A Little Lesson On Typography

As a designer I’d say improper use of typography is my number one pet peeve.  There are so many bad typefaces out there, so little knowledge of kerning, leading, and combinations of typefaces, it really can overwhelm designers.  Conversely, the anatomy of type is quite complex, and can overwhelm non-designers.  So, here’s a little lesson on serifs and san serifs, good typefaces, and typefaces to avoid. First, here’s a great diagram explaining the anatomy of type, and the link provides a great resource if you’re interested in learning more about the anatomy of type.  Although I'm only going over serifs, san serifs, some of my favorite typefaces, and typefaces to avoid, this can help you understand the complexities of typography.


What is a serif?

A serif /ˈsɛrɪf/ is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol,[1] such as when handwriting is separated into distinct units for a typewriter or typsetter.

What is a sans serif?

san serif also known as a sans-serif, sans serif, gothic, san serif or simply sans typeface is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes

Both serifs and san serifs have their place, and often look great together, but there are so many variations out there and most people end up using Times New Roman (if you’re not writing a paper, please avoid) and Helvetica/Arial (Arial is the Microsoft rip off of Helvetica, and don’t get me wrong- Helvetica is a wonderful typeface, but at this stage in the game, there are many amazing san serif fonts that can replace it).  Although these are safe choices (if you truly don’t care about type and want a clean look then go for them) there are so many more beautiful choices out there which can help you achieve a look even better than you imagined.

Good Typefaces

Now that you have an idea what serif and san serif fonts are, let’s learn about some amazing typefaces in both the serif and san serif categories.  The following are some examples of typefaces you can use in lieu of your typical fonts.  A great resource for free amazing fonts is Google fonts.  These are most often used on websites to keep consistency among webpages on various browsers, but they can also be downloaded and used on print pieces as well as online or on your computer.  They also have a very handy feature where you can type in your copy and it will show you what it will look like among all the fonts and in word, sentence, paragraph, and poster form.

My favorite San Serif Google Fonts:

  • Open SansThis font is often used on websites to achieve a clean look without using the standard san serif code, but you can also use it on anything.
  • Julius Sans One
  • Dorsa 

My Favorite Serif Google Fonts:

My Favorite Fonts (not found on Google):  Some of these have to be purchased.

  • Gotham: My absolute favorite font of all time!

  • Novecento: This is only in all caps, but I love this font for headlines!   


  • Didot: This is one of the best serif fonts out there, and I highly recommend using it.


  • Baskerville: This is also one of the best serif fonts out there, it also gets my stamp of approval!


Typefaces Designers Can't Stand:

There are many different typefaces out there that make me cringe, but these are my top least favorite typefaces of all time!

  • Comic Sans: Never use this for anything.  It's not cute, and it makes designer's go blind.  Please spare us, we need our eyes!
  • Bleeding Cowboy: Although this might have worked for the project this typeface designer created it for, that's pretty much the only thing it should have ever been used on.  When I see it, I see red.
  • Papyrus: For some reason people think this font works for beauty products, natural products, Greek restaurants, Middle Eastern products/restaurants, Italian restaurants, yoga businesses, you get the idea.  It's one of the most over used decorative fonts ever.  Every time I see it I cringe at the thought of someone coping out and once again using this font.  So please, don't use Papyrus!

There are many amazing typefaces out there, and these are just some of my person favorites.  Conversely, there are many awful typefaces out there.  I didn't cover fonts that come on your computer because at this point I have over 900 fonts and no idea if I purchased them, got them online, or if they came with my Mac, but I hope this little lesson helps you in picking your next font for whatever you may need it for!

Sarah McMahon www.modernsoutherner.com


Product photography is something necessary in my world.  I own an eco-friendly vintage/retro shop, ELEVEN26, and I literally wear all the hats- including product photographer.  As a designer, I taught myself photography because it’s sort of a requirement, as are many skills you’re not often taught as a designer, but for me product photography became a mission.  So, here are few tips I’ve learned along the way, and I hope they’ll help anyone needing/wanting to dive into product photography.

Natural Light

I love natural light.  If I had my preference it’d be natural light all the way.  Unfortunately, we live in a world of many lights, and sometimes the natural light doesn’t work well.  When there’s a perfectly sunny day, and all the elements come together correctly, I’d much prefer natural light when shooting any type of product.  For those times when the clouds impede the use of natural light, I do have some great recommendations that help me along the way.

Table Top Photo Box

This is a lifesaver for those smaller objects that need a crisp background and some height.  I often use my TTPB when shooting jewelry, kitchen items, and other various smalls.  Instead of having to bring out the big guns (backdrops), I just easily set up my TTPB and I’m ready to go.  I love the ease of this box, and that it just folds up simply into a neat little portfolio.  It also comes with various backdrops (white, black, blue, and red) which for editing are amazing.  I often usually only use the white backdrop, but the others have come in handy for editing.



Light Ring

I ♥ my light ring.  Do you hear me world!?  I LOVE MY LIGHT RING!  OK, that might be a bit dramatic, but I really do find my light ring to be very helpful.  It’s especially helpful when I’m doing some sort of unconventional shoot where I need a lot of light focused on a particular item.  It helps deliver a nice amount of light (and you can adjust the amount of light, the direction of light, etc) directly to an item.  I often use this when I’m doing a staged shoot where the lighting might not be ideal.  Basically with this you just have to make the call on whether it will deliver good light or not for a specific shoot.  Give it a try, experiment, and be ready to fall (sometimes) in love with the light ring!


Photography Umbrella

Another lifesaver for me is the umbrella.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to using an umbrella.  They can help soften and diffuse the light when nothing else seems to work.  I often use my umbrella attached to my light stand, but sometimes I play around with direction (and even holding the umbrella in just the right area).  I can’t imagine not having this bad boy on my side, so I would suggest adding it to your photography arsenal.


