph when you think that the image out of the camera is not final and that it might be completed by a graphic designer adding text or logos. I’m thinking more about the negative space in my photos and how it might look when it contains graphic design elements.
Do you think it's important to invest in quality graphics? If so, why?
Absolutely. Without question. Maybe it’s because my business is about creating things that are visually beautiful but I feel like for something to work – whether it’s a web page or a promotional flyer or a business card – all of the elements need to work together. They need to have the same taste level. You’re a business professional, you’re providing a quality product or service and then you hand out your flyer and… clunk. I think that poor quality graphics that aren’t at the same level of your business can just let you down.
If you could learn to do a portion of your graphics yourself (DIY)
while still maintaining and elevating your brand, what would you most like to learn?
I’m thinking about developing articles that could either be sold as stock features or pitched to blogs and online magazines. For these it would be really great to be able to add text and graphics to my images (in a non-cheesy, non-generic kind of way). I’ve been thinking about creating greeting cards with my photos, too so the ability to add text and lay things out beautifully would be something I’d love to learn.
If you could provide advice regarding graphic design/branding to someone
starting a business in your industry, what would you tell them?
I would tell them not just to think about their branding in terms of who they are, but to think about who and where they want to be. About a year ago I decided to focus on building my photography business based on food and lifestyle. I needed to transition from an old blog that was serving as my online portfolio to something that fit this new focus. I also shifted to using my name as my domain. I worked with a fantastic design specialist to come up with my branding. Through conversations and Pinterest boards she very quickly diagnosed that I was a bit on two different tracks – one was more lighthearted and in keeping with the blog I’d had and my body of work at the time, and the other was more serious, more professional and, perhaps at the time a little aspirational. Faced with the choice, it was easy to side with aspiration! Over the year, I feel like my work and my business has grown (and is still growing) into what I want it to become and I feel like my branding is accommodating that growth, while still being totally “me”. Also, in terms of advice? Don’t skimp on your branding and design. Hiring a professional to do your branding and design can seem like a lot when you are starting out but as a photographer you’re building your business on the quality of your images. You don’t want the taste level of the design of your website to let you down.
What are some exciting projects or events coming up that you want us to know about?
I’m working on a few things at the moment but nothing really ready to share just yet. I will say though that for anyone interested/in need of stock images of food, my work is available for license through StockFood here!
Tell us more about you & your business. Don't forget to include your contact info so people can find you!
I’m a food/travel/lifestyle photographer and visual storyteller, based in Ottawa, Canada. The main focus of my work currently is styling and making photographs of food to be sold as stock. I also work with small creative and food-oriented businesses to create beautiful photographs that highlight their products and spaces.
With design always in mind,
ps. Want to jazz up your design skills? Feel free to sign up for the FREE mini graphic design course here: http://www.butterandhoney.net/design-school/