Framing the photo
WITH THE POWERFUL design software we have at our fingertips these days, we have many more options for most design elements—even those we may consider minor parts of a page.
But with the capabilities that design software gives us, even those minor elements can be tweaked, tuned, twitched and twisted.
That’s not good.
Take, for example, a simple element like the frame on a photo.
For most of us who have been designing for some years, a photo frame has always been constructed from a .5-point rule, as in example a in the illustration. No big, deal: just place a .5-point frame on the photo to give it an edge and a bit of visual pop.
Some editors feel they really need a 1-point box (as in example b) to give their photos impact, and sometimes to help with press work. The 1 point is a bit clunky, but readers don’t seem to mind.
Also acceptable (I’m using this look in a redesign right now) is a thick-thin combination, to give a classier look to your photos. In example c, it’s 4 points wide, but it could be a bit thinner, depending on the quality of your reproduction.
One of my favorite approaches—especially for feature photos—is to use a soft shadow with no frame, as in example d. This provides a subtle, elegant look—provided the shadow itself isn’t too dark. In this example, it’s only 50 percent. And the offset is only 3 points, with a shadow size of 5 points.
I’m convinced that these four looks can work well for most newspapers.
But that powerful software will let you do, well…things you just shouldn’t do. I haven’t shown any, but here are some examples:
• Thick, colored frames.
• Frames made from repeated small objects, such as purple bunnies on on Easter photo package.
• Thick-thin frames of one color, with another color in the gap. Example, a red thick-thin combo with green in the gap for a Christmas photo.
• Frames made from wavy lines.
These usages (and countless others!) tend to call attention to the frame. But the purpose of a frame on a photo is to help call attention to the photo.
Let’s use a frame that works well…and keep the usage consistent.