Dramatic photography can look fantastic on InDesign layouts; pick up the techniques you can use to make the most of your images.

Discover these simple tips for enhancing your photographic layouts by playing with scale, color and typography.


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Tip Number 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Go Black-and-White


Sure, full-color photos can look amazing, but if you’re looking for something all-together cooler in your layouts, don’t be afraid to use black-and-white photography.

Greyscale images make a superb backdrop for punchy typography, which looks great on magazines, posters and flyers.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo

To recreate the layout design shown here, just follow the steps below.

Step 1

First up, create a New Document in InDesign (go to File > New > Document) and create your page or spread at the size you would like. Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to draw a frame and expand across the whole page.

Step 2

Download a ready prepared black-and-white image like this one of a desert road, or open up a color photo in Adobe Photoshop and use the Black & White Adjustment available in the Layers panel to desaturate the image of color. Resave the image, and then return to InDesign.

Step 3

With the rectangle frame selected, go to File > Place to drop your black-and-white image inside the frame; then choose Fill Frame Proportionally from the top control panel to fit the image nicely in the frame.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo

Step 4

Expand or open the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and lock Layer 1. Create a new layer on top of this by choosing New Layer… from the panel’s drop-down menu.

You can experiment with your typography on this layer, without worrying about shifting the position of the photo frame below.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo layers panel

To mimic the style of the text pictured here, download and install the free font Sanchez. Using the Type Tool (T) set each individual letter of the heading in its own separate text frame. Set the Font to Sanchez Regular, and vary the size of the letters to give a sense of movement.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo

For this particular photo it makes sense that the letters would decrease in size towards the horizon to give the impression of distance, but you might find that a different arrangement will work better for your particular photo choice.

Step 5

Acidic, neon colors work so well against black-and-white photos. Here, I’ve used a zesty, pure yellow. Create a new CMYK swatch from the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and set the values to C=0 M=0 Y=83 K=0.

To recreate the hazy effect used across the heading, drag your mouse across the page to select a number of text frames and Right-Click (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac OS) > Group. Then with the group selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Under the Transparency settings set the Mode to Overlay.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo overlay transparency

Move down the left-hand menu in the Effects window and select Gradient Feather. Adjust the angle and harshness (by adjusting the slider stops) of the gradient.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo gradient feather

Then click OK once you’re happy with the result.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design black-and-white photo


Tip Number 2: Take a Closer Look…


Playing with the scale of your photos can make a huge difference to the impact of your layout.

If you have a very high-quality image, like this one

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design horse

…try zooming into the details to give the photo a more interesting focus. Getting really close-up to the details of a photo is a fantastic way of getting the reader to notice the quality and beauty of a particular photograph.

working with photos layouts indesign photography graphic design horse zoomed in close-up

To edit the scale of images in InDesign, first File > Place your image into an image frame; then double-click inside the frame to directly select the image. Hold down Shift while you drag the corners outwards to maintain the proportions of the photo.


Tip Number 3: Make Photos and Type Interact 


It’s all very well placing text beside or on top of a photo, but sometimes it can look, well, a little dull.

Look out for photos which allow you to place text on top in an interesting, interactive way.

Take this example layout. With the woman positioned centrally on the layout, we have plenty of room to get creative with text. To the left side, the text is set in Adobe Caslon Pro Regular and has a conventional horizontal format.

working with photos images indesign layouts photography animated typography

To the right, to exaggerate the snow being blown from her hands, letters in Adobe Caslon Pro Italic are set in individual text frames and rotated slightly to create a jaunty, animated appearance.

working with photos images indesign layouts photography animated typography

A gradient (Window > Effects > Gradient Feather) applied to the letters as a group adds to the overall effect.

working with photos images indesign layouts photography animated typography

Ready to start using photos in your layouts? First discover breathtaking photo layout inspiration here, or get back to basics with our InDesign images tutorial.


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