Well, I hope this helps all the budding product photographers out there, and gives you some basic direction on what items will help you in your pursuit of product photography.  These items are all great staples for any photography, but I just know for product photography they’ve all save my booty on more than one occassion.  Photography is about playing with the elements, adjusting and fine tuning those elements, and getting the best outcome you desire.


Sarah McMahon Modern Southerner

Hello, I'm Sarah McMahon {Guest blogger from Modern Southerner}

Hello everyone!  My name is Sarah McMahon and I run Modern Southerner.  I’m a freelance graphic designer who is currently submersed in the world of web development.  I also own an online vintage/retro store ELEVEN26, and recently I started a booth in a local vintage/retro store in my current town of Knoxville, TN.  I’m going to be guest posting for BlueHaus every 3rd Monday of the month, and I’m so excited to bring interesting content your way!  I’m planning on delivering posts on freelancing, graphic design, the proper use of typography, my product photography methods, and I’ll probably incorporate some web development tips! As I’m sure you know, Ashley lives in Colorado, and I have some roots originating from there.  My maternal grandmother was born and raised in Loveland, CO.  My mom even lived out there for a year when she was 9.  In addition to that, I was born in Teaneck, NJ, but I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Most of my family still lives in NJ.  I like to say I’m a New Jersey born, Mississippi raised hybrid because they are two totally different worlds (and I have a neutral accent, I'm always being asked where I'm from).  Now I’m somewhere in the middle in Knoxville, TN.

Before moving to Knoxville I lived in Hattiesburg, MS where I attended The University of Southern Mississippi.  While there I changed majors a lot, took way too many classes, and finally settled on a degree in Graphic Design.  It’s a few years later, and I’m so thankful I picked that major.  I love everything design, and it's been a great foundation for web development!  After graduating I worked as a designer for USM, but ultimately I wanted to strike out on my own.  Then an opportunity to move to Knoxville came up, and here I am!  I really like Knoxville, it’s a hip, health-conscious, active, fun little city that’s on the verge of some explosive growth.

That's me!

This is Sebastian, he's my sweet Maine Coon.

This is Clementine, she's my fun puppy.

I love the mountains and I'm in them every chance I get!

Well, that’s a little bit about me, and I can’t wait to start blogging for you!

Sarah McMahon

http://www.modernsoutherner.com http://www.sarahamcmahon.com http://www.eleven-26.com

Why You Should Use A Professional Photographer! {Guest Post by Wahlman Photography}

“Do I really need to pay that much money for photographer? My bride-maid’s best friend has a camera, I think, and she could probably do it for really cheap. That way I can save money on the wedding.” If you’re a bride currently going through wedding planning, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had similar thoughts. You know someone who has what seems to be a nice camera, so why not ask them to do your wedding photos? Well, I’m here to tell you why you need a seasoned, professional photographer. In our current day, weddings have gotten very expensive. Not that they weren’t expensive 60 years ago, but the standards of planning and costs has gone up. That being said, every bride and groom today would love to save a penny here and save a penny there. Photography seems to be one of those areas in wedding planning that brides and grooms tend to think they can bypass on the professional, ‘expensive’ photographer and save some money by using someone that they know. This just simply doesn’t seems like the best place to save money in and here are some reason

{Longevity}  Flowers will fade in about a week, some may even be thrown away immediately after the wedding. The cake will be devoured by every ravenous guest, and left overs will soon enough be eaten or thrown out. Decorations look pretty, but also won’t last past the day. Catering is nice, but guests will actually live if they go 5 hours on only some small appetizers. Your lovely photographs will be thrown away... oh wait, you’ll be keeping those for a long time! Hopefully, you actually plan on keeping your photos a little longer than a week. If that is the case, then why wouldn’t you want them to be great, quality, professional images? So if there is any area to save money on, I wouldn’t think photography would be one of them. I would think that you’re going to want the best you can get, so that you can actually enjoy them for the rest of your life. Your wedding is a very precious memory that you won’t to forget.

{Knowledge} If you think that a knowledge of the camera is the only thing separating a professional from your friend, think again. As professional photographers, we have a much more intensive and broad knowledge than that. And even then, in almost every scenario, we’ll have a better knowledge of our gear and how to use it than your friend. However, there is more to photography than pressing the shutter button. Maybe you didn’t know this, but there is an art to proper posing. How about photographer behavior at a wedding; how to stay out of people’s way, be invisible, not distract from the ceremony, etc.? How about post-editing; don’t you want someone who will make your photos actually look finalized, not just straight from the camera. How about printing? Can your friend print from thousand dollar printers or have the photos printed at a professional printer? And that’s just the start of a long list that us photographers include in our services. 98% of the time, your friend is not going to be able to do or know everything that a professional photographer can offer you.

{Legality} Professional photographers have a legal aspect to them that your friend doesn’t have. We have documents as businesses, contracts, etc. that bind us legally to doing a quality job. If you don’t like the images your friend took, what are you going to do about it? You can’t have them do a reshoot and you can’t get money back, especially if you didn’t pay them anything. Just don’t go there; use a legally recognized photographer.

{Commerce}  Lastly, there is something to be said about the economics of using a professional photographer. Your friend, even if they do a decent job, may never shoot another wedding in their life. As professionals, this our career and our trade. Why not give that money to a person who is actually in the trade and can use it to continue in that area and benefit all the other weddings that follow. It’s a general sense of how commerce works. It’s almost the same concept as when people illegally download music; that’s a major reason why so many recording companies have gone under. Don’t be the cause for making professional services struggle to stay above water.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please share it with those you know.

David WahlmanWahlman Photography www.wahlmanphotography.com