« The Fog Index | Home | Shifting Responsibility, Part I »

Working with Headshots

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 12:47 AM

5 tips for using headshots to improve your layouts.

By Nikola Mileta

Headshots can be pretty dull to work with. But you can position them in many interesting ways to create dynamic layouts. I'd like to share my experience in how this is done.

Tip 1

Cropping. If you are using only one headshot, crop it in a dramatic way that will create some illusion, such as the illusion of distance, proximity, dynamics.

Cropping ideas.

Try cropping photos in various ways to give some character to the image.

You can also frame images, or place them in a colored or textured background. When doing this with several images, it is important to use the same background or frame. For example, don't put one headshot in a stamp-like frame and another in a picture-like frame.

Tip 2

Good and bad positioning of captions on headshots. When placing subjects' names or a photo caption, it is always better to put that info below the image.

Checklist for positioning captions.

If there is no place below, you can put it on the side or on the image itself. If you are placing captions on the image, be sure that the text is readable. Don't place the text above the images.

Tip 3

Grouping headshots. When you have several headshots, they can be grouped in various ways. You can place them in a row, giving each one equal importance. You can place them one above the other, or you can make them look more dynamic by playing with their position and size, thus creating some interesting interaction between them.

The most important headshot will be the biggest, the second most important will be smaller than the most important one, and so on until the least important one, which will be smallest.

Align the eyes!

When placing headshots in a line, you should scale them similarly and align them at eye level so they will be perceived as a group.

Avoid placing headshots catalog style, as in a yearbook.

Tip 4

Positioning headshots on a page. You can direct readers' attention to certain elements on the page with the position of the headshot, or you can point the reader in the right direction to continue reading the story.

If you are placing an image on the outer part of the left page, it should be flipped so that the person is looking toward the spine. Avoid placing the photo looking out of the magazine.

There may be times when you want to break that rule, however. One example would be placing the image on the outer part of the right-hand page with the subject looking outward. In this way you are telling the reader to continue with the story on the next page.

Photo placement can also create a sense of conversation between images.

Introducing visual conversation.

If you have two photos, for example, you can place them on opposing parts of the spread and create a sense of conversation between them by flipping one image so that they look at each other.

Tip 5

Dealing with a text-heavy story. When you have an article that is mostly text, headshots can come in handy.

A visual rhythm for text-heavy articles.

Place each photo in the same place on each page. In that way you will create a continuous rhythm to let the reader know that he or she is still in the same article.

If you are using multiple headshots on the page, you can place them one on top of the other in a single column. This will break up multicolumn text blocks and make the page easier for the reader to digest.

Nikola Mileta is an internationally noted magazine designer from Zagreb, Croatia, currently living in Beijing. He can be reached at info@magazinedesigning.com.

Add your comment.

« The Fog Index | Top | Shifting Responsibility, Part I »