6 Essential Elements of Design for Photography

By: Isabel Freedman

It is important to understand the various elements of photographic design if you want to create beautiful, compelling photographs, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on six essential elements of design that should be considered.

 

Color

Color is an essential element of design, one which heavily influences the viewer’s emotional response to an image. There are an infinite number of colors, and each one can stimulate a different feeling, memory or emotion. Cool tones, such as blue or green, create a fresh, tranquil vibes. The saturation (intensity) of the color can also affect the emotion that is elicited. For example, a deep dark blue often creates a feeling of darkness or somberness. Alternatively, a bright robin’s-egg blue creates a light, cheerful mood. One of the first things we notice when we look at an image, whether consciously or subconsciously, is its colors. Is the palette bright or dark? Warm or cool? Saturated or washed out? High or low contrast? The human eye is highly sensitive to color, and this is why it is one of the most essential elements of design.

Color, Design, Element, Spring

The color of this Robins Egg creates a light cheerful mood

Texture

Although texture may not be instantaneously obvious to the eye, it can add impact to images. If texture is used properly in a photograph, it can create drama, convey information, add an aesthetically pleasing contrast and/or stimulate a feeling of physical familiarity. For example, a photograph showing the complex, patterned texture of a rock can create drama when counterbalanced against other objects in a photo..  Second, texture can provide information. In a photo of a painting, for example, a rough, distressed looking frame would suggest that the painting itself is old. A close up photo of the trunk of a tree may be used to highlight the bark, simply in order to create an image with a jagged, harsh pattern. For example, a photo of a soft blanket may elicit the feel, and even the smell, of our own childhood blankets. We recognize this texture, because we have felt it ourselves.

Bark, Texture, Tree, Design, Elements

The texture of this tree bark is familiar to us

Line

The effective use of lines can also create compelling photographs. Lines are one of the most important elements of composition. There are many different types of lines, including diagonal, horizontal, vertical, and curved. Diagonal lines are the most visually dynamic, and they can create a visually appealing composition. Horizontal lines create horizons and also divide the image into separate parts. These lines tell the viewer where to look, and also from what angle the photo was taken – if the horizon line is above eye-level, one may imply that the photographer took the photo from a low vantage point. Vertical lines create a feeling of permanence, power and structure. The lines of a tall tree, skyscraper or flag-pole are all examples of vertical lines. Curved lines create a calming, relaxed feeling, because of the smooth and soft shape that they create. The curvy lines in water, or on a leaf, create a soft and gentle look. Lines can create depth by leading inwards, as depicted by the path in the image below. Lines sometimes also lead the eyes to a focal point in an image. These are called, not surprisingly, “leading lines,” and they can be useful for emphasis and direction.

Path, Line, Dimension, Element, Design

The lines of the pathway create dimension and direction. They lead the eye inwards

Shape

For design purposes, there are two main categories of shapes: geometric and organic. Geometric shapes include triangles, squares, circles, rectangles and the other polygons that are derived using mathematical formulas. Organic shapes refer to those of the natural world, such as a plant or animal. Shapes add information, dimension, depth, emotion and familiarity. For example, the silhouette of the hiker in the background of this picture creates depth, mood and perspective and conveys information. The silhouette tells us that the photograph was taken late in the day, creating a mysterious and adventurous mood. The organic curves and shape tell us who this person is, and where they are.

Shape, Hiker, Sunset, Design, Element

The silhouette of the figure in this image creates an organic shape

Viewpoint and Camera Angle

The perspective of a photograph is one of the first things we notice about it. Photos may be taken from many different angles, but the basic ones are low, canted, birds-eye, wide, telephoto and fish-eye. Low angle shots are taken by pointing up towards the subject. They create a feeling that the subject is dominant and powerful, because it is higher than and looms over the viewer. In contrast, high angles are taken from above the subject, and they suggest vulnerability and weakness in the subject. Canted angles, also known as “Dutch Tilt,” are images taken from diagonal, unusual or slanted angles. These images are meant to create an uneasy, disoriented effect within the frame. Canted angles are often seen in action shots, and they also convey a message of motion and ambiguity.

 

Canted Angle, Design, Elements, Angle

This action shot is an example of a canted angle. The tilt of the frame creates an unusual viewpoint

Space

There is positive and negative space in a photograph. Positive space is that which forms a shape, subject or object. Negative space, also known as white space, is everything else. Space can convey a feeling or elicit emotion in the viewer. For example, a vast amount of negative space in the background of a photograph can create a sense of loneliness and isolation. A photograph with little negative space can create a claustrophobic feeling of entrapment or suffocation. If the subject is looking towards negative space, we immediately wonder what is beyond the frame, and what exactly she is looking at. When negative space is used this way, it creates a sense of mystery and ambiguity.

