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Andy Mallalieu, Web Designer: Imagery Can Make or Break a Project

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This post is part of a series called Conversations With Creative Collaborators.
Conversations with Creative Collaborators: Dewi Lewis, Photo Book Publisher
Richard Pearson, Art Director: Creativity, Trust and Building a Shared Vision

Hey Andy, could you briefly explain your role as a web designer?

Hello, nice to meet you. Yes, I’m co-founder of Nine Sixty, a design and digital studio based in Manchester. I work along side Mark, a front-end developer. My roll on digital projects starts with the research and planning. I then work along side Mark to do the UX and create the wireframes. Once this is done I get creative with the designs, then Mark takes over and brings it all alive.

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How closely do you work with photographers, do you ever commission a photographer to take images for a project?

We’ve worked with various photographers over the years and built up some good relationships with them. Due to the clients' budget its not always possible to get a photographer involved but it’s always nice when you get some bespoke photography done for a project.

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Do you actively encourage clients to include photographic imagery on a site? If so, why?

We take each project as it comes. If we feel the project will benefit from photography then yes, we encourage it. We also stress the importance of good photography. Good imagery on a website can really make or break a project.

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When working on a site, do you have a say in image selection, or is that usually up to the client? 

Yes, we always like to get involved in each stage of the process. We usually shortlist a selection and then between us and the client we choose the final ones. Sometimes it’s a bit of 'trial and error' finding an image that works well with the designs; an image on its own might look great but when used in situ, say with some text over the top, it might not work so well.

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What requirements do you have for imagery, either technically or aesthetically? 

During the design stage of a project we usually create moodboards for the type of imagery we’re after. We often use placeholders similar to the final shots to ensure everything sits well together and replace them once the photos have been taken. We also have to consider that the imagery will be used across multiple devices, as a result we try to ensure that the imagery is flexible enough to accommodate for this. 

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In your experience, does that vary from a photographers natural inclination of what to shoot and how to shoot it?

Yes it does, and it helps to have a good working relationship with photographers. You might have a certain photographer in mind that you’ve worked with before that you think would be perfect for the job. 

How do you think these requirements vary compared to use in print? 

You have more control with the imagery in print, as you can see exactly how the image with sit, in terms of crop and position. As I touched on earlier, imagery on a website might be seen on a large desktop, tablet or phone, so it needs to adapt and work well on all screen sizes. 

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What advice would you give to a photographer looking to get work used or commissioned for new sites?

Get in touch with agencies you feel would be a good match. Say hello, show them your work and keep in touch, so when a suitable job comes along you’re at the front of their mind.

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