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5 Tips to Taking Better Photos

Posted on April 21, 2016 by

We’re taking more pictures than ever. We have the ability to take countless photos and we have multiple platforms to share them on. As a photographer, I’ve developed my own list of tips to help create more engaging photos for every type of camera. Get out there, and get that killer shot. You might even gain a few “likes” in the process.

  1. Take fewer photos at once

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of snapping a million photos per second to sort through them afterwards and hope that one turned out. Resist. Instead, assess the situation and take a few moments to plan the photo before you even pull out your phone or camera. Once you start shooting, take your time. It’s about quality over quantity.

  1. Move around

After you’ve taken the initial photo you were inspired to get, try again. But this time, move around. The first framing of your subject might be good, but push yourself a little further and you might get something great. The best way to do this is to literally move your feet and walk to a new perspective.

  1. It’s all about the light

Photography is really all about capturing light. Train yourself to see more than just the thing you’re taking the photo of. It’s just as important, if not more important, to see the light around or on the subject of your photo. Generally, the more interesting the lighting in a shot, the more interesting the whole photo will be.

  1. Think differently

Often in photography, your initial idea with a photo has been done before, and done often. Take a moment to really try to see the scene differently. Get into the motivation of the photo and try to show your audience an emotion. If your viewer feels something when they look at your photo, you’re doing something right.

  1. Do your own thing

As with lots of things, rules are meant to be broken. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes and develop your own style. Figure out what you like and make it better. Just keep experimenting and let your photos show your personality.

| April 4 | Design
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Posted on December 18, 2015 by

Being a person who loves watching TV shows, it’s always a treat when a show stands out and puts a unique and creative twist on their title sequence. A show with compelling opening credits not only speaks to the creativity that goes into making a show great, but also compels viewers from the beginning. It is an effective way to establish the tone and style that the show has to offer.

Here is a short list some of my favourite title sequences that show some great creativity:



Orange is the New Black

The Leftovers

American Horror Story: Coven


| December 12 | Design
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Seeing Red? Feeling Blue?

Posted on October 22, 2015 by

Nothing is as powerful as colour when it comes to branding and advertising. There have been attempts to classify consumer responses to colour, but the truth is that the reaction is mostly dependent on personal experiences. This has never been clearer than recently with our provincial and federal elections.

When starting a branding project we invest lots of time into researching the business, competitors and understanding target audience. This becomes the basis for how we make decisions about colour palettes. In a perfect world this would be it. We would make our recommendations, the client would be happy and smooth sailing would ensue. However in reality, personal experiences take over and suddenly there is no blue, no red and no orange allowed. Sometimes even no green.

Right now, clients don’t want consumers associating their brand with a particular political party and quickly start making decisions on this alone. While I don’t disagree that this should be a consideration in certain sectors, its important to remember the consumer and what will appeal to them and what makes the most sense for your business. Blue may be the colour of the PCs but it can also be useful for calming (think water) or in another context to create a sense of sadness or cold.

In an industry where everything is subjective, it’s hard to be objective. Working closely with your agency or designer and being able to have open conversations about colour is an important step to making sure the result is effective. Otherwise, all the designs you would see from me would be some form of grey. Or black.

Grow On

Posted on September 24, 2015 by

I have always been someone who appreciates creativity; it inspires and excites me. What continually blows my mind is knowing that the end result started from a simple idea. Add in a lot of passion and hard work and it blossoms into something extraordinary.

I often catch myself thinking “Wow, someone thought of that!” I suppose it is because I understand what it takes to get there. Brilliance certainly takes time.

I was recently reminded of that again as we attended our twins graduation from the 3D Animation and Visual Effects program at the Vancouver Film School. As part of the graduation, we finally got to see the results of the last 6 months worth of blood, sweat and tears.

These 38 students shared their demo reels with us as we sat in a movie theatre for an hour and 20 minutes. It was incredible. I was surrounded by all of these young brilliant minds that are about to be released into the industry and I found myself blown away once again. Watch out world, here they come.

Our sons have far surpassed any ounce of creativity I may have and we could not be more proud. I want them to “grow on”.  We are just so excited for them as this is simply the beginning of what will be an awe-inspiring journey and career for them.

I could not resist sharing some of their work. Here are the links to the twins’ videos (make sure you watch till the end after the credits with Nathan’s) and some other awesome ones! Sit back, grab a small bag of popcorn and enjoy!

Nathan Dorfer 

Daniel Dorfer

Rodrigo Janz

Michael Cabrera

Vinicius Carneiro


Cut. It. Out.

Posted on August 13, 2015 by

As a designer, I am consistently searching for new tips, techniques, and shortcuts to improve workflow and quality of the final product of a project. Clipping an object out from its background is a task every designer faces, and there are many methods to choose from to execute a successful image separation. A great resource I turn to for design tutorials, resources, and more, is the Spoon Graphics Blog. Thanks to a recent post, I was able to watch a short video tutorial highlighting the various methods of how to clip out anything in Photoshop with fantastic results.

For any designers out there looking to learn something new or improve current processes, this is a great resource. I also recommend signing up for their mailing list to stay up to date with new resources posted to the site frequently.

| August 8 | Design
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Part-Time Graphic Designer

Posted on July 7, 2015 by

We have an opening for a part-time graphic designer looking for an opportunity with a busy marketing firm.

We know that some part-time jobs can be about making coffee, but at zag creative everyone works on actual projects. That’s not to say you’ll never have to make coffee though. If you want a coffee while at work, you’ll have to make it yourself.

Because our part-time designer will be doing real work on small projects and production, we require that they have real skills. In addition to being creative with a talent and passion for graphic design (those are givens), our ideal candidate is also proficient in the Adobe suite. There are additional skills that are an asset to have like pre-press and HTML knowledge, but are not mandatory. We also have a fancy coffee machine but if you can press a button, you’re pretty much set.

If you are looking for a part-time graphic design position and are ready to wow, please submit your resume to Hannah Miller at We are looking for someone that can work two days a week for a 6-month contract period. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews.

*This position has been filled.

Brush up on your brushes

Posted on May 28, 2015 by

Designers, let me lay out a hypothetical situation for you and you let me know if it sounds familiar: You find the perfect photo for a horizontal ad, you layout your ad perfectly, and it looks great. Then suddenly that ad size gets revised to vertical. You might think this is no big deal at first but when you look at the photo you chose, you realize you don’t have enough height on the photo to balance the ad, and that the top of the model’s head is cut off and she has really curly hair, at which point you realize you’re now basically living in a nightmare.

But don’t worry guys, you don’t have to be haunted by the lost hours you spend trying to draw out every errant hair to fill your photo. There’s a better way, which is to download a whole bunch of awesomely well-crafted Photoshop brushes.

Marvelous fellow designers all across the Internet have developed beautiful brushes that you can use to fill in hair, skin, and basically anything else you need. Here’s a few that I love to use for all sorts of different projects. Use them to fix, paint, or add a little spice to your photoshopping life:

Water Colour Brushes: Great for painted effects for illustrations.

Skin Brushes: I know – sounds kind of serial killer-y, but great for touching things up.

Hair Brushes: Perfect for the aforementioned nightmare scenario.

Smoke Brushes: Great for cool type effects.

Butterfly Brushes: Because they’re so pretty!

| May 5 | Design
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Top 5

Posted on April 30, 2015 by

While I love a good challenge, I also love things that make designing easier and more efficient. Here are my top 5 new finds that I think every designer should have in their toolbox:


Whether you work off a 32” monitor or a 13” laptop, desktop space always seems to be an issue with palettes and windows. Most of us carry around a phone or tablet these days and iDisplay can help turn them into secondary monitors. It’s as easy as downloading the desktop app from their site and then grabbing the (paid) app on your device.


Most designers know about the Lipsum site but did you know there is a handy app you can download to your desktop? LittleIpsum adds an icon to your menu bar that you can quickly access and pull one word all the way up to 4 paragraphs of text to use. It’s automatically copied to your clipboard and easily placed into your work.


Nothing makes me happier than a good grid. This Photoshop extension allows for automated layout of your grids and guides, forming rows and columns with automatic gutters, margins and spacing. You are able to save your custom layouts, making it super easy to get a clean set for each new project.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to save down images and optimise them for the web. This handy site takes your images and squeezes the last bytes out of them while retaining the quality. Once it’s done performing its magic you receive them all nicely packaged in a zip for download.


This handy bookmark allows you to highlight and find out what font you are seeing on any website, basically taking any guesswork out of your favourite finds.

| April 4 | Design
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Posted on April 23, 2015 by

The importance of music when it comes to my creative process is integral. From preliminary concepting and sketching, all the way to getting pumped up for a pitch – music feeds my creativity and pushes me to perform to the best of my abilities.

A passion for music was instilled in me from a very young age. Between my dad being a DJ, having music constantly playing in my house, and being in several bands over the years, my relationship with music has been a strong driving force in my life. I not only rely on music to push me creatively, but it is also very therapeutic. Usually if I feel stressed, have a lot on my mind, or am even suffering from a headache, a few hours spent playing or listening to music gets me back to a calm, relaxed state.

I could go on and on about music all day, but instead I will take this opportunity to offer up a shortlist of music on my current daily rotation. Please enjoy.


Broken down by artist and album, tis’ as follows:


OK Go – Hungry Ghosts


The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World


Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi


Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea


The Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird is Home


Alvvays – Alvvays


Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong


The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious


The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

Spring 2015 Fashion Trends: Love It or Hate It?

Posted on April 2, 2015 by

I love clothes and Instagram. I have strong taste. Opinions ensue.

Here’s my take on my favourite (and least favourite) fashion trends on Instagram this spring:

1. Sneakers with Dress Clothes

Love it. My Nike Airs are dressy now? And I can skip the heels? Yes please.

2. Matching Crop Top/Bottoms Sets

Hate it. I just don’t understand why you would want to look like a roll of fabric with a belly button, and frankly, once you own the same statement print in two items, you’re pretty limited in how often you can wear them – together or as separates.

3. Oversized Watches

I’m on the fence about these. They seem to be everywhere, and every “it” blogger seems to have one. I think these are a great way to make an outfit chic without adding clutter, but I feel like the trend has gotten out of control, and they aren’t unique or special anymore.

4. Overalls

Hate it. If you’re 5’11 and 110 pounds, go for it. But for mere mortals, I don’t think these are flattering, so following the trend probably isn’t worth the investment.

5. 90s Minimalism

Love it. This is probably my most favourite trend of 2015. There’s something so elegant and glamorous about the clean lines and streamlined silhouettes of the 90s, and this trend is very easy (and inexpensive) to integrate into your wardrobe.


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