Space, Design, Elements, Negative

The vast amount of negative space in this photograph creates a feeling of loneliness and vulnerability.

Of all six of the elements of design, not one of them is more important than another. Each one of them has a unique way of delivering a message, whether it is through texture or negative space, through color or the curve of a line. I hope that this explanation of essential design elements is helpful, especially for those who are looking to evoke specific meaning through their photographs.

Classify Basic Typefaces: A Brief Overview

By: Isabel Freedman

 

Today there are thousands of typefaces available to designers, printers, writers and artists. The typefaces all have their own histories and specific uses. On the surface, two typefaces may look similar, but there are always slight differences that make them unique. I hope that this brief overview will help you distinguish the characteristics of some basic typefaces.

Typefaces are usually categorized into two main groups: Serif and Sans-serif. A “serif” is a little projection at the end of a stroke of a letter, like this:

Typeface, Serif, Font, Style

Example of a Serif style font

As you might imagine, Serif typefaces include these little lines, and Sans-serif typefaces do not.
Serif Typefaces

Serif typefaces are divided into six subgroups: Blackletter, Humanist, Old Style, Transitional, Modern and Slab Serif. These typefaces are commonly used in magazines, newspapers and books, and are considered particularly readable in large blocks of text.

  1. Blackletter was the first letter-form to be widely used throughout Germany and other European countries. These typefaces have heavy, angular strokes that create an overall old fashioned feel. Some examples of Blackletter include Textura, Schwabacher, Cursiva and Fraktur. The image below is an example of Blackletter Fraktur, which is the most common form of the typeface.
Blackletter Fraktur, Typeface, Font,

Blackletter Fraktur is an example of Blackletter Typeface

 

  1. Humanist typefaces have a softer feel than Blackletter, but are still traditional, with gentle and round strokes, and slanted and bracketed serifs. These typefaces are distinguishable because of the sloped crossbar in the lowercase e.
Humanist, Font, Typeface, Example

Example of a Humanist Font

  1. Old Style typefaces are popular for printed text, and are characterized by wide, rounded serifs. Caslon, Garamond and Bembo are all examples of Old Style The photo below is an example of Garamond.

 

Garamond, Font, Old Style, Typeface

Garamond Font is an example of an Old Style Typeface

  1. The most commonly used typefaces today for printed text are called Transitional. These typefaces have an appearance somewhere between Old Style and more modern contemporary typefaces. Transitional typefaces have wider letterforms compare to Old Style. The well-known Times New Roman font is in this category, and so are Baskerville and Georgia.
Times New Roman, Transitional, Typeface, Font

Times New Roman Font is a well known Transitional Typeface

 

  1. The previously described traditional typeface groups have as their origin the pen-based letterforms used at the time by writers, calligraphers and scriveners. A break with that connection to handwritten lettering occurred in the twentieth century when Modern typefaces were first created. Many Modern typefaces are used for titles and headlines, because they are not as readable in small font size. These typefaces can be visually striking, and are often used in advertising copy.

    Modern, Typeface, Font, advertising

    Modern Typefaces are commonly used in advertising

  2. Slab-Serif. These typefaces, direct precursors to our current Modern typefaces, are also used for advertising, and were designed specifically for this purpose, and not for blocks of text in books and writings. They were introduced during a time of rapid industrialization. This new age called for promotion, which created a need for bold and eye-catching typefaces. Billboards, posters and flyers used Slab-Serif typefaces, demanding attention from onlookers.
Slab Serif, Typeface, Font, Serif

This is an example of a Slab Serif Typeface

Sans-Serif Typefaces

 

Moving on into Sans-Serif typefaces, early typeface designers appear to have found these unattractive, referring to them as gothic or grotesque (which actually became the names of a couple of Sans-Serif typefaces). This kind of typeface became extremely popular in the 20th Century, and can be broken into three categories: Humanist, Geometric and Transitional.

Sans-Serif typefaces are ideal for digital text and print headings because the absence of serifs makes them have a particularly clean appearance when used over electronic media. For example, Veranda, a Sans-Serif typeface, was designed especially for digital use.

Verdana, Sans Serif, Typeface, Digital

Verdana Font is a Sans-Serif Typeface that was designed for digital use

Other Typeface Groups

 

There are some other typeface groups as well, that cannot really be classified as Serif or Sans Serif.

