Finishing out a year of photo galleries

In November, putting together the winter issue of Gadsden Style + some vacation time = no photo gallery. But this month, I have two!

Papermaking at Gaston

Papermaking at Gaston

Visit the Gadsden Times photo gallery here.

Traveling Tales

Santa toilet tube

Visit the Gadsden Times photo gallery here.

(More galleries linked in this post.)

Love Without Boundaries' gift cards

LWB needed a redesign for their gift cards. We made one set to use year-round and a holiday set. A few examples:

And while we were at it, we re-did the memorial gift card, as well:

My favorite part of designing these cards is scrolling through the LWB photostream and trying to find an image that captures the viewer and conveys the heart of the program. (And of course I managed to work my daughter Zoe in one – via her preschool Christmas party!)

Comics header redesign

Years ago, I asked my executive editor if I could redesign the header on our then comics page. He said no, because they were printed out of house and we had no control over the header.

And now, about ten years later, he came back and said "hey, I need you to redesign the header for the comics page."

Do all projects come around in time?

Here was the design mine replaced (not the same one of yore that I wanted gone, though)...

CM Saunders book covers

After I worked with Christina on her law firm logo, I did a couple of book covers for her. My attempt was to give them a similar feel but for each to have its own personality — the author is the same but the story is different.

As an in-joke to self, I used one of the fonts that is core to the Gadsden Times print product (Miller Display) since Christina used to work on the copy desk.

Fire Bearer, Esquire is available for Kindle on Amazon.

Women in Small Business

October is Women's Small Business Month. My coworker Sarah Dudik set a goal to photograph and interview four of the (many!) women business owners downtown.

But October is also football season, and Sarah is rather busy shooting games. (And magazine assignments for the winter issue of Gadsden Style.) So, she recruited me to write the stories.

Then our editors decided to publish them on Saturdays and this October has five of those... so we expanded our series to cover five women who own businesses downtown.

First up was Michelle Bailey, owner of the fabric store Material Girls.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I knew if I opened a business, it would be downtown,” she says.

Michelle is from Fayette. She fell in love with a Gadsden boy, Chad Bailey, while he was at the University of Alabama. They married, and Michelle moved to Gadsden, which is when she fell in love with the downtown district.

“It’s just beautiful — the trees, the sidewalks, the architecture,” she says.

Read the full story here.

Next, we visited Anna Heard at Jireh's Boutique & Gifts.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I knew it would be more than just a place for people to shop,” she said. “We rejoice together. We laugh together. We celebrate together.

“It’s a girlfriend-family thing. Once they become a customer, they’re more like friends,” she said. “I’ve had some of my customers since day one. I’ve seen their children grow up. It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years. It’s been fun.”

Full story here.

The middle of the month went to Tammy Harvey at The Coffee Well.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“There are no words to express how much I enjoy meeting the people,” she said. “I love what I do. I’m here most every day from open to close. I’m afraid I’m going to miss somebody.”

Before owning a coffeehouse, Tammy was a one-cup-a-day drinker.

“I still don’t drink it all day,” she said. “I like the taste. It’s a neutralizer. So many people like it. It’s a common ground, an equalizer. People feel more open in a place like this.”

Tammy's tale is here.

Next, we went to Janice Sherrell, owner of Remona's LaDiva Boutique.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“There was a dress I wanted from Ike Saks, and I hoped my grandmother would buy it for me,” she recalled. “But she said, ‘Janice, I just can’t.’ So I went to Alabama Fabric Store and got fabric and ribbon. I made a dress by hand and wore it to the junior prom.”

These days, Sherrell lends her hand to girls in need of a special outfit for their high school milestones.

Raveen Martin, Gadsden City High School’s homecoming queen, wore a red dress from Remona’s in the homecoming parade.

Read all about Remona's here.

And we wrapped the series with Inez Fambrough and her drapery and design center.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I’m well past retirement age but have never even thought about it,” said Fambrough.

The drapery and design center opened in 1989, but Fambrough managed the Sears custom shop for 23 years before that.

“Sears still sends me business sometimes,” she said.

Full story here.

Glad to have this assignment in the bag!

Assignment adjacent


I snapped a photo of these "cheesewagons" on my way to a photo assignment this morning.

I was at Convention Hall to take photographs of the Message in the Bottle symposium hosted by Keep Etowah Beautiful. The assignment was timed so I'd be there for the "critter show," because it's fun to see kids react to bugs and such...

Madagascar hissing roach on Noah

But I loved looking at all of the posters created by elementary school students.


Last week, I attended the Darden Rehabilitation awards luncheon and on my way out of the parking lot, a train passed in front of Back Forty Beer Company and I had just enough time to take this:

Back Forty, train

I posted a link to it on their Facebook page and they liked it, too. Here is their cropped and processed version:

Saunders Firm logo

A former Times coworker, Christina Saunders, is opening her law firm and needed a logo. I am honored that she came to me!

