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People CritiqueWhere the girls are!

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Ed Shapiro
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Re: Where the girls are!

Post by Ed Shapiro » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:18 pm

I like Duck’s method of pointing out tonal values and balances by means of a high contrast rendition of the image. Sometimes if I am in a hurry to analyze a print during a print judging I simply view the print upside down and see where my eyes go first. The viewer’s eyes will always take the path of least resistance and go to the brightest tome or the brightest or highest chroma color.

In advertising work, I find that there are two basic types of methods or approaches that the photographer should be able to differentiate from one and other and therefore apply the appropriate approach depending on the method needed to carry through the visual concept of the advertisement.

There is the straight “product shot” whereby the product itself becomes the main motif of the image. Oftentimes the product is shown on a simple solid background or a somewhat “moody” background to add atmosphere by suggestion or innuendo. The other approach I categorize as a photographic illustration or a concept shot. In this case we add props, people, scenarios, insinuations, special effects and a myriad of other single or multiple elements. This is where the lighting, placement of the elements, composition and control of tones and contrasts all become critical. You must ask yourself “what am I selling- the product or the concept”?

A classic example of this is what you see in magazine and TV ads for spirits and beer. Some ads show a beautiful image of a cold refreshing beverage or cocktail to make the viewer thirsty. Others SUGGEST that of you drink THEIR brand of suds or booze you will be surrounded by lovely ladies or handsome gents, drive exotic sports cars, dress in the latest designer fashions and get invited to awesome parties. This may seem like a too obvious scenario but is applied to all kinds of advertising.

Does your client need a good architectural shot of a swimming pool or an illustration of folks having a great time at a pool that his company installed? Think of it this way, does your client want a literal or a figurative interpretation of his product. Once you have this concept firmly in mind you can then go to your tool kit or bag of tricks such as selective focus, ratios between the product and the background, placement of highlights, middle tones and shadows, depth of lighting or fall off of lighting and compositional balance of all the elements. You can shift emphases or balance it by means of all of your skill sets.

I apply this approach when clients come directly to me for commercial photography. If the assignment comes in through a graphic designer, an art director or an advertising agency all I need to do is follow the layout an make sure I have the skills and equipment to carry it off. Some agencies and art directors will ask for my interpretation or variations as well. Others might just throw the job in my lap and tell me the deadline date and time.

There is lots more entailed in successful advertising photography but this is a good basic philosophy to use in practice.

I hope this helps as well!

Ed

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Post by Duck » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:03 am

Ed, the method shown here is a 'long form' of explaining the concept. In my day to day job I short cut it by squinting my eyes. It does the same thing by removing detail and reducing the image to tonal values. Unfortunately I seldom have the luxury of turning my artwork upside down (another great method) as I am usually working on an arm, leg or back. :D
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Post by pop511 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:56 am

Had a go at your suggestions, not sure if I made it better though. Tonal balance is a brilliant remark.
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Post by Duck » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:40 pm

So much better. The brighter face brings her forward nicer. Now let's take it one step further. Are you ready to tackle a few things at a time? I think so.

First, typography is in art form in itself. I know, I've spent my whole life working with letter forms. This suggestion is in three parts; remove the drop shadow behind the lettering, simplify the font type and give them room to breathe. There are a lot of mid level tones in the image and the pink color just blends right in. Not only that, pink for girls is too cliche and should be avoided unless cliche is the goal (ie, PINK sweat pants). Simplify it by getting rid of the ellipsis around the words. They are not needed in display heading unless it is leading in or to something else. Your ad has neither. Select a cleaner, less squashed font. Your goal is to make it legible not quirky. I would say try white against the smoke. You may need to darken it up a touch in areas so the text stands out. Get the "Night Out" out from under the bottle and place it under the "Girls". Don't push it into the corner of the image. Oh... and watch your spelling. ;)

The next suggestion is reposition your elements. Bring them forward. Let them fill the space more. If you enlarge the bottle so a little of the top and bottom get cropped off it will allow it to dominate that space better. Now enlarge the girl, cropping off her bottom (nothing interesting there but darkness) and bring her closer to the bottle so the eye can bounce between the bottle and her face.

Finally, step back and look at your composition. Is it balanced? If the white lettering pulls the eye too much away from the product is there a way of fixing that? Is the product well defined? If not is there a way of fixing that?

Another suggestion may be to clone the bottle and set it up bowling pin style with three bottles into the lower left corner. See if that works better. Part of the game is playing around with the elements to see what works and what doesn't. There is no simple formula. You'll find that what works for one may not work for another.

Looking forward to seeing what you put together.
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Post by Ed Shapiro » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:35 pm

I certainly like the improvements that you have made. Listen to duck! To me it sill looks like 3 different pictures rather that a more cohesive montage. One of the problems might be associated with a disunity of lighting in that the highlight on the modes hair seems to be coming in form about 90 degrees and the highlight on the side of the bottle is coming in form around 30 degrees. The highlight on the bottle wold look more compatible with the lighting on the model if you re-shot the bottle with the highlight on the camera left edge- Now it so causing glare on the face of the bottle and the foil wrap at the neck of the bottle.

Since RED is the color of the product's logo, perhaps the same shade of red may be effective on the other typography as well as the light on the smoke which is not purple. Sometimes I find that when other areas of color pick p on the product color or logo it lends a nice touch- I would like Duck's input on that suggestion.

I certainly have to agree that typography is indeed an art-form in itself and a fascinating one at that. Every time I want to order up new business stationery - letterheads and business cards and I open up a book with a selection of fonts- I usually go nuts! Each typeface tells a different story about what I want to say about my company in terms of first impressions. It ain't simple anymore! I remember the day when "Old English" was for funeral homes and antique stores, "Script" was for photo studios and "Stencil" was for the the armed forces! Nowadays it is mind boggling. As a commercial photographer. I usually don't have to worry too much about the typography because the art director, graphic designer or lithographic printer will usually take care of that although, if I know the type style being applied it sometimes helps with the thematic aspect of the assignment. On small jobs, however, like food shoots for small local restaurants for menu boards, take out menus and table cards, my clients kinda throw the entire job in my lap and I have to put together a camera ready pre-press layout. I need to do more education in typography! :? Oh- then comes the selection of paper stocks!

Ed

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Post by pop511 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:50 pm

Bit slack the last few days...will get back..Thx guys!
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