Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Exercise: make a page layout

Take between five and ten images from your archive on a single subject or theme them turn them into a picture story by doing the following:

  • Using layouts that you've admired as a starting point, design your own pages to meet the needs of your selected photographs. Design and make at least four different layouts.
  • Write a heading and some short introductory text to explain what the story is about.
  • Write a caption for each image.
Choose the fonts carefully and explain the reasons for each choice of font. 

This task is much more complicated than it first appears. There is a variety of skills from the previous exercises and all of them need to be pulled together to have any success. One of the initial difficulties is with the suggestion to use images from my own archive to make the picture story. It is difficult to place images together like this when they have not been shot with that intention in mind. Because of this the story is less personal and more commercial in aspect from the kind of work I would normally provide. The exercise has taken me much longer to complete than I initially realised it would - but, the task's been designed as a dry run for the next assignment - which makes the learning invaluable.

I decided to use my recent trip to Lake Michigan to tell the story of the journey I made around the lake. This is my opening shot. The photo-story begins with a full bleed image with the title and text placed as an overlay. I think it has impact and works well as an opening image. With the title and caption to provide additional information it sets a tone for the rest of the sequence. To get around the problem of the images not being shot for use in a picture story I concocted an 'elements' theme to help group the images together. The caption text for the opening image alludes to this.

For this layout I introduced the means of travel by juxtaposing the image of the hire car with the junction and traffic lights. The car image is quite small but provides the necessary detail to help tell the story of 'the journey.' The main body text is also on this page. You will notice that the roof line of the house in the right hand image lines up horizontally with the column text and the car image lines up vertically with the right hand column. A lot of tweaking had to be done but it does help pull the layout together visually. The large image has a page to itself with a clean border. The text is a piece about travelling around the towns and rural areas of Lake Michigan and complements the image.

The previous layout introduced the 'Earth' element. On this page the images are organised around 'Water.' I have varied the layout by using three images and again tried to ensure that they line up in a visually pleasing way - note the horizons of the large image and right top connect visually creating an implied line. The bottom boat image has an implied diagonal with its neighbour. The large image crosses the centrefold to allow for the text in the left-hand column. The two smaller images both have two full bleed edges and a margin separating them from the larger image.

For 'Fire,' I chose complimentary colours that would work well together. I have used a three image layout but changed the positioning so that it is visually different to the previous set. By using only picture captions and no column text for this spread the pace of the sequence is changed.

For 'Wind,' I used three similar sized images in a horizontal format. They were all chosen to imply sky and wind and because of the similarity of colours. The implied diagonal from left to right works quite well. I used four columns of text to try and keep the layout's symmetry together.

I varied the layout here by only using two images for this spread. The larger image crosses the centre fold onto the opposite page. I have used this technique for a number of the previous spreads and, I think, for very bold images can work well. I have used some more text to finish the article off.

I tried to keep to a set 'style' for my layout fonts - using a small number of them applied consistently across the spreads:

  • Titles & headings - Verdana Bold. I chose Verdana because it is a Sans-Serif font and looks good when used at larger sizes.
  • Picture captions - Arial. Like all Sans-Serif fonts, it has a clean and simple style and the text is still legible and easy to read at very small sizes.
  • Column text - Georgia. A Serif font was used for the body text as large blocks of text are easier to read and flow much better.

Learning points:

The 'story' element in my spreads aren't as strong as I'd like for this exercise. By using titles and the column text I have pulled it all together I think - although the story is not clear without them. As I mentioned earlier though, these images where not taken to be used in this way.

I feel the effort put into this exercise has been well worth it. At various places in my other courses I have reached a point where I've felt a big shift forward in my learning. Completing this exercise has done the same thing at this particular stage of PWDP. Now I feel ready to repeat this task all over again for the next assignment and I've had a good to chance to practise the necessary skills.

Key points to remember for assignment 3:

  • make sure there is a story to tell!
  • shoot the same image in a number of ways (landscape, portrait, close-up, distant.) this will allow me to look at the juxtaposition and arrangement of images when designing the layout.
  • look for images that speak to each other and add extra or deeper meaning.
  • sometimes an inconsequential image (like the small car image on spread 2) can help to describe the story when placed with another picture.
  • use images that make a big impact for the dominant image on the spread (crossing the centrefold can help do this.)
  • look for implied lines between images when placing them on the layout. This brings a visual cohesiveness to the spread.
  • look for similar colour tones between images.
  • don't forget that placement of ALL text is important for the layout's final appearance. 

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