We used a swoopy S and peach accents to denote she's a gal and steady blues to convey her trustworthiness.

These are the initial mocks I sent her way:

Gadsden Style: Fall 2011 issue

The fall issue of Gadsden Style came out on Friday (a week late!) and I was so excited to have the final product in my hands. I think it’s our best issue yet.

Somehow, we ended with Too Much Content. A boon to our readers, a design conundrum for me. How to fit it all in and give everything its due?

On a couple of packages, I wished for more real estate to work with. Lisa Nail’s Arizona photos were spectacular and I really would have preferred four pages to showcase them, but I had to make do with three.

The James D. Martin package was a happy byproduct of little space. “There are how many photos with this story? And it’s how many inches long?”

My byline contributions to this issue were the Auburn and Alabama rooms. I considered myself neutral territory enough to write them both.

I am nerdily excited about the head and subhead of Jill’s story. I worked on that package on a day our editor Cyndi was not in the office and she is my Headline Guru. I sought the help of Kendra Carter, Auburn alum. She was like “maybe you could do a play on the Auburn creed in the subhead... you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

Nope. But she sent me the creed and voila! Subhead!

I confessed to both Tom and Jill that I am a Bama fan in pretty much name (and the occasional crimson tee) alone. If I have to pick a team, I pick the Tide because my parents met at the University and without it, I would not exist. But I know less than nothing about football. Well, I know that a “field goal” is 3 points and that a touchdown is either 6 or 7 and may involve one team getting the ball to the other end of the field.

I was super excited that the magazine came out on Friday and the following day, I got to see Club TBLTT in action.

Find your issue now!

Birth announcement series

The first birth announcement I designed was for my son Ben.

My pal Kristie had her first son a few months later, and I designed the birth announcement for Elias. (Apparently I remembered to post it to Flickr but never blogged it.)

Elias' birth announcement

I forgot to post this in July. The cool thing is that after E was born, when I opened the file to put in his real stats, I only had to change the day and time. I had guessed his exact weight and length.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008 and I blogged about the original design for Jacob (Kristie's second son) but never revealed the actual design!

Jacob's birth announcement

Also, since Jacob's name is now long-revealed, I can explain what I meant by:

Edward Asher is not the kid's name, by the way. That's the substitute for his real name, chosen for reasons probably only funny to me.

Jacob and Edward = dudes in the Twilight novels. Nathanael and Asher = dudes in the Anita Blake novels.

This year, Kristie went and had a girl. We went with a design reminiscent of the boys but with its own flavor. She is a girl, after all!

Anna Ruth's birth announcement

Mobile Dairy Classroom


My September photo gallery for turned out to be the Mobile Dairy Classroom.

This was at a local elementary school. The last time I was there, it was as a reporter to cover the principal being duct-taped to the wall. This time, I walked to the gym and asked "is this where the cow will be?"

"No, it'll be back there... you know what? Just follow this class coming out. That's where they're headed."

I know one student who goes to this school. And it happened to be her class on the way to meet Butterbean the Jersey cow.

Sunlight in the hair

This was a fun assignment. Cow! Kiddos. I ended up recognizing another girl, too. She and Zoe were daycare pals.

One of Zoe's former daycare pals

I like the lines in this one:

My Skills Pay the Bills

"My Skills Pay The Bills" is less troubling than "I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me."

Hey, did you know cows can pick their nose with their tongue?

Butterbean pickin' her own nose

Fishers of Men youth group t-shirt design

(Unused) t-shirt design

Last year, I did the Be An Example t-shirt design based on 1 Timothy 4:12.

This year, the verse is Matthew 4:19. This design didn't get used, though, so I thought I should post it somewhere!

Vector vs. Raster

I have yet to find an easy way to describe the difference between a raster image and a vector graphic. Here's a portion of the Wikipedia entry on Vector Graphics:

Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics.

Vector graphics formats are complementary to raster graphics, which is the representation of images as an array of pixels, as is typically used for the representation of photographic images. Vector graphics are stored as mathematical expressions as opposed to bit mapped graphics which are stored as a series of mapped 'dots', also known as pixels (Picture cells).

That doesn't exactly translate, does it? Well, neither does me trying to explain that a vector graphic "is still shapes" and a raster graphic "is flat." I have no words. I rely on showing somebody on my computer screen.

My most recent foray into vector graphics involved my veterinarian's office. Rainbow City Pet Clinic is one of the four sponsors of GT Preps. All of the promotions (ads, business cards, mini-footballs) for GT Preps include the sponsors' logos.

