Creative Backdrops for Your At-Home Photography Studio

Creative backdrops for at-home photography studio

Operating an at-home photography business or taking photos to use in your graphic design work can be convenient, efficient and enjoyable. It also can be expensive. If you can be as creative with do-it-yourself projects as you are with your camera, you will find that you can afford and create several creative and eye-catching backdrops in your own home.

Get the Foundation Right

If you are new to the at-home photography business, there are a few steps you should follow. First, dedicate a room that has plenty of space to be your studio. Make sure it has good lighting and a neutral color on the walls. Any greens, reds or blues will kill your color balance, so stick to whites or grays. You also might want to lay down a tarp to avoid any colors bouncing off from the floor.

Once you have the room set up, install a backdrop holder. Using a half-inch galvanized pipe, plates and some conduit, you can screw in a backdrop holder either onto the wall or from the ceiling.

Now, you can begin making backdrops. Amazon offers basic backdrops for as much as $40. However, consider adding colorful, elegant drapes to the windows to give off a homey feeling. Custom drapes can be found online from retailers like The Shade Store.

Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire is a fun, creative tool that you can use over and over again. To make a custom heart background, you’ll need:

  • Staple gun
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Spray paint
  • 3 pieces of one-inch by two-inch wood, six feet in length
  • Color material to create your effect.

Then, red napkins can be stuffed into the chicken wire to make a heart shape. With the chicken wire frame up, plot the points of your heart with napkins, and make the outline. Then you only need to fill in the outline.

Use Strings

This tasty idea can give you a 3-D effect by using stringed marshmallows. If you hang strings of marshmallows from the ceiling, it will give your backdrop a snowing effect. If you don’t have marshmallows, cotton balls or Christmas tree bulbs can be used instead.

Colorful yarn also can be an interesting tool. You can mix and match colors that can blend with your object or be in contrast to it. The yarn needs only to hang from your backdrop frame. However you choose to make it, you have a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, and the only thing you need is yarn, scissors and a creative mind.

Find Miscellaneous Items

Believe it or not, you may have the ultimate backdrop material already in your home. Here are just a few examples:

  • Using your neutral-colored wall, you can use colored tissue paper from your gift-wrapping arsenal to create a paper flower backdrop. The DIY website Lovely Indeed demonstrates how to make the flowers step by step.
  • If making paper flowers is too time-consuming, then book pages might be easier. Strategically place book pages onto a canvas to give your backdrop a unique, elegant and fun look.
  • Or, if you’re in a pinch, line blown-up balloons together to bring out some color in your shots. These can be really versatile because there are so many kinds, colors and sizes, giving you an infinite number of ways to set them up.
  • Finally, keep it simple by using gift-wrapping paper. This is easy to use, inexpensive and full of unique patterns. This is especially great for baby photos. And, all you need is some tape and scissors before your backdrop is ready to go.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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4 Easy Steps to Creating Engaging Video Content

 

Add video to mobile marketing

Visual content marketing, or the use of video in your website’s content, has grown exponentially over the last few years. According to numbers published by Ooyala, mobile and tablet video watching has grown a staggering 532% since 2012. Taking advantage of the new trend to couple content with video is key in your content’s success in engaging consumers. Here are some ways that you can use video to engage your audiences and keep them coming back for more.

Teach Them Something

Your audience may be interested in your product, but may be unsure of how to use it or are confused about its applications. Smart content coupled with instructive videos can engage and inspire consumers to make the jump from interested to invested. For example, Callaway Golf’s online show, “Callaway Talks,” is a video podcast where pros talk about equipment, performance and innovations within the world of Callaway Golf clubs. The information provided, discussions, and debates are all powerful content marketing tools utilized by Callaway to reach out to consumers with video content.

Tell Them a Story

The line between marketing and entertainment is becoming more blurred than ever before. No recent advertisement serves as a better example of how entertaining content can serve to capture the imagination of consumers and engage them in your brand than the recent viral video shared by the Wall Street Journal of Jean-Claude Van Damme doing powerful splits between two Volvo Trucks. In just a minute and a half Volvo created massive social media buzz and demonstrated to the world the stability and control of Volvo’s powerful Dynamic Steering systems. You may not have world-class martial artists at your disposal, there are plenty of royalty-free stock videos available online. With clever editing, narration and your own video content, even stock video can be utilized to craft a memorable tale to capture consumer attention.

