Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265: Project


Project: Portfolio & Product Shots

Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Schedule


Goals & Concept

In advertising and marketing, products must often be photographed for images to be used in print ads and web layouts.
As artists and designers, our creations in all media must be presented in portfolios that both represent and promote our skills and creative solutions. 

Here, you’ll be shooting some basic studio setups of artworks and products for presentation in ads and portfolios.

You’ll be setting up a basic PDF professional portfolio and a simple ad layout with your images.

The Short Version

Shoot images of the best 2D (6+) and 3D (3+) works that you have created.

Shoot images of at least 1 3D retail product and lay out a print or web ad for it.

Edit and prepare these images for portfolio presentation and typical presentation applications.

Create a PDF portfolio to represent you and your work.

Turn in all images and portfolio on a job-interview-worthy CD.


Shoot objects that you have created in other classes — paintings, pottery, sculpture, packaging designs, a lamp you’ve designed.  If more works are needed, shoot other works (HU Permanent collection works, 3d products that might be photographed for use in ad layouts, or even works by other students that you shoot for their portfolio.)

Advice: While you are set up to shoot portfolio images, you'd be wise to collect all of your finished works, particularly those strong enough to be considered for inclusion in your professional portfolio.
If you aren't sure whether to include a work in your portfolio, go ahead and shoot good images of it so you'll have them if you need them.


Include at least 3 — 3D subjects,
Use your own creations, if available, otherwise use products that might be included in an ad.

Images of 3D subjects typically need to have clean backdrops and underlays of such a color as to accentuate the colors and forms of the subject. 

If shooting by studio lights, your location and intensity choices can have a dramatic effect on the final image. Most typically, diffuse lighting will be needed to subdue harsh hightlights on metallic surfaces.
If shooting outdoors, an overcast day provides effective ambient light, absence of highlights and harsh shadows.

For ads, you’ll need to know the general layout that will be used so that type, headings and other graphics can be anticipated, and the composition of the photograph arranged for those elements in the 2D ad.

Include at least 6 — 2D Subjects.
Shoot them both with available light and with studio lights.
Typical studio lighting setup involves lights both on the left and the right, at roughly 45 decrees off the picture plane.
When available lighting is used, glare is a prominent problem to avoid.

Correct any skewing.
Avoid highlights and reflections.
Correct color, tonal range and contrast to match the original.

Images of 2D subjects need to be cropped tight and squared. 
(exception:  if the artwork has an irregular shape, rather than a rectangle, you’ll need to leave a comfortable space around the work, leaving a neutral field around the work.)

Image Variations

Create images at varied resolution and size for portfolio presentation and web presentation and print production.

For each of your final images:
Create a full resolution, high quality JPG image for print production.
Create a 1500x1500 pixel max version for G+ posting.
Create a medium resolution 500x500 pixel max version for typical web posting.
Create a 150x150 pixel max version for web thumbnails.


PDF Portfolio

You’ll be setting up a basic PDF portfolio with your images.

Create a PDF portfolio of your works; include at least 6 photographs from this semester, along with all original works photographed for this assignment.

You can use Illustrator, InDesign (or even MS Word?) to lay out your PDF portfolio into a single PDF file.

Portfolios express the artist. Which is to say, the design of the portfolio itself may reflect the character of the artist as well as the role for which he/she is applying.
In some fields (i.e. education), your portfolio likely needs to be clean and straightforward. For positions in which expressive creativity is more prominent, the portfolio can be designed to reflect the attitude and creative priorities of the artist. However, no matter how bold or innovative the design of your portfolio, keep its basic role in mind —  it is a vehicle for introducing the creative works you have created. Don't let the graphic concept of the portfolio overwhelm that priority.

Textual Content

A portfolio is a document with a purpose. It is intended to introduce you and your creative accomplishments. The person reviewing your portfolio may know nothing about you other than what is in the portfolio, so you need it to represent accurately, concisely and impressively.

Consider what information that viewer may be interested in, and provide.
Don't assume that every reviewer will read everything you write —  most won't. But when they want to know about you, or about a project your created, provide answers to the most basic questions they are likely to ask — help them get to know you and your work.

— Design and include a cover page.
— Include a short description of the artist's background. Often career goals are included here.
— Include artist contact information.
— Include an artist's statement describing your creative priorities and objectives.
— Include a page that lists works in the portfolio — in effect, a table of contents.
— For each work included, provide the medium, date, size (where appropriate), title, and a brief description of the what motivated the work — in effect, a very short concept statement describing what you had to work with (a teacher's assignment, a client's expectations, or personal goals); if the work was a part of a collaborative project, describe what portion of the project's development was yours.


[simple Web display… a web album of works?  G+ or better?  Free web-portfolio sites? ]




Select subjects

Select backdrop or context for shooting.

Select lighting.

Prepare a plan for shooting. Will you bracket your images? Will you use filters?



— The general steps will likely be the same you've followed in other set. The particulars will vary according to your concept for this series.

Technical:  Color, contrast, tone and white-balance correction.

Technical: CP filter use.

Technical:  unskewing technique

— Upload to Google+ into “018 Portfolio” folder.  Drag those into your Art 265 circle.

— Review and comment* on the photos uploaded by at least 7 other students before class.
* Provide relevant comments (25+ more words) discussing what you see in the photos presented — comment particularly on what impresses you or what catches your eye.  Comment on what you think might improve the power and clarity of the narrative of the presented photos.


By Tuesday, 8am

Downsize images to 2Mpix JPGs before upload.

Post to G+ :
Project Photo Album: 018 Portfolio (7+ images)

Write an artists statement for the final series.
— Discuss whatever theme or emphases you discovered. You might describe what you found as you surveyed your images in Bridge. What surprised you? How did your direction change as you went?

Write critical comments about the final series images:
— Discuss the strengths of the final images in relation to that theme.


Thursday, before Class

Crit your Peers:
Go to G+ and review what your classmates have uploaded.

For each classmate, go to their 018 Portfolio album.

Add comments to at least one image, or to the series as a whole.
Discuss ways in which the series is formally unified — what traits tie the separate images together?
How compositionally successful are the images?
What is interesting about them?



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Greg Clayton
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