  1. Script typefaces are modeled from pen or brush strokes, and are recognizable because of their similar appearance to handwriting. There are several different Script typefaces used for various occasions, but they are commonly used for formal text in designs such as invitations or certificates. The thin and angular strokes of these typefaces are not always easy to read, so they are not useful for lengthy text. The example below is of Lucida Handwriting.
Lucida Handwriting, Font, Typeface, Script

The Lucida Handwriting Font is a popular Script Typeface

  1. Here comes the fun: Decorative typefaces are those that are not designed for readability, but rather have unique personality, and allow the designer the most creativity. They are used for specific reasons, because they are able to draw out certain emotions, moods or attitudes. These typefaces are designed to draw attention. Therefore, they are commonly found on posters, billboards and headlines. Although Decorative typefaces should be used in moderation, they are my personal favorite. Here is an example:
Decorative, Typeface, Font, Style

This graphic image is an example of a Decorative Typeface

This concludes my overview of the most common typefaces. There are so many more to check out!

Electronic Portfolio

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http://ifreedman9.wix.com/portfolio

                  When I created my electronic portfolio, I designed it in a way that represented my personal style. I chose neutral, calm colors with a modern and simplistic approach. In my opinion, sites with an overwhelming variation of fonts, colors, and shapes, are distracting to the eye. I created a geometric logo that was eye catching, but did not take away from the information on the page. I also chose this logo because it could be incorporated on each page, without looking out of place. I designed each page with a different theme, but the designs work cohesively because of the similarity of color scheme, font style, and shape. Although I have included various samples of my work, they all inform the reader that I have a strong passion for art and design. I believe that my portfolio consists of a wide range of multimedia work that I have created over time. Although I have not limited the website to one particular area of interest, I hope that people will see my work and view it as a range of multiple skills and open-mindedness. I am open to several possible internships in the future, however I am mostly interested in the design field, specifically graphics. As of now, I hold a position on the creative team at Live Oak Communications, and Apparel Chair for my sorority organization. I am a Communications Design major, with a Digital Art minor, and I am currently enrolled in several classes where I am constantly learning, and strengthening my skills. I hope that my electronic portfolio represents some of the skills that I have obtained through these courses, although there is still so much that I have to practice and learn. For my writing page, I included work from my Media Writing course and my Global course. I included a link to a presentation I created, which reveals some of my graphic skills. I chose creative writing and journalism samples, to show different sets of writing styles. In my Writing for Visual Media course, I have been working to perfect my master resume, which I included on the website. I would still like to improve some areas of my resume, but overall, I am content with the design approach that it has. For the future, I would like to add more of my work to my electronic portfolio, specifically with projects that I am currently working on. Even though there are still many things to be added, I hope that my electronic portfolio portrays my passion for art, my curiosity towards learning, my open-minded attitude and my ambition to create great work.

Different Blog Post Approaches

By: Isabel Freedman

For the past couple of weeks in my Writing for Visual Media course, we have been learning about various types of blog posts. Our class read an article on “20 different types of blog posts.” I found a number of good examples of the various types, and have chosen four of them to share, as I thought they were particularly good representations of some of the different approaches.

  1. Predictions: Infographic Design Trends in 2015

The blog post titled “Infographic: Continuing the New Design Trends in 2015” on the website YouTheDesigner is a great example of a prediction and review post. Using a “top-10” format, describing the trends graphically and in words, it reviews prominent design trends of 2014 and predicts which ones will continue to flourish and which will cease in 2015. The post states that 2014 was a year of high-quality, elegant designs, and that this year new trends will include magical realism, cinemagraphs and hand-drawn illustrations. I found this blog to be interesting and informative, although I would have liked to see a better arrangement of the photographs.

  1. Instructional:Risograph Prints  

On the website Creative Bloq, I found an instructional blog post called “How to Design a Three-Colour Risograph Print.” In 13 instructional steps, this article explains how to use Photoshop to prepare images for risograph printing, which is a process somewhat like screen printing, where one color is printed at a time. This blog post is a straightforward, helpful tutorial for those who are interested in creating Risograph prints. After reading the instructional post, I felt comfortable enough to create my own Risograph print. I found it helpful that the instructions were presented in a conversational way and were not overly condensed or complex . Although there were a number of steps to follow, the fact that they were broken down, made it easy for me to process the information presented.

  1. List:

 Logo Design Mistakes 

On the Just Creative website, there is a great example of a list blog post, entitled “12 Logo Design Mistakes to Avoid.” This blog post is a numbered list of 12 logo design mistakes identified by the author. It provides a visual example of each mistake, as well as text discussing the mistake and possible solutions. Some of the design mistakes include: typographic chaos, poor font choice, over-complexity, dependency on special effects/color and the use of visual clichés. I found this type of blog post to be especially appealing because of the simplicity of the layout, and the inclusion of visual elements under each example.