I was emailed two copies of the RBC Pet Clinic logo to work with. One was a JPG that had been pulled off the website. And the second one was where somebody opened an Adobe Illustrator document, placed the JPG from the web, converted it to grayscale and then saved the image as an EPS.

(Placing a raster image on a page and then saving the document as an EPS or PDF will not magically make it into a vector graphic. Just so you know.)

But I had a font similar to the one used in the logo, so I was able to re-create a reasonable facsimile. La-dee-dah, problem solved.

Until the sales rep for RBC Pet Clinic informed me they have a new logo and sent me a JPG. By then, all of the promos were built. I had used the logos in white over a black field. I needed a vector version of the logo.

Rarely does anybody know what I'm talking about when I say I need vector. I used to ask for an EPS or a PDF, because I felt like if the company had maybe a disk with various versions of their logo, then send me the one that ends .EPS or .PDF, y'know?

But the file format is not the issue. Sometimes, you need the lines. The shapes. The "geometrical primitives" as per the Wiki.

Imagine if I had tried to call the vet's office myself.

"Rainbow City Pet Clinic, how may I help you?"

"Yeah, hi. I work at the Times. I need to speak with a manager or somebody who knows anything about you guys buying ads and/or contracting designers to update your logo. Because that's who I really need to speak with: the person who made your logo. They'll have what I need and know what I'm talking about."

Yeah, no.

I don't know how it went down, but when I got to work a few days later, I had an email from the sales rep. The attachment's file name included "logo_final.eps" and I crossed my fingers.

Vector success!

And just because I might need again, yet another attempt to explain the difference:

The difference between vector and raster graphics is that raster graphics are composed of pixels, while vector graphics are composed of paths. A raster graphic, such as a gif or jpeg, is an array of pixels of various colors, which together form an image. A vector graphic, such as an .eps file or Adobe Illustrator? file, is composed of paths, or lines, that are either straight or curved. The data file for a vector image contains the points where the paths start and end, how much the paths curve, and the colors that either border or fill the paths. Because vector graphics are not made of pixels, the images can be scaled to be very large without losing quality. Raster graphics, on the other hand, become "blocky," since each pixel increases in size as the image is made larger. This is why logos and other designs are typically created in vector format -- the quality will look the same on a business card as it will on a billboard.

GTpreps logo and branding

Awhile back, the Times' executive editor and online producer gave me the heads up that we would be rolling out a new site,, and would need a logo/branding/color scheme. The site has been live for about a week now.

A caveat for logos these days is that you need a portion of it to work in a small square space for the myriad of social media sites. For GTpreps, it will be the lowercase gt.

The font is Rockwell, all blocky and varsity like since it's a high school sports site.

The color scheme is mostly charcoal and white (masculine) with green accents (grass - the kind sports are played on, not smoked).

I planned on posting the first mocks I made for the preps logo. But on second thought, they are so embarrassingly bad, I think I will keep them to my desktop self.

Gadsden Times photo galleries

One of 2011 goals at work is to produce at least one photo gallery per month.

In August, I shot the St. James Rummage Sale Prep, complete with the Pope on a plate!

Pope on a plate

In July, it was the Alabama 4-H Raptors at the RBC Library.


Some of those shots also ran in the paper as feature photos:

A1 raptors

June was Starshine Faces at the GPL. May was Links for Literacy. April was the Plein Air Invitational.

2011 Plein Air Invitational at the Gadsden Museum of Art

I wonder what September will be.

Gadsden Style magazine: Summer 2011

The Summer 2011 issue of Gadsden Style is available now. It’s the “beach issue.”

The Powers That Be (as in editors, not enigmatic entities) felt that because so many locals vacation to the shore, we should feature it heavily in the summer issue. I agree. Sadly, we don’t have a travel budget that allowed us to visit the beach and collect imagery and info firsthand.

We do, however, have an excellent contributor in the form of Laura McGill (and she wrangled Lucinda Taylor into the issue).

But when it came time for me to put the magazine together, I found I wanted more photographs to work with. So I took to Flickr.

Thank you so much, Shutterdawg84, purduebob and stephsthename. The packages on Lulu’s and Ship Island would have been so lackluster without your help.

I was excited to work with the images that Dave Hyatt shot for a photo essay about Cherokee Rock Village. (One of my favorites didn’t fit with the rest of the package, so I used it as the issue’s “last look.”)

I suggested the Finlayson pool as the Favorite Space for this issue. The package turned out so well!

And sweet serendipity — for the story about the Gone With The Wind exhibit, I didn’t have what I felt to be the right lead art. But Cyndi remembered that Sarah had taken a photo for the paper of a woman dressed as Scarlett for a church homecoming. (Does anybody know Jerri Lankford? I hope she gets an issue of the magazine.)