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Panpa Bulletin : Oct-Nov-December 2007
PANPA Bulletin October-November-December 2007 33 Photos speak to us. Some because they capture the beauty of nature. Some because they show the brutal ugli- ness of hate. Some because they portray the endur- ing love between a six-year-old and her grandfather. ...And some tell us where they should go on the page we're designing. All we have to do is look at the photo and it will speak to us in no uncertain terms, commanding us to place it in a corner, at an edge, at the bottom---wherever. Especially on open fronts or feature pag- es, we can take advantage of the opportuni- ty to give the photo the placement it needs. There's more space and less "furniture" on the page so we can have a freer hand. Here are some of the words the photo uses to talk to you: SHAPE: If the photo is rectangular, you have a greater number of options for place- ment. But what if the photo is circular? Or semicircular? What if it's a strong hori- zontal? A strong vertical? Odd or dynamic shapes will often do more than speak--- they'll begin to yell. EDGE: What if the photo has a side of the subject cut off? If we've got a photo of a per- son and the right side of the person is out of the frame, the photo will almost always tell us it wants to be along a left edge. HORIZON: If the bottom of your photo is a mountain range with a sunset and a vast sky, it makes sense to place the photo toward the bottom of the page. ACTION: Often sports photos will have action in them that is strongly directional--- a base runner dashing toward the right, for example. In such photos, try cropping the photo to give the runner some space to run toward---and then place the photo more toward left of centre on the page. STARE: If the person in the photo is look- ing to the left of the page, it works better to move the photo right of centre. Give it a chance and a photo will speak for itself Some simple advice makes the perfect placement easy and the user-friendly photo page a breeze, writes Ed Henninger. design matters Going from a ganged caption to each photo and back creates a "route map" of round trips much like those of a major airline Knowing where to place the lead photo here was a no-brainer It may be the best photo page you've ever designed---and you've done more than a few in your time. The photos are prize winners. The struc- ture is sound. The spacing helps to set off each of the photos while maintaining the integrity of the group. They're tightly edited and properly sized. The frames are carefully selected. And yet the page fails. Readers have trouble making sense of it. They just don't have the patience to figure out the design. In your efforts to create a stunning page, you've made your readers work too hard--- by creating a "ganged" caption. Instead of placing a separate caption below each photo, you assembled one caption that refers readers to each photo. By doing so, you're forcing your readers to begin "...at left..." and go to the photo (hoping to make sense of the caption) then return to the caption (hoping to make sense of the photo) then go to the next photo (hoping to make sense of the caption) then back to the caption. And so on. Of course, each time your readers go from caption to photo, their odds of finding the correct photo are even, at best. And every time they return to the caption, they have to swim around for a second or two to find where they left off. Put together more than a half-dozen photos on a typical photo page and the ganged caption becomes a reader nightmare. What's the best way to fix the ganged caption? Kill it. Use the caption space to write a copy block that tells the story behind the photos. And then go back to rework the page, placing a caption below every photo. Can you still create a stunning page? Absolutely. And underlying all of its visual power will be a page that is much improved---because it places the reader first. CONNECT Ed Henninger is an independent newspaper consultant and the Director of Henninger Consulting. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.henningerconsulting.com. Captions: Break up the gang
August September 2007