  1. Rant:

 

Reebok New Brand Logo 

On the I’m Just Creative website, I found a prime example of a rant blog post. The article, by Graham Smith at The Logo Smith, is titled “Reebok’s New Logo Lacks Coolness and Just Sucks.” In this post, the author includes a brief history of logos that Reebok has used in the past, and criticizes the pattern of indecisive choices the company has made. In particular, the post focuses on Reebok’s 2014 logo re-design, describing it and providing a comprehensive critique of the choice. The author believes that the design could have been much more interesting if Reebok had used a new font style or color, and argues that Reebok’s new logo mark is completely inappropriate for sports logos. He concludes that the overall design is dull.

I found these articles to be appropriate representations of four different blog approaches. It was interesting to compare and contrast the unique elements of each type. After learning about blog post approaches, I feel confident that I can now identify and differentiate them, and know how to create my own.

Strawberry Festival Sustainable Event

By: Isabel Freedman

As the annual Strawberry Festival approaches, students in Elon University’s Garden Studio class are busily preparing the seedlings and getting ready to help run the upcoming event, which is jointly hosted by Elon’s Department of Environmental Studies and the Center for Environmental Studies. The event will be held at Elon’s Community Garden on campus, this coming May.

The Strawberry Festival will take place at the Community Garden.

The Strawberry Festival will take place at the Community Garden.

Students in the Garden Studio class use the Elon greenhouse on campus to grow and harvest a wide variety of herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that will be needed for the festival. As of now, the greenhouse holds half of the food that will be consumed.

Ellen Lana, a student at Elon, explained how the Garden Studio class prepares for the Strawberry Festival. “Most of the seedlings are already growing, and they will be ready to harvest in May. We have all types of things growing here that will be at the festival – sweet onions, Siberian kale, Dinosaur Kale, cauliflower, Bok Choy, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and ginger.”

These are sweet corn sprouts that will be used at the Strawberry Festival.

Corn sprouts that will be used at the Festival.

The festival will offer live music, face painting games, homemade strawberry bakery goods, and several vegetables grown that were grown in the greenhouse. It is a no-waste event – the students encourage the Elon community to bring their own plates, bowls and utensils to minimize waste. Ellen adds, “many of the plants are sold in pots made of compost and cow manure. We also have a student who makes pottery for the event, and so people will be able to reuse these bowls instead of wasting plastic and paper bowls.”

These are some of the crafts that were made at the Strawberry Festival last spring. They are displayed around the Community Garden.

These are some of the crafts that were made at the Strawberry Festival last spring. They are displayed around the Community Garden.

The Garden Studio class also uses sustainable resources in its preparations for the upcoming event. It grows all of the seedlings in the greenhouse with a fish fertilizer that also contains nitrogen additives from other organic materials, rather than chemical products. They also treat the plants with a fertilizer made of ground up bones from slaughter houses. These fertilizers add natural products that enrich the garden.

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Cherokee tomatoes are planted in fish fertilizer.

These are sweet onions being grown in bone fertilizer.

Sweet onions grown in bone fertilizer.

In addition, all of the organic waste from the festival will be ground and made into compost, which will be used later at the Community Garden. One group of students in the class has “compost duty” – they are responsible for adding this product to the planting beds at the garden throughout the year, providing additional nutrients.

This image was taken inside the Greenhouse, where students organize compost into separate barrels.

This image was taken inside the Greenhouse, where students organize compost into separate barrels.

This is an image of the compost pile at the Community Garden.

Compost pile at the Community Garden.

            Ellen is dedicated to her work at the garden. She does not view the Garden Studio class as just a course she’s taking, but a passion. “I love having a quiet place to go and feel like I’m doing something positive. The garden and greenhouse give me a space to breathe and re-center myself. In class, I get to spend time with people who are just as passionate as I am about the environment and the work we’re doing. My experience at Elon has been so much more meaningful since I found this class. I’ll always be grateful for this opportunity and the people I’ve met along the way.”

Ellen dedicates hours of work at the Greenhouse, tending to her seedlings

Ellen dedicates hours of work at the Greenhouse, tending to her seedlings.

The Greenhouse is open for all Elon students and faculty. Before Ellen leaves for the day, she brings home fresh chives and potatoes that were grown in the Greenhouse, to cook for dinner. Ellen notes, “instead of wasting gas and driving to the grocery store, I have fresh produce in my backyard. I know exactly where it came from, and I don’t have to worry about the process.”

