Where photography and UX design meet, part 1

10 reasons why black & white photography made me a better UX designer: Or the other way around.

Gaël van Heijst
Feb 26 · 3 min read
Framing the world, either through design or photography. Image by me ;)

I like to think the essence of having a healthy work-life balans is being able to see how one affects the other. In that way, no time goes ‘wasted’, if it ever really does. I wrote the following in a way that it can be seen from both perspectives. One as a UX designer, the other as a hobby photographer.

TL:DR: If not a quasi-philosophical way of looking at work-life balance, a soft nudge and gentle reminder to be a bit more #10 :)


#01 | Do the research

Do you feel comfortable working in Manual-mode?

Measuring the conditions you’re gonna be working in is key. One thing of growing in something you love is knowing the parameters with which to measure its success. It’s best to dress for bad weather, and bring an umbrella in all cases. Knowing what dials to turn and can be turned, is essential.

#02 | Know the tools

Sketch or Canon? Figma or Nikon?

Along the way I’ve learned possibilities and limitations of tools. Which are best to pick for a certain job. Even though I get to love a tool, I can be horribly wrong about it and screw up a project. It’s good to have a few workhorses, but being able to switch between them in a hardbeat, might just be as valuable.

#03 | Cherrypick the details

The details matter the most.

Not having to worry about certain aspects such as style and color, leaves you to focus on the details. Since you are in control of the work, you get to decide what goes in the frame.

#04 | Leave out

Designing is the art of leaving out.

The best design is when nothing else can be taken away. Famous words to live by. As a creator, you can control the environment to a certain extent. The beauty of this craft is that mixing and matching colour doesn’t really matter, as long as the content and story is good.

#05 | Make a storyline

A great story is half the work.

With a clear story in mind, the journey and hunt becomes way easier. It’s easier to reflect on something you defined beforehand. Making an agenda on the go is just reacting to the present. So sketching out a story beforehand will help to defend your choices.

#06 | Show multiple frames

Take the time to explain the work.

When I was younger, I felt like cramming everything in one frame. I’ve learned that there is absolutely no need in doing so. Showing multiple scenes will guide the audience along. Never forget that we can not control the frame that our works are shown in. We can only control the way we’ve shipped it.

#07 | Love the process, not the outcome

Some things are not meant to have a clear result.

The other day I asked a random stranger to work with me, his answer surprised me, since he was more then willing to corporate. I missed getting the perfect picture of him, but that didn’t matter. I learned from the process, and stepped out of the comfortzone. The end-result might get blurry, but the journey is sharp as f.

#08 | Make the hours

Life gets better, once you start living it a bit.

Nothing remarkable ever came from doing nothing. It’s a simple rule. But it means I try to practice both crafts almost every day, in order to be better this day than where I was last year.

#09 | Have some fun

Not everything has to be so serious.

Joke around and found some like-minded people. If not at a workplace, they must be hiding somewhere on the world wide web. I learned that there are more people like me, thinking: “where are the like-minded?” Then I turn outward, and I’ve found them.

#10 | Be a human

Look around and empathise with people around you.

Empathise with the people around you. Put some f-ing love in the work. People will always love or hate it. Be opinionated and have some critique as well.

It’s only human :)

Gaël van Heijst

Written by

Design & write, photography on the side | UX Designer @ Clockwork, Amsterdam | www.gaelvanheijst.nl

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