Get Them to Relate

If your brand isn’t strong, most consumers will see you as just another faceless company with something to sell them. By adding a compelling and human face to your online presence, you can draw in customers on an emotional level and help them relate to you. Global arc welder manufacturer Lincoln Electric crafts oxyfuel cutting devices and distributes soldering alloys internationally—not exactly a relatable business for most consumers. However, through personal and introspective videos available on their LincolnElectricTV YouTube Channel, Lincoln electric connects with consumers by showing them how welding helps in the creation of everything from farm equipment to roller coasters. With the video tagline of “Welding Makes This World Possible,” Lincoln Electric grabs consumers emotionally and makes them take a second look at the products and people that they may not have ever given a second thought to.

Let Them Participate

The final tool in your video content arsenal comes from your customers themselves. Encourage your customer base to create their own videos sharing how your product or service effects their life, and share the ones that best represent your brand. In doing so, you essentially crowdsource your marketing directly to your audience, and create a connection with them. Everyone wants to be famous for a moment, and sharing consumer created video content is a sure way to get them talking about your product with their friends and families. Integrated marketing that truly engages your audience is the goal. Check out these links to see how companies like Taco Bell and Traveler Beer are utilizing creative ways to bring their customers into their marketing outreach.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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PhotoShop Makes it Easy to Quickly Straighten a Scan or Photo

 

 

If you begin work with a raw photograph or scan, chances are the image will be off-kilter – maybe just a little bit crooked, maybe a lot. Here’s an easy fix to straighten your image that does not require guesswork of how many degrees or rotation are needed.
Photo in need of alignment

In the sample image above, the subjects appear to be walking up a slight hill, but our objective is to have them on level ground. Beginning with CS5, the PhotoShop tools got a whole lot smarter and you can now Straighten a photo with the click of a button. The Crop tool itself will allow you to manually rotate the image, just by clicking slightly outside the crop area and pulling the image in whatever direction you desire. To have PhotoShop straighten your photo exactly, just click the “Straighten” button in the Toolbar at the top. This accesses your Ruler tool to draw a line on your image that you want to use to make your image plumb. The new tools make what use to be a more difficult task very intuitive and easy.
The “old” way of doing this was to get the Ruler tool (its hidden away on the fly-out menu of the Eyedropper tool). Find a line or edge in your image that you want to be perfectly horizontal.  Click and drag out a line with the ruler tool that you want to be exactly 90° perpendicular to vertical. Choose Image – Rotate – Arbitrary. The exact amount of rotation needed (to the 100th of a degree!) will be entered into the “Arbitrary” amount box. Just hit enter and your image will rotate clockwise or counterclockwise as needed according to the line you drew.

Using the Ruler Tool in PhotoSHop

Find the “horizon” or edge you want to be perfectly horizontal in your image and drag the ruler tool across it.

Rotate Image in PhotoShop

Image – Rotate Image – Arbitrary

Rotate Image in PhotoShop

The exact amount needed is automatically filled in the Rotation Amount

Straightened Image before recropping

Image aligned with drawn line, before recropping.

Finished photo after alignment

After aligning, you will need to recrop the image to make it square again. But the girl walking her dog is now on level ground. If your image was a scan of a document or printed photograph, aligning with the edge of the original will bring the image plumb again.

Thanks to CS5 and beyond, you may never need this again!

 

 

 

 

Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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Kuler is now Color! Plus, the New Color Theme Tool in Adobe InDesign CC 2014

 

InDesign-AdobeColor1

InDesign Color Themes Tool in ToolbarThe latest update for Adobe InDesign CC 2014 gives you a great new tool for creating a beautiful matching color palette based on the images and artwork already in your layout. The Color Theme tool will create for you 5 different 5-swatch palettes or themes of color with a simple click based on the objects you have selected on your page, which you can then add to your swatches palette or export to Adobe Color (formerly Kuler – will get to that in a moment) for use in other applications and on other devices.

