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Photography and Visual Design

Updated on September 4, 2014
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CC0 1.0 | Source
CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

" Visual design is the way a piece of artwork, a room, yard, video game, photo or other artistic subject is composed and appeals to the human eye.Some basic visual design concepts include color, contrast, typography, composition, line, texture, space and shape. Color and use of white space often evoke a certain mood. Lines guide viewers through a composition. Visual design is not about what a piece is saying literally through words, but it is everything about what a piece is saying visually and emotionally--solely through appearance."

Visual design and photography is a way that you can approach your photography, especially certain subjects, with the aim of using the colors, the texture, the shapes, the composition itself, empty space and lines to convey an emotion or feeling to an audience.

It strongly relies on color (in some cases the lack of it) and other elements within the photographic composition to do this.

It also relies heavily when considering who the intended audience is and where the piece will be showcased.

If you remember your high school physics class you should them remember that certain colors are used to make someone feel something like reds for excitement, pink and greens for peacefulness and blue for sadness.

Retailers have been depending on these notions when they arrange items and in the way the certain colors are used in the stores.

Together with certain music that acts upon the brain the same way as the colors do, they hope to get a reaction from the customers.

Photographers can emulate the same thing by carefully choosing what colors and what elements in a scene are worth recording or even worth eliminating from it.

To put another way; a certain piece meant for older adults might rely more on the composition, the space and texture while a piece meant for children might rely heavily on using certain colors. It is all dependent on the consumer, or in this case the viewers.

Where you aware how visual design can play a role in how your images are perceived?

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A successful visual design piece does not necessarily take away from the content on the photograph. Instead, it enhances it by engaging users and helps viewers to build interest in the image.

The basics of a good visual design composition should include the following elements and although not every piece has to feature all of them, and although there are several more elements these are the most important ones.

Keep in mind that the more that are present in a photographic composition the better the concept works;

  1. Lines connect two points and can be used to help define shapes, and make divisions.
  2. Shapes are self contained areas. To define the area, the designer uses lines, differences in value, differences color, and texture.
  3. Color palette choices and combinations are used to differentiate items, create depth, add emphasis, and help visually organize the elements in the scene.
  4. Texture is a reference to how a surface in a photographic sense is perceived to feel.
  5. Form is used to show how objects are and is also used to describe the volume and the mass. You can simulate form by a combination of shapes and can be enhanced by different shades, textures, and colors.

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CC0 1.0 | Source

Some other things to consider is how you show unity; everything in the photograph should show that they belong together or are part of one another.

Hierarchy of elements; the most important elements in the photograph should occupy an important area or space and are generally perceived to be more important or relevant if they are featured in the upper portion of the image.

Balance is also importation; elements in the photograph should feel as if in balance with the rest. An image featuring large red squares on the left would not be balanced if on the right there are small white circles.

Contrast is just as important; try to use various degrees of colors or shades to separate one element from another.

Similarity is probably the most important element; things in the overall scene should be in one way or the other somehow similar to the rest of the elements.

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CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

Long but worth it!

Now all of this may seem confusing. If you know some basic photographic rules like the rule of thirds, leading lines and proper lighting, then you should also realize that visual designing is almost indistinguishable from these other rules.They go hand in hand.

Visual design hierarchy is almost the same as the rule of thirds. Balance is the same rule that applies to having balance in a photograph and white balance is very similar to the contrast.

Knowing one set of rules helps you understand and apply the concepts of the other as well as allowing you to use them in conjunction.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Try not to leave things to chance when applying the technique. Instead think about what you want to accomplish and carefully look over scenes until you feel satisfied that you can compose a well visually designed picture.

Think of the colors, the compositions and all the other elements that make a good visually designed piece and explore various angles and perspectives.

Often you will find that by looking at something from a different point of view it can be turned into a good visually attractive piece even if it seems to be a mundane common place item or regular scenery.

Taking the time to explore and look at all the possibilities if often what can make the difference between a so so shot and a spectacular one worthy of being mentioned and admired by others.

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ericdierker: thank you sir.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Another great hub, thank you. I just take this stuff for granted it is great to learn how you pros do it.


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