In the critiques that I do during my courses, I comment on the graphic design of photos all the time. I feel that the two most important aspects of a picture are lighting and graphic design (composition is, in essence, the graphic layout of all the components that make up a picture), and that when you put together these two ingredients in a photograph it will be a superb work of art. One of my students asked recently what, exactly, is graphic design.
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So What IS Graphic Design, Anyway?
Rather than use words to answer this, I wanted to clarify the concept by showing examples and make it easy for everyone to understand what I mean.
The truth is that it's not difficult to show good examples of graphic design in photographs. I can present to you countless beautiful images with perfect compositions and with subjects that have striking or compelling shapes. The hard part is to go out in the woods, or the desert, or a city and find graphic designs that are great. The world is, after all, a compositional mess. There are rocks, mountains, buildings, dirt, bushes, branches, and man-made objects all over the place. It's our job as photographers to make sense of it, to find in all the visual chaos a design that is artistic and pleasing.
This will be the first part in a five-part series. The first four parts will be examples of what I consider excellent graphic designs. In Part One, I will show nature. In subsequent parts, I will show compelling graphic designs in wildlife, cities and architecture, and people. The last part will be examples of graphic designs that, in my opinion, fail for one reason or another. In this way, you can compare the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak, and hopefully this will give you a sense of what to look for as you shoot.
The following five pictures have strong graphic designs. The shapes of the components are beautiful, and they have a compelling artistic composition.
Editor's Note: Check out Jim Zuckerman's awesome online photography courses at BetterPhoto.com, including:
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Jim Zuckerman
Few people are able to spend most of their time pursuing their passion in life. I'm one of them, and I feel blessed to have had a love affair with photography since I began taking pictures.
In 1970, I decided to abort my intended career as a doctor in favor of photography and have never regretted it. Photography has enriched my life more than I can tell you. My career has taken me to over 60 countries, and I've seen and photographed wondrous things.
I specialize in wildlife and nature, international travel, and digital effects. In addition, I also shoot nudes, photo- and electron microscopy, children, and other subjects that stimulate my visual or emotional sensibilities.
For 25 years, I shot a medium format camera, specifically the Mamiya RZ 67, for its superior quality. When I would lecture, I’d project the large, glass mounted transparencies, and it was really an incredible experience to see the brilliant color saturation and resolution of these slides. However, I went digital in 2004 because the technology finally equaled or surpassed medium format. I now shoot the Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera with a variety of lenses.
I am the author of 12 books on photography. My work is sold in 30 countries around the world, and my images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, calendars, posters, national ads, trade ads, brochures, and corporate promotions.
For many years I've led photography tours to exotic places. These include Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Burma, Greece, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain, Morocco, and Peru.