Working to a Brief 9: The Cutting Saw

For our ninth ‘Working to a Brief’ assignment, Karl would like you to produce a shot of a saw cutting through wood.

Although the deadline for the submissions are now closed and we are no longer accepting entries,  you are welcome to still take part in it and tag us in your results! 

You’ll find all the details you need to complete the brief below, as well as in the accompanying live show. We highly recommend watching this show (live or as a replay) as it may feature additional useful information and advice! No further guidelines will be provided.

UPDATE: you can now check out Working to a Brief 9: Members' Gallery and Working to a Brief 9: REVIEW.


Working to a Brief — Assignment 9 LAUNCH

Thursday 5th May 2022 (15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT)
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Produce an ad-style image of a hand saw cutting through a length of square-planed timber against a neutral grey background.


The image is intended to promote the hand saw, drawing the viewer's attention to the fact that it is well-built, effective, durable, and comfortable to use.

Annotated brief sketch

© Visual Education

'Art Directors'' visual


  • Hand saw with colourful handle
  • Length of square-planed timber

Image layout

The sketch above illustrates the desired composition and layout for the image. The various elements should be arranged roughly as shown in the illustration.  However, the angles of the saw and timber can be adjusted as you see fit. The dimensions of the image should be roughly equivalent to the sketch but are at the photographer's discretion.


The mood of the image should be one of clean, sharp, timeless, high-quality craftsmanship.

The lighting should be more refined and stylised than you would find in a standard DIY stock image. The mood of the shot should elevate the product beyond its humble position as a basic tool.

The images below feature different products but give a good sense of the intended mood for this shot.


Mood 1


Mood 2


Mood 3


The image should be lit so that the saw is the 'hero' of the image, with particular emphasis on the handle and teeth. Gradient lighting on the blade should highlight the sheen of the metal finish. The gradient will ideally emphasise the part of the blade in contact with the timber.

Gradient lighting may also be used for the background, though the specific nature of the gradient is at the photographer's discretion.


The background should be a plain, neutral grey.


The image should depict the saw at the moment it completes its cut through the timber. The cut should be clean, with minimal splintering.

Sawdust should be falling from the cut, and the piece of timber on the left side of the image should appear to be falling to the floor. Motion blur (either captured in-camera or added in post) may prove helpful here.

The 'hero' of the shot is the saw, with the timber acting as 'supporting cast'. The saw's comfortable handle and sharp teeth should draw the viewer's attention.

Annotated brief sketch

© Visual Education

Brief summary

  • Hand saw with colourful handle
  • Length of square-planed timber
  • Neutral grey background
  • Gradient lighting on saw blade and background
  • Saw dust and left-hand piece of timber falling

    This brief is for example purposes only. This is not a professional commercial brief and all requirements are purely for educational purposes.

    Please note all images will remain copyright to the original photographer, but Visual Education reserves the right to publish them within its website and on social media.

    Submit Your Image

    The deadline for entry is 22nd June 2022. Karl will review all submissions in a follow-up live show on 29th June.

    To view the entry form login or non-members sign-up here to join Visual Education.

    © Visual Education. All rights reserved. No content on this page may be used or shared by third parties.

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    1. Hello Karl,

      Here is my picture. So far, this is the exercise that has given me the most difficulties. I had a lot of problems with the reflection of the timber on the saw blade.

      Possibly, if you could explain to us the technique to reduce the reflection as much as possible without using Photoshop.

      Thank you and have a good day,


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