Photography in Advertising and Graphic Design

Photographer at home editing photos on laptop

Photography is everywhere in modern culture, whether framed on walls, posted on social media feeds or flashing across a television screen. However, producing and choosing good photography in graphic design and advertising takes time and expertise.

The Power of Photography

Photography is a powerful tool. It can show, convince, inspire and illuminate. Advertisers and graphic designers must know how to use the power of photography when creating campaigns and designs. Select images that portray the emotions you want to convey to your audience to strengthen your advertisements and designs.

Using Photography in Your Designs and Advertising

Photography in advertising and graphic design is important, but how do designers use photography? Is there a certain method that is more effective than others when creating and using photography? Explore these suggestions for creating effective and appropriate advertisements and designs:

Taking Good Photos

There are several tricks to taking great photos.

  • Know Your Audience: Before taking photos for your advertisements and designs, you should familiarize yourself with your audience. Learn the demographics and psychographics for the group you are targeting. For example, if you are creating an advertisement for a travel company designed to help older people explore the world, you must consider what imagery would appeal to this demographic.
  • Use Good Photography Techniques: Whether you are making a design for personal enjoyment or as marketing for a brand, using good photography techniques can elevate your work. Make sure to adjust the light source, focus, exposure and shutter speed settings as necessary.
  • Pay Attention to Placement: Placement is important in photography. Paying attention to the background and where your subject or product is placed within the frame can help make your photography look professional. For example, if you are taking photos for a clothing brand in a city, you’ll want to make sure that the viewer is focusing on the merchandise and not the background clutter.

Choosing Good Photos

As a designer or advertiser, you may not always be taking photos for your content yourself. Rather, a photographer may take them for your use or you may use online resources to find photos.

  • Style Consistency: Choose photos that are consistent with your work. If your company has a brand style guide, you can use it as a tool when choosing photos. For example, if you work for a children’s craft brand and you are tasked with creating a social media advertisement, you would ideally stay in alignment with the brand's style guide and marketing collateral, favoring brightly colored images.
  • Use Diverse Photos: Incorporating diversity in advertisements can make your designs more inclusive and reach a wider audience. This could mean choosing photos and models exhibiting racial diversity, different body types, disabilities, various ages, etc.
  • Make Sure You Have the Rights: In design, you cannot just use whatever images you come across online. Instead, if you hire a photographer or get images online, you must ensure that you have the rights to use those images. If you are struggling to find good photography that you can use, many free sites offer royalty-free photos.
  • Find Photos That Fit Your Medium: Your photos must fit your advertisements and your medium to convince the target audience as you intend. For example, imagine that you are making a magazine advertisement for a book publishing company and you want to add two images to your design that look like two pages of a book. You’ll need to consider the size and direction of the images you choose to make this design work.

Develop Your Skills

Developing photography skills and learning to use them aptly takes time and practice. Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design is one way to learn how to apply the concepts of design and photography to your field. Not only does this program offer courses on digital photography but also on how to apply concepts to advertising and how to design with photos.

Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production offers many different degree programs to help you develop your art, such as a BA in Advertising and Graphic Design, a BA in Social Media and a BA in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design. If you are interested in learning more about GCU’s degree programs, click on the Request Info button located at the top of the screen.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.