Branding Yourself

This week in between client work I've been refreshing my own business card designs and I've found once again that any marketing projects you take on for yourself are some of the hardest projects to complete and be happy with.

One of the most important elements of design is focusing upon what and who you're designing for and the intended goal. These cards are obviously intended for potential clients so I wanted them to stand out while still being accessible and useable as a means of exchanging contact details whilst showcasing a small glimpse of my design approach. They also needed to be direct in their approach and message of what I do and how to reach me. 

A number of design choices developed along the way that although seemingly minor to begin with, had quite a drastic effect on the change in direction from my original concept. I started with the idea of keeping things very minimal on the front of the card, with bright colours on the reverse. Using an almost quilted like colour gradient on the reverse with the basic branding logo offset to the one side to stand out and on the front just feature the logo and the website.

But after giving the design some space and time to develop I decided to follow a different direction as the minimal style just felt too bare bones and unfinished.

I wanted to convey my brand identity front and centre with no other text or visual distractions so a white background and a bold, black standout logo was chosen.

I also wanted to use some of the design styles that I'd loved discovering through my travels on the American road trip last year. So I chose a strong font and design direction that would take inspiration from the old letterpress printing style for the reverse of the cards.

Keeping the contact details subtle amongst the bold 'Hello' was key as I wanted the design to grab peoples attention first then as they look further they'd notice the email address, website and phone number all featuring in the design.

Finally there were the paper stock and finishes to consider. I wanted something tactile and nice to touch yet durable so I decided upon a combination of a silk finish with a spot UV over the front of the cards black logo. I'd usually choose the square option for the cards edges but as this is only a small initial run I wanted to try the softer round edges. They should work well with the tactile feel of the cards and give them some extra durability as the edges are less likely to get creased compared to the sharp square edges. I'm sure the next batch will feature a few more design tweaks to keep them fresh feeling, but for now I'm happy with how they turned out.

Ghost towns of California: Bodie

Back in September of last year during my American road trip I visited one of Californias ghost towns, Bodie. Located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California. /

I was staying in a small town called Twaine Harte which was about a 2 1/2 hour drive away, so it was an early morning start to get to Bodie for some nice morning mountain light.

The majority of the roads were standard paved highways until you get close to the state park where it turns into graded gravel roads which in my little rental car was a little bumpy for the 13 miles it took to get up to the ghost town. The video above from the Bodie website gives you a good idea of the length of the road and the terrain into the park itself.

I spent hours exploring the abandoned streets of the town and peeking into the windows of old decaying buildings, glimpsing moments of a life from the Wild West gold rush days gone by. The light creeping through the gaps in the old wooden walls cast lines of light around the interiors that just highlighted the decrepit wooden constructions of these old buildings.

The air was thin being high above sea level, the sun was hot and the strong winds blew the dusty air across the town making you feel windswept and at times almost sand blasted, but Bodies charm kept revealing itself around every broken down wooden framed corner. Beautiful old barns with old stagecoaches and wagons lay waiting to be discovered, old shop front windows still displaying their sun faded goods. As I crouched to get different angles for my photographs I brushed up against one of the many bushes in amongst the buildings and realised that they were Sage bushes. The smell instantly transported me back to memories of cooking, roast chicken and sage & onion. It was a strange mix of memories and moments combining my comforting, home cooking food memories with the much more harsh Wild West environment I was stood amongst. But it is one of the strongest memories and moments from my visit to Bodie, and one that returns to me whenever I smell sage back home.

Bodie was a town that grew over the 80+ years of it's existence but could never sustain itself through its mining origins. Walking in and around the old homes and buildings you get a sense of history and times changing with revealing layers of wallpaper, worn flooring and old furniture. Many of the old Bourbon bottles and jars that I saw either broken outside in the bushes or remaining in the displays of the windows told a story of how everything had to be imported into the town as it was so remote.

Light streamed through the old dusty windows creating an atmospheric glow to each room I explored, each building and barn providing it's own character with gaps in the wooden roofs letting in light as dust drifted through the air. It is a magical place really, one that I'll never forget and hopefully will get to revisit one day at a different time of the year. Recently an earthquake nearby forced the park to close and be assessed for potential structural damage, so hopefully it'll reopen again soon.

More photographs of Bodie can be found in my photography portfolio at

The benefits of revisiting old photographs

During my recent portfolio refresh and new photography website launch, I revisited and in some cases completely reworked some old images. Using new techniques, presets and ideas I'd developed over the time between when these images were photographed and how I work today I discovered that I had in fact managed to learn a few new tricks along the way!

Simply by approaching the original RAW files with a fresh set of eyes and using new editing techniques to how I handle RAW files to obtain the final end result today, I found that a lot of images seemed to have a new life to them from when I last edited the original photographs.

Some images are still looking as good as if I had edited them today, but a few really benefited from a new reworking. Hopefully you can see the difference and benefits from the left to right sides of these examples, I might have to write a more in depth feature on the new editing processing steps soon. In the last year my post processing techniques and even the camera system I now use has changed massively so it might be an interesting post to describe the current work flow I now use.

The difference a little lighting can make

During the Christmas break my family all ventured out into the cold for the usual Boxing Day walk. As my niece loves wandering around the woods and the book 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' I thought I'd try and capture some images of her adventures through Haldon Forest.

It was a really cold and overcast day but I knew the style of images I wanted to create, ones with warmth, light and a certain sense of woodland 'magic'. So as the straight from camera images were quite flat and cold looking I applied some of my Lightroom presets that I've developed over the last year and did a little Photoshop editing.

These editing stages didn't really involve a lot of work, some exposure balancing, eye brightening, colour temperature and some light effect brushes using Photoshop. The effect when subtly applied in layers was quite effective and produced the visual atmosphere I was looking for coming from the original images. I've added a before and after slider above so you can easily see the difference these lighting based edits can make coming from a straight from camera RAW file to the final image.

We didn't find any Bears, though there's always next time...