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Last updated on 12/12/19

Capture your Work

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Document your process

Don't let documenting your work become an afterthought. It's an important step and will become especially handy when you start applying for jobs. You not only want to capture the process and results of your research, but you want to be able to share the full story of your work. Fortunately, thanks to smartphones, documentation doesn't have to take any extra time or money. By simply snapping photos, you can develop a great habit, starting today!

Why not just use stock images to illustrate my written documentation?

It's true that stock images can be useful for communicating an idea visually and professionally. But as much as possible, try to use your own images for your portfolio, and even for presentations. The photographic quality may be more amateur, but your personal documentation will have a more human quality and will capture how your work really unfolded. 

Documenting your work has several benefits:

  • It allows you to show (rather than just tell) your process.

  • It makes case studies and your portfolio stronger (helping you stand out from competition).

  • It helps you communicate in a visual way (many clients and stakeholders will respond better to visual examples than to explanations an idea).

  • It gives you an opportunity to reflect on the journey of your work and see progress over time.

Tips for taking great photos:

  • Don't worry what camera you have (a smartphone works great!).

  • Avoid using a flash as much as possible (it's distracting); natural light is always preferred.

  • Capture context and setting  when appropriate.

  • Get close. Capture details. Photograph mundane things that may be important later (i.e. wireframes, sticky note brainstorms, affinity diagrams, etc.)

  • Take several shots from different angles – shoot both horizontal (great for presentations) and vertical photos.

  • Avoid overly creative angles (diagonal framing looks amateur) and make sure what you're documenting is in focus.

  • Avoid (or crop out) unnecessary clutter (i.e. water bottles!).

  • Always take more photos than you need! Don't make a big deal about taking pictures (hopefully people will be so engaged in what they're doing, they won't even notice that you're taking pictures – but will thank you later!).

Tips for organizing your photos:

  1. Name the images so you can find them again (I like to use  the fomula Year – Month – Project: 2017-01-OCresearch-1.jpg).

  2. Save your images in a project folder.

  3. Share images with participants (optional, but it can be a nice thank you in certain contexts).

Here's Elgin, the OpenClassrooms summer 2017 intern working through the UX of the app he's creating. All of these photos were captured on an iPhone while working on future projects for this path.

This photo captures Elgin working at OpenClassrooms. It could be considered a
This photo could be considered a "context" shot, but let's face it, it's not very interesting – unless we were trying to show the view out the window. 😉 We more of the chairs than Elgin, and the backlighting distracts us from what he's working on.
This photo has a tight crop and is much more effective at telling the story of what he's working on – wireframes for an app! He also had no idea this photo was being taken. (FYI, there are a few versions of this shot that were taken with slightly differ
This photo has a tight crop and is much more effective at telling the story of what he's working on – wireframes for an app! This would make a nice image on a portfolio site because there aren't too many distractions and the "good vibes only" sign make
Overhead shots are a nice way to tell a story and capture sketches or collaborative work. It's not intrusive – stand up and hold your arm over the table and chances are no one will notice. Take a few and chances are at least one will turn out. In a cas
Overhead shots are a nice way to tell a story and capture sketches or collaborative work. It's not intrusive – stand up and hold your arm over the table and chances are no one will notice. In a case study, you wouldn't need a long caption to explain wh

Take advantage of the projects in this path to start building a strong habit of documenting your work - and developing your photography skills!

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement