Photography Workshop

The purpose of today’s workshop was to explore using a DSLR camera to capture the physcial (printed) work we have made during this course. The focus was on how to be creative when taking the photos. I approached the images differently depending on the work in front of me. Working in pairs made the work easier as there was another mind to help problem solve, both with technical problems and creative ones.

  • We used an ISO of 100, as this is suitable for shooting indoors.
  • We shot in aperture priority (AV) mode, so that we could focus on the compositions rather than the technicality of a camera. This was useful to me since I have not used a DSLR camera in perhaps a year and needed to re-familiarise myself with it.
  • The aperture relates to the lens openeing being wider or smaller. A wider gap/lower aperture lets in more light, this is useful for portrait photography. It puts the focus on the foreground and gives a softer background.
  • We used a Canon 600D camera.
  • The shutter button can be used to demi-press and take full shots. The demi-press allows us to check our focus.
  • Using the screen on the camera means we can take angle shots without needing to use the view finder.
  • We need to format the card before using the camera. This ensures connection between the SD card and camera. It also empties the card before you use it.
  • The ‘Q’ button allows us to navigate the screen to change the ISO settings for example.
Working at the first set-up, I used objects to prop up my process book. This shows the spread at an interesting angle. Placing lights on one side gave the book an interesting shadow. This shows the book with a sculptural appearance.
  • We selected ‘large quality image’ (not raw). The symbol for this (shown above) looks like a ‘DL’.
  • 0 exposure compensation
  • Spinning the wheel changes the aperture
  • Shooting in raw is required when working with really big, high quality images. They are however, a slow doc to work with. The colouring is more precise than a jpeg.
  • A photo taken on a DSLR camera will always be a higher quality image than one taken on a smartphone.
  • AWB = automatic white balance. White balance helps to colour correct any temperatures you’re working with. We can change the settings to tell the camera you are working with sunlight for example. To correct yellow light tungsten for example.
  • We can create creative filters using just white balance.
  • AF = automatic focus
  • MF = manual focus
  • Live screen view mode allows you to see how your settings are applying.

Photos from the workshop:

Continuing photography at home…

I experimented with different coloured grounds
Lighting and back-drop set-up

Professional Practice

Contextual Research:

This week’s discussion was about the designer’s portfolio/ online website.

We asked ourselves: What is their purpose?

  • For promotion
  • showcasing skills and capabilities
  • A way to point people to your blog, social media or shop
  • to get hired and find work
It’s Nice That

There is no set standard when it comes to a designer’s website. Avoid trends. Below is Snootie Studios website. The use of a grid makes the information easy to understand and navigate:

Snootie Studios

Your website is your presense, its the first point of contact people will have for you. We need to consider navigation- keeping it simple, nice and clean.

…And like a shop window, the content is changing constantly.

Make sure you present it in a clear way, use large images and make sure there’s not too much graphic noise around the work.

– Hannah Caughlin, Graphic Design Consultant, Represent

Roxane Zargham’s web portfolio is an example of a very clean layout. The absence of background colour/ unnecessary information helps the viewer navigate the work in this portfolio. Her work has also been photographed in a studio using a white background. Treating each piece in the same way unites the separate projects as being part of the same design identity.

She uses the rule of thirds to divide the work into 3 columns. This gives a sense of balance to the overall page layout:

Website portfolio Roxane Zargham

You don’t need to follow rules- be enthusiastic finding your voice what works for your unique personality.

Bravery and personality are maybe the two most important things I’m looking for in a portfolio.

Erik Kessels, It’s Nice That

Be selective- it needs to represent what you want to achieve, what you want to work with. This could mean working on a self initiated project. (You want to show you have experimented with different things- analogue, digital.) For example, on the website portfolio of Bounce (a graphic design studio in Oxford), they have included a variety of projects together. I like that I can view the scope of their work on one page:


It’s important to write a description, since work needs to tell a story. Where to start? Puting the work I want to showcase into 1 folder, allows me to be organised. If I write 200 words for each project, then I have this information ready for when I want to post the work to my website for example.

Art direction and image production (creating the content for your website) can be the most time-consuming part of putting together an online portfolio. (We will be exploring this in a photography workshop next week). We spoke about the things to consider when photographing work.

Photographing work

One possibility is to frame the work in a real life context. An example of this is this project from Tomo tomo Studio. They have decided to photograph the book in an old building, isince the subject reflects an antique theme. The work also constrasts with the blue in the background. It is a nice idea to contrast the colours of the work and its background, since this allows the work to stand out.

Tomotomo Studio “As above so below” Elisa Sighicelli

(Below) Another example of an interesting setting, is this fanzine that has been photographed in an urban landscape. Since the zine is about the city, it is appropriate to capture it outdoors against the brick wall backdrop. This is an alternative to photographing the work indoors and artificially lit. Both are appropraite for different works.