InDesign-ColorThemesIf you have a photograph placed on your page, select the new tool then click the photo. The Color Theme tool will select a range or palette of colors based on that image. It will also work on a vector object, shape or a selected area of your layout including several different objects. A main 5-swatch color theme shows up automatically. By clicking on the down arrow you will see four additional “themes”: Colorful, Bright, Dark and Muted. These will give you variations of the basic theme from which to choose.

InDesign-OutputIntentA button to the right allows you to add any or all of the themes to your Swatches palette. Option clicking that button will allow you to add just an individual color. The colors are by default defined according to your “document intent.” If you hadn’t noticed, whenever you create a new InDesign document, there is a drop-down menu called Intent where you choose if your creation is heading for the Print world, for the Web or for Digital Publishing (e-Pubs). By double clicking the actual Color Theme tool in the toolbar, you can choose to leave your colors “defined as per document intent” or go ahead and decide for yourself to have the colors rendered as CMYK or RGB. In the prepress department here, we were hoping the tool would include the magic of matching the closest PMS color to the selected sample, but no such luck…..yet.

InDesignColorThemes-PalettesNow here’s another new feature. Adobe Kuler is now Adobe Color. You can access your Creative Cloud Color account directly in InDesign by going to Window – Color – Adobe Color Themes. In the panel that opens, you can access all your previously defined Kuler… er, Color themes, explore the themes of others just as you did with the mobile app or online, or create new ones from scratch. Any themes you create in PhotoShop or Illustrator are also here to share. Adobe has integrated the favorite advancements of its former Kuler app directly into the Creative Cloud applications in a very seamless, easy to use way.

InDesign-WhatsNewYou can watch a couple of very brief overviews of these new features from Adobe by going to Help – What’s New… These new features are very intuitive and a great tool for your color inspiration. The integration of Adobe Color directly into the Creative Cloud apps is very handy and will be welcomed by the Kuler/Color community, though I’m already finding it difficult to stop calling it Kuler.

 

Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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Why We Started Double Spacing after Each Sentence, and Why Typography Says “STOP!”

 

"One day, we will not have to separate sentences with two spaces."

 

The first thing I was told years ago on my very first day of work in prepress was to forget the old rule from high school typing class about using two spaces between sentences. When you learned to type on a typewriter, that became second nature and it was a hard habit to break in the beginning. But I only recently learned the reason WHY two spaces are no longer used, thanks to an excellent history of the phenomenon by Farhad Manjoo over at Slate. He makes a convincing case for why today you should “never, ever do it.” Knowing the reason always beats the the standard justification of “because that’s how it’s done today.”

First, rules in typography really are rules! Of course there are exceptions where rules are broken for good reason, but “that’s how I was taught” is not one of them! The rules of typography were agreed upon over years and years of professional development of “best practices.” In the early days of typesetting – so they tell us – the rules had not been developed yet. Printed material might have one space between sentences, it might have four. What was a “space” anyway? The size certainly varied. But as time rolled on, typesetters standardized their work and one space became the rule. Enter the typewriter.

Monospace type examplesTypewriters revolutionized business communications, and also created the need for the now outdated 2-space rule. Typewriters before the 1970s were monospaced – each letter the same width as any of the other letters or characters, unlike the type you are reading right now. Typewriters had no kerning or tracking capabilities and the result was difficulty in distinguishing sentences from each other because of all the “loose” spacing between letters. Two spaces between sentences proved to be generally more pleasing to the eye and easier to read.

So that’s the reason. But we aren’t using typewriters anymore! Even the later typewriters employed proportional type, ending the need for any extra spaces. Two spaces make an unpleasant gap in blocks of type. In the prepress department, the first step to placing and laying out a customer’s text is to do a “Find – Replace” for two spaces.

If you are still dropping in those extra spaces between sentences, you are not only saying that you are most likely over 40 and learned to type on a typewriter, but that you don’t like change very much! It really isn’t that hard a habit to break. Some specific workplaces or disciplines still cling to the two-space rule… I’ve heard the legal world is one of those. If you earn your living in one of those fields, you have an excuse. Otherwise, if you choose to hang onto the old 2-space rule, just be aware that the visual text you are creating in your emails and documents is saying things about you which you may not intend!

…and one more unbreakable rule: no indenting paragraphs with FIVE SPACES! Still see that typewriter holdover from time to time as well.

 

 

Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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