Wick Communications

Better photo page design

In Photography on 10 Feb 2011 at 1:12 pm

Many of you know of Ed Henninger. He’s a well-known newspaper design guy and I just about nod myself into a headache every time I read his blog.

Ed writes a column for the Publishers’ Auxiliary. Recently, he tackled the dreaded photo page and he made some points that I think are worth repeating for our newspapers. Take it away, Ed:

“Too many photo pages are just an agglomeration of pictures. None has more impact than the others. None is more attractive. None is more effective. In short, all of the photos are relatively the same size, have relatively the same impact, elicit relatively the same response – and all are relatively dull. It’s not because of their content. Or their composition. Rather, it’s because of the display they are given. More great photos are lost on photo pages because of weak display than for any other reason.”

Amen. Every day I see photo pages that are essentially a rectangle made of smaller rectangles. It’s clear the main objective is to slap as many photos as possible on the page. They are often the same size. There is rarely any accompanying explanation beyond perhaps a single cutline…

There are worse crimes in journalism. The compulsion to be complete, to run everything, isn’t fatal. Ed and I just think you can do better.

  • Make something dominant. Look at the photo at the top of this post. It’s Mark Edelsen’s work from the Palm Beach Post. It took first place in a photo editing category within the National Press Photographers Association awards in 2007. Look at many great examples on Henninger’s blog. They all have one dominant element that is complemented by other images.
  • Provide some perspective. I think photo pages work best when they are accompanied by type – and not just any type but a well-written, brief explanation of what we’re admiring.
  • White space is your friend. Particularly when it’s at the edges. I lack the facility of language to explain why, but there is something more elegant, more professional about a photo page that acknowledges the value of negative space.

Try something different with your next photo page. Look at some good examples. Copy what you see. It will give you the confidence to try something different next time.



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