As a professional Graphic Designer, what are you looking for from a photograph in terms of image quality?
I always appreciate a high standard of image quality when working with photographers. I like to be able to have trust in working with a photographer who knows their stuff when it comes to image quality. It makes for a great team when we can let each other be the experts in our respective fields.
I think it’s important to say that photography for graphic design tends to be very specific. Usually when we’re sourcing photography we have a client project in progress and a very defined need to fulfill, so some of the below tips might not be applicable if you’re creating more generic work.
Top 5 Image Qualities We Love at One Line Studio:
• Clarity of message: Graphic designers often use photography as an important support tool as part of a bigger graphic, such as in a magazine layout or on a web page. Our expertise is visual communication and what we’re usually working to communicate is a brand story or a key marketing message. We need the photography to also communicate this message. Without being cliché the image shouldn’t be confusing for the viewer. If the messages across the board for a brand’s visual communication aren’t consistent then it dilutes the overall concept. Ways to ensure this are to read the brief and work with the designer to create a mood board and prepare for the day of the shoot together so you’re both on the same page.
• Lose the effects: It’s much more productive for designers to be able to work with base materials and add effects if the project strategy dictates. I have a bit of a personal gripe with things being out of focus. I know it’s probably a bit trendy and dramatic but generally what I’m looking for is images that tell a story and 9 times out of 10 every element within that frame is part of that story so let’s see what’s going on in the image. For example if you’re working on images for business owners and there’s that over the shoulder shot of them working at the desk, what you’re seeing on their screen is just as important as the hands that are crafting it, so don’t blur bits out. Having said that there isn’t anything about design that can be a one size fits all, so if the message dictates that a certain element should be more prominent and you can’t do this through perspective and composition there are times I’ve seen the out of focus effect used subtly and it’s worked well.
• Keep it clean: I’ve talked about clarity in the message, it’s also important the images are crisp and sharp. I’d always leave it up to the expertise of the photographer to know how to do that. Using light correctly to reduce any noise that might make the image look grainy is important and ensures the image looks professional. Other things we mean when we use designer talk ‘clean’ is having an understanding of composition as well as how shadows might be cast in order to ensure the images don’t look awkward. Generally, these are basics we can trust a professional photographer to run with.
• Space to play with: This one has become more of an issue with the development of responsive web design. Whilst a photographer may create a beautiful composition, chances are once it’s put on a web banner a lot of that might be cropped off. If you’re working on a specific brief with a designer that’s fine as you can ask for the aspect ratio and compose accordingly. More generally though for stock images I’d advise you to leave plenty of space to play with. This could be that you use negative space so that text can be overlaid. You might leave plenty of space around the focal point so the image can be cropped into a square and still have the composition you were aiming for. Or consider how the zoom of responsive web design will impact your image if it’s used in a web header banner and keep it simple and adaptable.