I’m Michael Dick, a graphic designer, photographer, creative and the passionate founder of the creative hub that is the small but perfectly formed, The Shortbread Shed.
I’ve been a graphic designer for over 27 years, a photographer for over 15 years and a creative thinker all my life. Ever since secondary school all I ever wanted to do was be a creative individual. My granddad was a photographer, my dad, along with three of his brothers were also photographers. My Grandma went to the Glasgow School of Art and was an accomplished painter and illustrator so I guess that creativity has flowed down the blood line to me!
The name, The Shortbread Shed, came about after a lengthy search for something unique and a bit different to call this creative operation. It was a nod to my Scottishness and my desire to create distinctive and original Scottish designs. However, not to limit myself, over time I have expanded the borders of my creativity to involve so much more. As for the shed. Yes I do have a shed at the bottom of the garden and I love it. It’s full of design and photography books and it’s my creative hub where all the magic happens!
What The Shortbread Shed does
Print is my favourite medium and I love the tactile qualities it imparts. Uncoated paper is my choice of stock. There’s something really special about opening a freshly printed piece for the first time. No creases, finger marks, blemishes or scuffs. It feels great to be the first to touch and smell the fresh ink on paper, giving another tickle on the senses.
Photo books – I create unique, high quality photo books that tell a unique story. A picture may be worth a thousand words but without a caption it may only be worth just a few. Text, headings, captions, colour, flow and direction are just as important as pictures when trying to tell a story. So once the layout is complete and looking great it’s then onto picking the finishes. What paper to print on, coated or uncoated, white or coloured stock. How about the cover, should it be a hard cover or soft cover. All of these stages are essential to turn an ordinary book into something uniquely special.
- These photo books are treasured. They are the ones that are proudly on display on the coffee table at home or in a companies reception. It has a professional look about it, a weight to it, a smell and a tactile quality that informs somebody who you are.
- I create intriguing and unique crafted stationery items. Notebooks in all shapes and sizes that have a special tactile quality to them, visually appealing and incorporating special folding and binding techniques.
- Bespoke folders and envelopes in all shapes and sizes.
- Creative note cards to inspire.
- I’m a documentary, reportage story telling photographer. Using contemporary fine art and artistic techniques.
- I photograph a lot of events especially for awards, exhibitions, private parties and sporting occasions.
- I have a keen eye for a portrait headshot, whether corporate or for private individuals.
- My creative design background influences how I produce my photography today. Instead of creating the normal ‘safe’ shots, I strive to do something a bit more unique and interesting.
Below are a selection and a brief description of the creative photography techniques and processes I use:
A still photograph in which a small section shows subtle repeated movement while the rest of the image remains static.
A photographic technique in which one picture is assembled from several overlapping photographs.
A combination of several photographs joined together for artistic effect or to show more of the subject than can be shown in a single photograph.
Using a slow shutter speed will add motion blur to a subject to enhance the objects implied movement.
An identifying photograph of a suspect/criminal, showing a front and profile view. Actually, we don’t really take Mugshots for the police. We take highly stylised contemporary images that look fantastic on the wall.
A multiple exposure is the superimposition of two or more images to create a single image.
Stop-motion is a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started one frame at a time. The individual images are then combined and played back at normal speed to give the impression of movement.
Time-lapse is where a camera takes a sequence of images over a set interval of time recording the slow changes that take place. The time between each image varies depending on the desired outcome and can take anything from less than a second to several hours or even days. When the images are combined and played back at normal film speed, an event that could have taken days to occur can now be seen over just a few seconds.
Originally a tintype/Wet Plate was a photograph taken as a positive on a thin sheet of metal. A unique one-of-a-kind photographic image. Usually mono or sepia in colour, with a very shallow depth of field, the portraits tend to create incredibly striking eyes within the image. Due to the specific type of equipment and not so pleasant chemicals involved in creating these stylistic images we create our Tintypes/Wet Plates digitally.
A picture that combines three images, intended to be appreciated together as one. They can be made up from the same image or a combination of completely separate images showing a theme or contrasting ideas.
Mix all three ingredients together – design, photography, and creativity and you get The Shortbread Shed.
A few things that might interest you about me
- I grew up in a stunning location just south west of Loch Lomond in Scotland. In 1996 I moved south of the border to England and after a few residencies in various locations I now live in the beautiful city of St Albans, Hertfordshire, England with my wife and son.
- Ahoy there shipmates! – In 2000/2001 I set sail around the world taking part in the world’s toughest yacht race – The BT Global Challenge (A 36,000 nautical mile circumnavigation of the globe against prevailing winds and currents). I had NO sailing experience prior to me signing up three years before the race start, it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. To me it was all about the adventure. Twelve teams took part setting off from Southampton, heading across the Atlantic for Boston. Then it was onto Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Cape Town, La Rochelle, and finally back home to good old Blighty, finishing back in Southampton and completing our seven leg yacht race around the world. There were 12 identical yachts that took part, 72’ long, made from steel and each carried a crew of 18 and I was just one of those adventurous people.
- I explored Canada for two and a half months. First crossing from the east to the west coast by train from Toronto to Vancouver (4 days and some 4,500KM) and then back again by Greyhound bus.
- The most creative and artistic place I have ever been to is Bali in Indonesia.
- I like to run half marathons and 10K’s. Although I’ve completed the London Marathon three times, I somehow don’t feel the inclination to do any more.
- One of my favourite self projects was creating a coffee table book on doors from around the world.
- I create story telling photo books from my travels.
- I create a family Christmas card every year. Every year it gets harder to come up with something more creative than the previous one.
- I get really excited about all kinds of creative stationery
- I’m passionate about typography and it’s use within layouts for books and magazines.
- I have a curated collection of some amazing modern children’s illustrated picture books thanks to my young son. I had no idea these existed until I started buying them for him. From a select few, not only are the stories great but the typography, illustration, colour, layout and paper stock is a designers dream. A couple of my favourites are by Oliver Jeffers and Russell Ayto.
- I have seen the Northern Lights (The aurora borealis) while in Canada from the back of a open top pick up truck. Travelling down the highway at great speed with straw from hay bails in the back blowing in our faces. Feeling rather merry while heading back from a wedding, the sight was awsome! I have also see the Southern Lights (The aurora australis) in the Southern Ocean while sailing from Buenos Aires to Wellington. With no light pollution, black skies and no land mass from horizon to horizon to interrupt our view. On deck in the middle of the night we witnessed a most spectacular light show.
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