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Optimising Your Photography For Digital

With responsive design sending waves through the digital world, are other creative service providers ready to adapt to our increasingly multi-screen lifestyle? Brand Perfect finds out.

Ballet for The Times, by Mark Harrison

The best brand executions and advertising campaigns have always worked to context, with the most successful moving seamlessly from the news-stand to the billboard, and from the big screen down to television, but are image-makers – and those that commission them – considering how their work translates across different digital platforms?

For the most part, it appears not, although, unlike with web design, throughout print’s history there's more of a precedent for creating multi-purpose work that translates from one format to another.

Although brands and creative agencies aren’t generally coming to image-makers with mobile in mind, there's some transferable thinking from print that will help when that day does come.

The release of the original RED camera back in 2007 was in some ways a response to photographers increasingly looking to experiment with moving image, especially in the fashion industry. For photography, this development has segued nicely with the new demands brought about by entertainment apps and the growth in advertising-as-content.

Hat Margolies, director of London-based photography agency Lucid Representation says: "We haven’t had anyone stipulate specific sizings for mobile screens, but we are doing lots more work that has to work for online applications or making additional moving image extras for magazines apps using aurasma and blippar.

A still of Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman from Mark Harrison's shoot for The Times Magazine

"Our photographers are really engaging with moving image and with what can be done by mixing the two disciplines together. However, despite all the hype about cameras that can offer both moving image and stills, we still find that they give a mushy feel to the images and nowhere near enough high definition for a quality image in the way that stills cameras do."

For Harrods magazine, Lucid photographer Anders Schønnemann will often create an extra set of shots which can be used as an iPad opener, made as a series of stills, which are then animated for the magazine, which highlights the biggest difference the agency has noticed in terms of digital: an increasing appetite for add-on materials. 

"Stylist and The Times magazines have both been pioneers of this," explains Margolies. "Running makeup demonstrations, recipes and covers that come alive when the reader holds their smartphone or tablet over the page. This seems a perfect way of bringing moving image into the print world. We all do (almost) everything with a phone in our hand, and using augmented reality applications such as blippar and aurasma, you can utilise that habit editorially. A magazine or advert is still being looked at or engaged with, but you can offer the reader more, such as in-depth information or some special creative treat, without them having to go to the computer or type in a web address."

Stylist Magazine Interactive Cover shot by Mark Harrison Photographer

Luxury and fashion photographer Claudia Goetzelmann, who operates out of San Francisco, says that she always produces shoots that can be used for multiple purposes, but has never been asked for mobile-specific images, but her approach to photography is generally complementary to it, as her shoots often have to accommodate cropping for multiple uses.

"In these cases, I shoot with more sky or background content around so cropping in can happen without losing the essence of the shoot. Or the shoot allows for a different background to be added. I often shoot multiple 'plates' for a background to give flexibility. I have also shot editorial for an online magazine (shown below), where the clothing was tagged with links, which are simply added in after the event."

The bullethole-like dots around the model are links to the relevant clothing and accessories. Image © Claudia Goetzelmann

The photography world had a similar reaction to the growth in digital that has challenged the media industries, but seems to be coming through the transition in much better shape than some of the editorial markets that it also supports.

"In some ways we all feared that smartphones would destroy the industry," confesses Margolies, "but I think that digital has actually given the public access to a greater number of professional images and a way to share images they love (like Pinterest) that shows how much impact a brilliant professional photograph can have."

Lucid even undertook one commission, for Jamie Magazine, where a smartphone was used for the shoot itself. "Anders Schønnemann was asked to shoot a self-created food story using a smartphone and run it through a filter app called snapseed. It worked well and we got a nice little story, but the magazine hasn’t followed this up with anything similar and we’ve stuck to professional quality shoots for them since."

Fancy yourself as the next David Bailey? The D&AD Next Photographer Award unearths the best new photographic talent and promotes it back to the industry. The competition is open to new photographers with less than three years professional experience.

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