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         Student Lauren Fazio attended the Strawberry Festival last spring, and had nothing but good things to say about it. “I can’t believe that I had never heard of Elon’s Community Garden before the Strawberry Festival. It really encourages people to be more involved. I try to visit the Garden in my spare time, and make use of all the great things they have to offer.”

Lauren Fazio collects fresh kale at the Community Garden

Lauren Fazio collects fresh kale at the Community Garden.

Ellen summed up the point of the Community Garden. “The work that we do here is not only beneficial for the Elon community, but we are giving back to the earth by following natural, sustainable processes.”

Ellen has grown a personal plot at the Community Garden, which she visits regularly

Ellen has grown a personal plot at the Community Garden, which she visits regularly.

Blog Post Approaches

By: Isabel Freedman

Blog posts can be written in a number of different ways. Here are four graphic design articles that explore a variety of blog post approaches.

  1. Predictions:

http://www.youthedesigner.com/graphic-design-tips/infographic-design-trends-in-2015/

The blog post titled “Infographic: Continuing the New Design Trends in 2015” on the website YouTheDesigner is a great example of a prediction and review post. Using a “top-10” format, describing the trends graphically and in words, it reviews prominent design trends of 2014 and predicts which ones will continue to flourish and which will cease in 2015. The post states that 2014 was a year of high-quality, elegant designs, and that this year new trends will include magical realism, cinemagraphs and hand-drawn illustrations.

  1. Instructional:

http://www.creativebloq.com/print-design/three-colour-risograph-print-5128047

On the website Creative Bloq, I found an instructional blog post called “How to Design a Three-Colour Risograph Print.” In 13 instructional steps, this article explains how to use Photoshop to prepare images for risograph printing, which is a process somewhat like screen printing, where one color is printed at a time. This blog post is a straightforward, helpful tutorial for those who are interested in creating risograph prints.

  1. List:

http://justcreative.com/2010/08/24/logo-design-mistakes/

On the Just Creative website, there is a great example of a list blog post, entitled “12 Logo Design Mistakes to Avoid.” This blog post is a numbered list of 12 logo design mistakes identified by the author. It provides a visual example of each mistake, as well as text discussing the mistake and possible solutions. Some of the design mistakes include: typographic chaos, poor font choice, over-complexity, dependency on special effects/color and the use of visual clichés. I found this type of blog post to be especially appealing because of the simplicity of the layout, and the inclusion of visual elements under each example.

  1. Rant: 

http://imjustcreative.com/reeboks-new-brand-logo-sucks/2014/03/07

On the I’m Just Creative website, I found a prime example of a rant blog post. The article, by Graham Smith at The Logo Smith, is titled “Reebok’s New Logo Lacks Coolness and Just Sucks.” In this post, the author includes a brief history of logos that Reebok has used in the past, and criticizes the pattern of indecisive choices the company has made. In particular, the post focuses on Reebok’s 2014 logo re-design, describing it and providing a comprehensive critique of the choice. The author believes that the design could have been much more interesting if Reebok had used a new font style or color, and argues that Reebok’s new logo mark is completely inappropriate for sports logos. He concludes that the overall design is dull.

Stranger Portraits

Throughout this exercise, I found that it was difficult to capture certain emotions from complete strangers. Whenever I asked someone if I could take a picture of them, they were either caught off guard, or felt awkward being in front of a camera. In several of the shots that I took, the body language of the stranger looked awkward, as if they were unsure of what to do with their hands or how to pose. There was also a pattern of tense facial expressions, making it obvious how uncomfortable they felt being photographed by a complete stranger. Even worse, in some of the photographs the stranger would have a clear look of distain or boredom. Time was challenging factor as well, because many of the strangers I photographed were rushing to class. I had about 30-40 seconds to photograph many of the strangers, and if the photo did not come out right, I could not easily retake it to get a perfect shot. I was not able to use some of the photos at all, because some of the strangers I asked to photograph would stop for a brief second, and then walk away. Taking photos in-between classes was the best, and worst time to take pictures. It was the best time, because there were a variety of interesting people to take pictures of, and it was the worst because many of those people were rushing to their next class.However, despite the time frame difficulty, one of my strongest pictures was of a student rushing to class. I found this fascinating, because when I first started the project, I thought that time was of the essence. I learned that time was a challenge, but also beneficial, because I was able to capture a relatable moment that had to be taken instantaneously. Although there were some difficulties to this exercise, it was a great experience and challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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