Don’t Use Stock Photography Unless You’ve Paid for It

Yesterday I went to a restaurant to try their food and looked up at the menu board in sheer horror! There’s nothing worse than seeing a great graphic design with the watermark ‘Shutterstock‘ over a visual component. The possibility exists that this could have been an FPO (For Position Only) that the graphic designer failed to replace before print.

An accurate re-enactment of my horror

As a designer, it is your biggest responsibility to your paying client to ensure you thoroughly review your work to eliminate errors so they get the best product attainable. If you want really good images, consider the following options:

  1. Paying for it via Shuttershock, Getty Images or iStockphoto
  2. Searching using Google Images
  3. Visit free photo sites like Flickr, Death to the Stock Photo and Stockvault
  4. Taking your own images based on your client’s needs

The latter isn’t such a bad thing, especially when you’ve just created original material.

Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography
Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger
Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography

If you choose to go that route, there are plenty tips and tricks on photography and with smartphones only getting better and better, you don’t need to have an expensive digital SLR camera to capture great images.

So just to recap, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, use stock images with a watermark over it! It’s in bad taste and cheapens the overall look of your work. If you’re aiming to be a professional then try to be better than that mediocre, be great!

Living Large in a Tiny House

How much living space do we really need to live comfortably? Depending on whom you are and the lifestyle you want to lead that answer maybe anywhere from a studio apartment to a mansion or possibly a penthouse suite.

In recent years, I’d say within the last seven years, there’s been a movement towards small houses or tiny houses and it’s a trend that keeps growing. First it was only a lifestyle for a single person, now it’s being embraced by couples and now young families and even the elderly. I’ve seen countless videos and with each one I’m always impressed by their design (primarily the interior) and brilliant use of what is for the most part rather limited space.

Consider the idea of combining living on a large boat with Japanese architecture and minimalism. It’s not for everyone, but for those who choose to live in a space sometimes no more than 100 square feet, it’s more homely than living in a space 20 times that scale. I guess it comes down to living simply and simply living.

For the uninitiated, let me introduce you to one such gem, dubbed ‘The Teeny Tiny House – Tumbleweed Box Bungalow’, designed and owned by Jay Shafer of Four Lights Houses. It’s tucked away in a Zen-like garden in Sebastopol, a city in Sonoma County, California. Enjoy the tour, but afterwards you have to ask yourself the question — how much space do I really need to be happy?

How $2.31 Can Get You a Super Cheap Photography Lightbox


You know the famous expression “necessity is the mother of invention”? Well it tends to ring true when it comes on to design. Every time I’m hired for a graphic design project, I always make sure to under-promise and over-deliver, because some projects are just harder than others. I’d like to point out that I’m a Graphic Designer who just happens to like and appreciate the art and science behind photography.

My latest project involves aviator sunglasses and not just any aviator sunglasses, flag-themed ones in time for the World Cup. This presented an obvious challenge for me as there was no way I could find these particular design online to download some images. The focal point of the design is the sunglasses so I had to find a way to get quality images, ergo reading about shooting product.

In one of the articles I read, I came across lightbox (hyperlinked) and clicked that link to see a short tutorial on making your own. This led me to reading as much material as I could find and equally as many videos via YouTube with really detailed tutorials. For a grand total of US$2.31, I created my very own, fully functional photography lightbox. All it took was an hour’s worth of effort.

If you want to make your own, here’s what you’ll need:

  • a cardboard box at least 12″l x 12″w x 12″h — (I endorse reuse and upcycle)
  • a box cutter (or scissors or knife)
  • a metal or wooden ruler
  • one sheet of tissue paper (the gift wrapping kind!)
  • white cartridge paper (for the background)
  • a roll of masking tape
  • pencil or pen or marker (I like Sharpie)

That’s pretty much it and all you need now are some lamps to get started. Fluorescent light works well, but if you have LED lamps then more “power” to you (saw what I did there?)! In actuality I can’t see this costing you more than US$10.00 and makes for a really fun project and a fantastic tool to take better and brighter photographs of small to medium objects. If you sell products on eBay or Amazon or Etsy, using your own photography lightbox will definitely help improve your odds of scoring some sales. Heck, go nuts!

Right now, I’m just excited to get these photographs into Photoshop for editing!!

Fun tip: Play around with the positioning of the lamps!