Spread from the issue ‘Vertigo’ by Orizzontale

Coloured paper has been placed in background and creates a sense of harmony in the overall image. The colour has been dictated by the work itself:

Cose. Spiegate bene from Tomo Tomo studio

Including a wooden background places the book in a real world setting, allowing the viewer to picture the physicality of the book and to imagine it infront of them. Including the hands gives us a sense of the scale. (below)

Brian Roettinger
I’ve always wanted a porch by Snootie Studios

We can also use props and other materials alongside the work. For example, if the project is about music, we could place cables in background. We could include props that feature within the work, and place them next to the work also.

Thinking creatively, we can use any material to add interesting background effect. For example, using coloured acetate in the background to filter the light through.


We can play with different points of view when photographing our work. Choosing a different angle presents interesting aspects of the work and can even create surreal, abstract imagery of an everyday object. For a book that has complicated folding, we can use photography to show the complexity of the book binding.

Suspending the book with fishing wire and photographing it can be a fun way to display the work.

Details can be zoomed in on. Where there might be reflective materials for example, we can photograph the way the light catches the foil on a book cover. The tactile/print quality of the work can be showcased with photography. Use of shadows can emphasise the physicality of the piece.

Fragments of Epic Memory, Pentagram

Above: This photo focuses on the details of the spine and cover.

Below: Showcasing the cover of the book, using light and shadow to emphasise the page.

Studio Rejane Dal Bello

We could even take a video of the work to show the handling of it. Stop motion can be a fun way to display the work.

An abundance of identities

Listening to the Design Matters podcast, this episode features Dario Calmese. The discussion is based around the fact that ‘we all have multiple identities’ and that choosing 1 career path may be limiting ourselves. Calmese is described on his website as ‘sitting at the nexus of art, fashion and academia, Dario is an artist, urbanist, director and brand consultant currently based in New York City.’ His curiosity was encrouaged by his parents and he was able to explore many different skills from a young age.

‘Each medium allows for a certain type of communication’

‘Fascinated by what is possible’

About identity:

Identity isn’t necessarily who you are but the things you hold. You are the vessel that holds these identitys. identity is something that comes from the outside, people are telling you how you are seen vs you defining it for yourself.

Dario Calmese
Further Logotype

I looked at the book Logo by Michael Evamy. I was more drawn to the painterly textures within the logos in the book:

I was inspired by these textures when refining my logotype:

Printmaking: Woodcut

January 2023

To start the year, I signed up for a 5 week printmaking course at City of Oxford college. It turned out to be 5 weeks of woodcut, which is a technique I have never tried before.

My first introduction to this printmaking technique was at the Scene Through Wood exhibition at The Ashmolean a few years ago:
Edvard Munch, Head by Head. Woodcut, 1905

And the Interior Light exhibition last year at The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford:

The artist included examples of her woodcutting technique on the plate itself.

Leaflet of the exhibition.

The begin our process, we needed to draw our designs onto tracing paper. I hadn’t come prepared, so I worked from a photo I had taken last year a the Botanical Gardens:

This turned out to be a bit too detailed and I also wanted to work on an abstract design, so I therefore changed my mind after the first session…

I sketched the lines I intended to carve (above).

I considered how overlapping the layers would create new hues.

I cut shapes from paper and used these to construct the drawing. I could place them on the page and play with the overall structure to test out different variations.

I planned to print 3 layers. One black (the key plate), one yellow and one blue.
Week 2

The black layer would need to be printed last. It would become the most detailed layer. I sketched the design onto the wood:

I then needed to remove every area that was not the black area. Carving was not as smooth as cutting lino, but I did get used to it. I found that I needed to keep the lines quite thick.

I printed this layer first. This allowed me to make any corrections had I needed to. It also allowed me to create the second plate using the back of the wood and another piece of wood.

Week 3

This session began with more carving, then I was able to print my first coloured layers:

Layering the coloured layers produced green segments. I was surpised to see the amount of detail produced, since I wasn’t sure how clearly the carved strokes would appear.

After printing 3 layers, I could see the areas of cross-overs. The overall effect is energetic.
Week 4
The studio, colour mixing by the group.
My prints on the drying rack.

The texture of the wood became apparent after the wood had been inked and cleaned once. This is due to the moisture sinking into the wood and expanding the pattern of the grain.

Me cleaning the plate.

Yellow, orange and dark green layers.

I felt that these prints didn’t need a black layer, as they already had enough contrast and brightness to make them interesting:

The abstract design meant that I couldn’t decide which way up the image should be viewed.