Photography is a common hobby for many graphic designers. As a visual communicator, photography plays an essential role in branding and communication. To take the perfect photo, it is imperative to understand its purpose and intended uses.
Employers sometimes look for graphic designers with a photography background and vice versa. A person who is skilled in both design and photography is often able to produce superior and unique work, with a strong vision and exceptional execution.
As a professional graphic designer, I have seen how photography has benefited my design work, and in turn, how my design skills have advanced my photographic abilities.
My interest in photography began from a very early age. I remember spending hours upon hours looking through my grandmother’s photo albums repeatedly every time I visited her. I wanted to feel the essence of the past. I loved how every photo had a story behind it, truly worth 1000 words!
Being a highly creative person, I also had a great interest in design and art. While photography and art remained a constant hobby, I had ultimately decided to pursue my post-secondary education in the York Univerity/Sheridan College Specialized Honours Bachelors Program in Design.
After graduating and working professionally for publishing companies, private clubs and freelancing on the side, I began to grow a need for custom one-of-a-kind photos in my design work for my clients and in my career. I was tired of seeing the same stock photography being used everywhere. It seemed counterproductive to spend all that time searching for a perfect photo to complete your concept, when you can just take it yourself! The difference custom photography made in my work aesthetic was revolutionary and incomparable to any stock photo money can buy. That’s when I decided to branch out my digital design business to also offer photography services to all my design clients, as well as a stand-alone service. While I knew I risked diluting my brand, it only made sense to combine all favorite media under one roof, especially since I had a talent in both. Custom photography within design plays a huge role in the success of a project and how well it appeals to the audience. And ultimately, design skills within photography allow the imagination to run more freely, often producing more original and stylized work. When you marry exceptional custom photography and clever design, you create a union that has the power to captivate, because it is something that has never been seen before.
In this article, we will explore why designers make such great photographers and why you should consider working with photographers who are also skilled graphic designers and vice versa.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN ARE RELATED
Photography and design often go hand-in-hand. Composition, layout, lines, balance, rhythm and color are just some of the many principles that apply to both fields. Most post-secondary graphic design programs ensure to include photography skill development as part of the curriculum. Every graphic designer, whether they like it or not, needs to understand photography and be able to differentiate what makes a quality photo, how to take one, edit and use it in their work. Therefore, not only do graphic designers have the eye and knowledge of what it takes to get a good shot, they usually have underlying skills and experience that help ensure delivery of beautifully executed, on-point photos.
COMPOSITION & VISUAL BALANCE
Composition and balance are two of the most important elements involved in good quality, wow-factor photos. For graphic designers, layout and balance are life, which means they are able to quickly see and capture a top-notch composition. Photography and design often share the same visual and artistic rules. The rule of thirds applies as much to photography as graphic design. A design background helps to have a better eye for how composition impacts overall storytelling. Having the ability and knowledge to work with photographic compositions usually makes for better design skills, and likewise, design and web composition skills make for improvement in photography. Furthermore, designers often work with photographs in their layouts, and many truly know quickly what type of photos look best for specific purposes and across necessary media.
UNDERSTANDING OF COLOUR & COLOUR THEORY
Both design and photography rely on color theory. A good designer is very familiar with color theory and the impact of working with specific color schemes. Most professional graphic designers is also highly knowledgeable about image output. They understand what color profile to deliver for your specific uses to ensure image quality, color and vibrancy is never compromised, whether used for online purposes or one of the variety of printing methods available today.
SOFTWARE AND EDITING SKILLS
Professional graphic designers have learned how to use a variety of industry standard software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and many other applications that allow image editing, manipulation, layout and graphic creation. Graphic designers are also educated and proficient at printing, image quality control, and other technological issues related to the design, as well as the photography field. These skills and experience allow graphic designers better editing control when working with photos. Graphic designers skilled in photo editing can literally manipulate anything within a photo to achieve exactly what is required. A great deal of photographers still lack the software and design skills to be able to do complex editing, layouts or photo manipulation.
Designers are often individuals who have a hunger for creativity and creation as a means to express what they see and experience. Sometimes this takes them on unpredictable paths where they find themselves growing passions and mastering skills in other creative media related to the field. As Roberto Blake perfectly states in his article “5 Ways Photography Skills Can Improve Your Graphic Design” on creativepro.com, “Design and photography are very similar in what they require from creatives. Learning both of these doesn’t make one a “Jack/Jill of All Trades,” it simply is reinforcing your core skills as a creative professional. The more diverse your application of your creativity is, the stronger it becomes and the more freedom you will find in creating compelling images and stories.”
UNDERSTANDING OF CLIENT NEEDS & WANTS
Both, graphic designers and photographers, must able able to respectfully interact with clients and meet client needs to the best of their ability. Due to the nature of the work, professional graphic designers are often faced with the requirement to be exceptional communicators and planners. To achieve the concept and goal that their client wants there is often the need for a lot of back and forth communication, and most designers are well-trained to really listen to the client, ask the right questions to get to the core of the needs and requirements.
Photogtaphy is a big part of graphic design. While I am not claiming that every Graphic Designer is a great Photographer, I do believe that those who choose to pursue photography alongside their design career are certainly multi-talented individuals that deserve recognition and a chance to prove themselves.