In the last year or so, my day job as a graphic designer has changed and evolved. I’m always one of these people who would rather be busy at work doing something that’s not in their job description than sitting around and doing nothing. So, gradually over the past year, my role has seen the addition of being a photographer, videographer and web designer.
A previous post here on the blog discusses how designers need to be all-rounders these days. I still believe this to be true. As a freelancer, you get to focus on the areas of your skillset where your passions lie. However, a regular 9-5, full-time employed job doesn’t always offer that luxury.
The team I work in only has four members of staff. We’re small, but we know how to get the job done right. Being part of such a small team allows for the development of skills to suit the changing needs of the organisation and business we work for.
Video has been a considerable part of this change. Social media, as much as I hate it, is a great tool to reach the Generation X audience we have. You get a small window to impress – usually around three seconds – and video is where it’s at to grab someones attention.
In no way, shape or form am I professional videographer. Nor do I pretend to be one. But each video created is an opportunity to learn, experiment and develop my skillset.
The video content created for the organisation a year ago differs in quality to the standard created today.
Yes, there will be things I would love to do differently. Better cameras, better audio, lighting, etc., are all factors. But when you have limited resources, the challenge is to make the best out of what you have.
I initially taught myself After Effects when I was 17 years old. The project I was working on was for the House Captain elections at school. Me being too introverted to go around the classrooms and sell me as to why people should vote for me. Instead, I send a video round to the teachers for them to show their students. Whether they played it, I don’t know. But it was an opportunity to have a campaign that stood out from my competitors. If you’re desperate to see how bad a job I did the following tutorials available to recreate what was available at the time, you can see the video here.
Fast forward ten years and motion graphics in the design world are a big deal. Whether that be animated illustrations, kinetic typography, GIFs or tour visuals, the amount of talent in motion graphics is impressive.
Between Final Cut Pro X, Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop I’ve become pretty well versed in how to make motion graphics. However, due to time constraints, I’m not able to create graphics from scratch all the time. It’s frustrating as a designer to edit other peoples resources and make them your own. They are, however, a useful tool to deconstruct and learn how to piece motion graphics together. An Envato Elements subscription has come in handy for learning and time-saving. It’s saved me on numerous projects where I don’t have the time to play with keyframes and make motions from scratch.
One day I would love to delve deeper into motion graphics. It’s not an area of design I saw myself enjoying. But with design having such a significant digital presence, it’s becoming more relevant to have this skill set readily available when needed.
When it comes to making videos, if you’re expecting documentary standard – you’re coming to the wrong designer. But I’m continually working on bettering the quality of the videos I’m shooting.
Until recently, sound quality struggled for consistency as did lighting. A few simple changes have made all the difference. For example: using a boom microphone rather than the horseshow mount on the camera allows for better control of audio – especially when filming multiple people in one shot. It sounds simple. But investing in additional equipment can make all the difference to the standard of your production.
But videography in itself is a job title; there are people you can pay to film your videos. You are correct.
For more significant video projects we have a videographer we outsource too. Chris is a fountain of knowledge, and I’ve been able to pick his brain over the years for ways to get the best out of the resources we have available within the organisation. Shooting days with him are also fun to observe and see how he works. An example of our recent project together can be viewed above.
As much as having a videographer skill is useful, it’s not my ideal skillset to utilise. It’s less design-focused, I find editing an annoyance, and it’s a time-consuming profession. But that is the nature of being a designer today – we need to have many skills, even if that takes us away from our primary focus.
Delving into photography is one aspect of the creative field I do enjoy. So when a project crops up that needs imagery, I’m always more than happy to get the camera out, crouch down in compromising positions and get the shot required.
I bought my first DSLR for my 21st birthday – a Canon 550D. Until recently it was the only camera I had, but Chris had convinced me that the Sony A7 range was worth upgrading to for projects. I’d been after a second camera for a while, and claiming one as a business expense was all the more satisfying. When it came to videoing and photographing my brother’s wedding over the summer, the Sony A7ii did the trick. I’m still playing around with settings and figuring out how it works for me, but a new camera has got me back into my love of photography.
When it comes to a photographer as a skillset as a designer, it’s not something we all have. Anyone thinks they’re a photographer these days. And to some extents this is true. You can take a pretty decent photo on phones these days, add a filter and upload it to Instagram and look like a professional. However, as a designer adding photography to their skillset, it’s important to remember the camera doesn’t make the photos amazing. The person taking the images makes the photos excellent. Maybe you’ll have a natural flair for photography, and it will come easy to you. For others, it may take time and practice for your creative brain to see things differently.
Having photography skills as a designer is something I would recommend, though. The skills are transferable in many ways.
So, if you’re a designer like me and experiencing a shift in the type of services you provide in your workplace or to your clients, let me know. What you do or don’t enjoy and whether you’d much instead stick to being a graphic designer only, I want to know all about it.