As a photographer and graphic designer, photography is integral to my work. I know first hand how crucial it is to create an effective relationship between a photo and the design layout you choose to accompany it. Here’s what I’ve learned on how to best mix and merge all three elements.
Selecting an image for design
Designers (and photographers) can be given images that are underexposed, lacking precise focus, etc. Other times the issue lies in the composition of the photograph. Whatever the case may be, we must learn to deal with what we are given. As they say, there is certainly “more than one way to skin a cat” when it comes to making up for subpar photography.
Analyzing the photograph
Things to look at:
– Composition, color, focus, implied lines (angles) and shapes within the photograph, negative space, texture, how it leads the viewer’s eye, etc.
– As a designer, you are a problem solver. Given your findings, what can you do to enhance the photograph and the relationship it will have with your design?
– Try adding various tones/values to your image.
– Adding a color duotone, half tone, or split tone to photographs can many times be just the solution to your problem.
– Try adding a color overlay to your image
– If appropriate, add a blur (Gaussian and motion are both popular blur filters)
– Add more contrast
– Can be achieved through color adjustments, adding a vignette, burning and dodging, etc.
– Apply Layer styles to images (layer styles can make a huge difference in the impact of an image/design)
One challenge that designers often face is finding just the right image for the job. It’s not uncommon to be expected to navigate through hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of images at a time. This process can be extremely difficult and time intensive. Despite the significance of this step in the process, it is important not to over-think when selecting photographs. Often times are initial instincts, and the images that catch our eye first are the strongest.
Photoshop is your best friend.
Photoshop is an awesome tool for designers. It gives you incredible control over images and can lead to some really awesome results. However, don’t feel that you’re limited to Photoshop, there are plenty of programs out there. Regardless of what program you choose, become VERY well acquainted with it. It is incredibly useful to be familiar with such programs, and can make the life of a designer a whole lot easier.
Lightroom is another Adobe program that is an incredibly useful tool for both designers and photographers alike. Lightroom is perfect for initial edits to an image (adjusting exposure, color/white balance, and detail within an image.