5 Concepts Designers Can Learn from Photography

By introducing yourself to principals and concepts from other industries, you can find inspiration and guidance around every corner. Many creative professions can learn from others, but photography and design are two disciplines that complement one another particularly well. Photography has a unique ability to create visuals that appeal, inspire, and create emotional impact. The fundamentals behind great photography can also play a role in creating memorable and effective design.

1. Follow the Rule of Thirds

Imagine there’s a grid dividing your digital canvas into thirds vertically – how does your design breakdown? Our eyes tend to enjoy images that are organized into thirds with heavier weight in the right or left third. Having an image off to the side instead of centered is more interesting to look at and leads your audience into the image.

2. Maintaining Mindfulness

Photographers are constantly scanning the world around them. They consider lighting, composition, and subjects as they move about their day — with or without their camera in hand.  Try this for yourself. Pay attention to how you could create works of art with the visual elements around you. Take notes, sketch, or click snapshots on your phone to frame the image. Everywhere you go, you’ll find architecture, park design, and landscapes that were created with intention – try and imagine what the designer was thinking.

When you look at websites for your own personal use, notice the layout, photography, typography, and transitions. Be more mindful about the design that has crept into all aspects of life.

3. Understand the Power of Angles

Angles are a powerful tool in both photography and design. Our eyes prefer horizontal lines, so they seem the most balanced and carry the least amount of visual weight. Vertical lines and subjects can be stark in comparison and demand more attention. Diagonal lines are the most dramatic and command the movement of the viewer’s eyes across a composition. Keep these in mind when laying out your design. Pull the viewer’s gaze with diagonal angles.

4. Lead Your Viewers Eyes

Angles aren’t the only principle photographers use to lead a viewer’s eyes across a composition – other elements include objects like paths, bridges, light, and implied movement. Subjects like roads inherently suggest a journey and will move your viewer’s eyes across the composition. Lighting can be used to expose part of the image. Instinct causes the viewer to look towards what the light is revealing. Below is an image that causes us to look right because the path leads toward the sun. Both the path and the sun capture our eye.

5. Using Balance Carefully in Your Designs

Balance is a photography principle that designers can use to add drama and emotion to designs. Symmetrical design can be better when you want to convey a more stable, authoritative, clean, or professional presence. Asymmetrical designs can be commanding, innovative, energetic, and inspiring.

Pragmatic Marketing Certified Product Manager, experience in managing business to business and consumer products. Product Manager of CorelDRAW a complete suite of creative tools for graphics artists since 1989. I enjoy surfing, travelling and reading fiction novels in that order.