Article by Martin Gibson – Twitter: @martingibson @embody3d – 31.08.2011
Typically on Embody 3D we review books with strong relevance to industrial design, and perhaps at first glance a book on photography might appear a little detached from this field. However I want to make a case as to why this area of study is important to industrial designers and how this book can help you excel in this area.
When studying industrial design at university one of the things that took me back was the real broadness of application of industrial design and the array of skills that make up an accomplished designer. Whether it be skills in business, management, communication with multiple disciplines, stakeholders and clients, computer CAD skills, drawing and artistic skills, critical and creative thinking, document writing, marketing, web and graphic design, presentation and speaking skills; an industrial designer truly does it all. The use of photographs plays an integral role for the industrial designer at multiple stages of the design process. Some design studios have the luxury of having qualified photographers on hand or perhaps outsource these services to a professional company. From my experience though I have often seen this task given to industrial designers especially in small companies.
Rethinking Digital Photography – Making & Using Traditional & Contemporary Photo Tools by John Neeland published by Pixiq equips designers with the ability to capture excellent photographs that communicate, escalate, illustrate and document different ideas, concepts, subject matter and products. For industrial designers photographs can be used in the research stage of design to document how existing products are used, or pictures of the target market. Perhaps you could take photos to communicate to your client or colleagues different concepts you have developed whether they are models or snippets used to create layered Photoshop images. Perhaps you need to communicate a prototype or even a finished product to a client or stakeholder in a different city or country your product and it just isn’t viable for them to spend all that money on a plane ticket. Perhaps you need a good photography for a brochure and other marketing material including websites. As you can see the use of photographs is so interconnected with industrial design especially because us creatives are such visual creatures.
Of course Rethinking Digital Photography isn’t specific to designers it really is photos for any enthusiast or profession. Despite this the lessons learnt are transferable. Some of the chapters include:
As you can see these chapter areas could be considered pretty advanced but don’t be deterred the book doesn’t get technical it rather gives simple to understand overviews of these topic areas which you can then pick and choose for further study. While I do have some experience with photography I found many of the concepts very foreign. I had heard from friends about some of the techniques explored in Rethinking Digital Photography before so I really enjoyed the rediscovery and explanation of these concepts in graphic detail.
One question that might be buzzing around your mind is: well do I need to buy a professional camera or own special expensive equipment to garner the most out of this book. While I would say it helps, I assure you even if you’re like me and take 5 megapixel images from an iPhone to send to clients because of its quick capture and email time the issues about image composition and editing will be very beneficial to you still.
The page size is nice and large exploiting the sample shots and so is the colloquial text making it easily digestible. The sample photos capture (no pun intended) the concepts being communicated clearly making the book suitable for all ages and for all skill levels, but I do believe having prior knowledge and passion in photography will procure greater rewards from this book. Rethinking Digital Photography isn’t just about education though, it really was made to inspire creatives to search for different techniques and media to express our age-old visual requirements.