Wick Communications

6-column calamity

In Design on 19 Jul 2013 at 9:01 am

six columns

I’m a big believer in running photos big when warranted. You will never write a story that catches the eye as well as a surprising, telling, provocative photograph. You have to grab readers by the eyeballs before they will sit down and read what you’ve written.

That said, I think the two photos you see at the top of this post don’t work. One of them just doesn’t merit six-column, front-page display (the dragonflies), and the other is simply misplaced.

I actually like the double rainbow shot in The Colorado Springs Gazette. It’s amazing. Look at the way that it frames the town. It’s the kind of shot people would buy and blow up into a poster.

So what’s wrong with playing it like that?

Well, imagine a fold in the paper – right down the middle. Picture how it sat in the racks on July 10. See the problem? With this layout, all you see above the fold is six columns of blue sky. You have to buy the paper to see the rainbows and the city below. That isn’t going to sell any papers. …

If I were laying out the paper that day, I might have simply swapped the rainbow stand-alone and the “black wave story.” That way the photo would have sold papers and the headline (and head of the guy in the muddy car) would have all been above the fold.

The Yuma Sun, meanwhile, just went big when it wasn’t warranted, in my opinion. For one thing, I think the rope extending all the way across the page is visually distracting. It bisects the page. I don’t like it. The rainbow shot in the Gazette is one of the rare instances when a static feature shot sans people works on that scale.

Another thing to keep in mind is that photos on that scale carry weight. They are so overpowering, you expect them to accompany big news … a fire ravaging the town, a national championship, a new president. Dragonflies at rest are not a reason to throw out the design templates.

All of this is more than a little subjective, I realize. If you have a different viewpoint, I’d love to hear it.



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