Photography in Design: Tips to Make the Most of Your Photos

Photography in Design: Tips to Make the Most of Your Photos

by   Samantha McNulty  |  November 19, 2018  |  0

Photography is a crucial part of designing a layout or banner. When thinking about an image to place with text, whether it be overlaying on the image or underneath, above, or to the sides of an image, we have to think about two key factors: does the image make sense and does it have a conversation with the layout? Elements such as the dynamic imagery of people interacting, strong lines, action, or diversity are all ways that design and imagery can speak to each other.

Group of three people on cliff with text overlaid: "Adventure is waiting for you, don't make it wait too long"(Image altered | Unsplash | Jonas Wurster)

Using these elements helps to create a story for the viewer to interact with and have a more emotional and personal experience on a larger scale. To have a viewer relate to your content is achieving a goal; to give them an emotional experience is gold-medal status.

Another important factor in the design of a page with photography is having the image talk to the content so that the viewer’s eye moves around the page in a pleasing manner. Strategically placing images on either side of the screen will help the viewer have resting time between content, which creates more of a storyline for the page. The images also help the user stay engaged with the page.

(Images used in this layout via Unsplash | Seth Reese & Austin Neill)

So what goes into good photo placement? Every time a designer has to pick images for a layout or an advertisement, they need to think about a few key factors:


Make sure that the main element of the image—such as the people or subject matter—is placed to the right or left and will be positioned in the direction of the content (if applicable) in an advertisement or banner. If it’s in a layout, making sure to have the image point in the direction of the content that you want the viewer to focus on first.

Colorful landscape with parachuter(Unsplash | Leio Mclaren)

Image Content

Make sure the subjects in the image are dynamic as well as inclusive. This should tell a story to help the user understand what the content will say, like the synopsis of a paragraph.

Swimmer in open water(Unsplash | Spencer Watson)


If this image is for an advertisement, it’s easier for users to read smaller text if it’s dark text on a light background. Studies have shown that a dark background with the text knocked out makes for a more eye-grabbing advertisement. It’s also important to make sure the section where the text sits not too busy.

Hiker on dark landscape during sunset(Unsplash | Lucas Favre)

Keeping these elements in mind while looking for images to add to a layout or advertisement will help your user have a better user experience and maybe even have an emotional connection to your content. Happy hunting!

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