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How Can Photography Improve My Graphic Design


Did you know that the first selfie ever clicked was taken nearly 175 years ago? A chemist named Robert Cornelius snapped a portrait of himself in Philadelphia in 1839 by setting up the back part of his camera in his family store.


Today, according to research, the average person can take over 400 selfies a year, with accessible access and ease of use of our smartphones and cameras. And with the advent of social media, chances are, many of these images will be used for their latest posts on either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, with a hashtag.


Photography not only can capture a moment, a special moment in time for us, but can tell a particular story or emotional impact about that moment that can last long after the image was taken.

Photography is key to Graphic Design. True – you could use royalty-free, or commercial free images from these stock photography sites – but learning how to take your own quality images is much more valuable, not only for yourself, but for whatever project you’re using them for.


At first, when I first dived into photography and learned some of the basic technical skills that came with it, such as Aperture, Shutter speed and Depth of Field, it took me a long time to figure why learning Photography is ever included in my Graphic Design Curriculum. Though designers can just as easily hire a photographer for their projects, or rely on licensed images, having the ability to shoot the perfect image for your project makes this skill all the more valuable for you as a designer. Here are some reasons.



Developing a Better Eye for Composition

I understood a few things about choosing the right image in graphic design before now, such as having the proper balance, or using images that would fit a particular color scheme that I was looking for.


Photography has helped me to develop a better eye in my images. For starters, using a principle like the “rule of thirds” has allowed me to bring better balance to my images. I could also apply such techniques like hierarchy or even proximity, or leading line to fit the direction of the message that I’m going for once I apply the text or other elements to the image. Photography isn’t all about just shooting and grabbing a random image to use in my design project but to compose an image in such a way that would help communicate a particular message or theme to the viewer.


The importance of Color Theory

I am beginning to understand that there’s a lot of thought that can go into a particular color palette when it comes to things such as branding, your logo, your ad, and the particular project. Just picking a random subject, without taking color theory into consideration isn’t good enough. Certain colors have certain temperatures and can help to reinforce the underlying message. Blue is cool and recedes, red is bold, warm and tends to stand out, while yellow is sunny and vibrant and green is more earthly.

Complementary colors can be used in a way, with contrast and balance, perhaps for contrasting ideas, or elements, while analogous tones could be used for a particular theme as well. You can also consider keeping is simple by using black and white for both contrast and negative space to illustrate a point.



Photography skills can also be very helpful when you’re having a hard time either getting started, finding that right stock image to work with, or you’ve just run into a creative block – similar to writer’s block. As a photographer, just getting out as shooting whenever you’re stuck has always been a great method to spark creativity in me, as not only does it take my mind off things, but opens up to new ideas. Even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk outside and shooting a few landscapes or random shots, this change of scenery may help spark some new ideas and inspiration.



The Ability to Communicate

I mentioned earlier that in Graphic Design, you need the ability to be able to get your message across, evoke a particular feeling, and tell a story to your audience. As the saying goes, that a picture is worth a thousand words – Photography, even the best photography, should be the best form of visual storytelling. Add in some of the valuable elements of principles of design that I mentioned to your image, and if done properly, your image can come across in a thought provoking way that is clear to the viewer.


My Final Thoughts

Even after I took my last class and began to take those first initial steps into the world of Graphic Design, I’m discovering that there are designers who do not necessarily utilize photography as a part of their repertoire and skill set. They still take the route of stock images or hiring a photographer for their projects.


Perhaps they haven’t really polished their photography skills. I know I’ve personally been keeping them up ever since taking my first photography class. I’ve not only invested so much time and energy in not only purchasing my first dslr camera, and learning a new hobby, but in adding another skillset. Why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of this, if it could help me to become a better artist and designer?


Could it be that they made the valuable connection between photography and graphic design and don’t see the added value of it? For me personally, I’m always looking for an edge and a way to get better as an artist and a designer. I feel like just learning the basic skills of photography has given me an added advantage with knowledge that I can apply as an artist and designer – but my biggest takeaway from it is how it has expanded the possibilities on my level of creativity, even allowing me to think further outside the box.


I like to know your thoughts on this perspective. Please feel free to comment below.









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