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Sunday 9 June 2013

Graphic Designer: Yes or No?

What is a graphic designer, and should you use one?

This is a question for the business side of things, rather than the nuts-and-bolts of photography, and it comes out of the leap from hobby photographer into the world of selling your work. This could mean trying to edge into the stock photo market, or it could mean hanging prints on coffee shop walls with a card and a price. Either way, and especially if you post your work online, you're going to need a logo. You can use it to brand yourself and your business, but I also use mine as a watermark over any photos I post online to make sure the photo gets accredited to me if anyone tries to use it.

I originally didn't plan to use the services of a graphic designer to design my logo, but the opportunity sort of fell into my lap – and I'm glad that it did.

My original logo was constructed by a very good friend of mine after I shot a music video for her daughter. I quite liked the logo, so I didn't see the need to hire a graphic designer to do one up for me.

The layout of this logo was awesome and I love the emphisis on the CTF which was very important when the logo was reworked. The 35 mm film reel was also a brilliant touch.

However, after I did a shoot at the Chilliwack Flight Fest I was approached by one of the organizers about my logo. The organizer asked if I would mind if he sent my logo to a friend of his for a bit of rework before he posted the credit for my work. 

It turned out that his friend was one of the guys over at Big Cat Productions, and over the next week or two my logo was worked and reworked. Now you see the final results all over my media pages. I use it as a watermark, as headers and footers, on business cards. Anything and everything that has my name has my logo from Big Cat Productions. (You can take a look at some of their other work here.)

As you can see both are simalar in design concept which is what I liked, but there is a flow to the professional one that just works for who I am. The 35 mm film reel still exists and the CTF is also still emphisised but in a different aspect. I also loved the plain black on gray and if you follow other sites I am on you will see this trend throughout when I can control the look.

Even though I was pretty fond of the old one, at the end of the day I'm glad that I was able to use professional services to develop it further. The thing to keep in mind is that your logo is your public identity. It defines you and your work in many cases, since this is the first point of contact for perspective clients. You want to put your best foot forward, and that might just mean shelling out a couple of bucks to get someone to do it for you. As a photographer, you probably have a pretty good eye in terms of composition and design, but you might not have the program experience to sit down at a computer and put something like a logo together yourself.

In the beginning stages of setting up a photography business, you'll be cook, captain and cabin boy all rolled into one. There isn't a need for (or a way to necessarily pay) employees or assistants to work for you, so you'll be in charge of getting everything done – from scheduling to billing to advertising to marketing to graphic design. This isn't a bad thing, because it'll teach you a lot about yourself as well as the business.

However, always try to remember that your primary focus should be to shoot and shoot and shoot some more. We're in the photography business because we love to get out and capture the world with a camera. The time you spend doing that is what pays you, both financially and creatively, and that's what you should be spend most of your time doing. 

But even in those early days when you're doing it all yourself, I think it's worth it to get a professional graphic designer to do up your logo. You can see the difference between my original logo and the one I now use for everything – which is basically a cleaner, more professional-looking reworked version of the one I liked in the first place.

Remember, when anyone searches for your company the first thing they see when they land on your pages is your logo. You control what that first impression is – and in this case I can say I am beyond glad that I chose to let a graphic designer have a crack at it. 

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