Photos Tell Their Story

Photography creates an optical illusion. It captures what the person behind the lens wants you to see. With the right lighting and set up, your eyes can be manipulated quite easily. A photo can go from being a light, happy image to a creepy one by only changing the lighting. Images are powerful. They affect the way you feel. Creativity is important in making great work but there must be structure and principles to guide the work.


Rule of Thirds

Park bench photo featured in The Online Dark Room blog
Photo by Bruce Robbins –

This photo was featured on a blog called The Online Dark Room. The monochromatic color scheme reveals a lonely theme. The deserted bench, the barren trees, and the desolate background exhibits the overall theme of loneliness.

The focus of this photo, the bench, is easily identified and properly placed within the intersecting lines per the Rule of Thirds. Putting the bench off to the side allows for some white space. This is good because the white space highlights the subject, the lonely bench, and plays into the tone of the photo. The bench is there all alone, desolate, with nothing around but some bare trees. There is nothing else nearby. The lighting is dark. These dynamics play together nicely to give the photo a melancholy tone.

Photo by Ana Kendall

In my depiction of the Rule of Thirds I used the Tree as my focus. It is placed in the photo where the intersecting lines meet, just like the example I used above. The placement of the tree, along the lines in the photo shows the viewers where to focus their attention. The subject of my photograph stands out because it is placed along the correct lines required per the Rule of Thirds. I took this photo in the middle of the day. I also used a burlesque color setting to give it a desert, western type of look.

Leading Lines

Photo by Pete Piriya –

This scene was photographed by a professional photographer. This photo was taken right before the sun set in the sky. The horizon, with the sun and sky in the picture, gives it a nice feel of being outdoors.

The rows of flowers clearly outline the direction of the photograph. They guide the eyes along the picture and through the field. The vibrant color of the flowers and the dark texture of the mud is soothing to the eye. You feel as if you were in the picture and running through the field. This photo was taken during the golden hour as the colors are soft and there are no harsh shadows cast.

Photo by Ana Kendall

I took this photo in the late morning to capture dark shadows. I made the photo black and white to give it an isolated tone and a feel of the unknown. In this photo the lines along the house draw the eyes toward the door. It makes the viewers wonder what is behind the door. It prompts you to want to open it.

Depth of Field

Photo of Norway posted by the Norway Today online newspaper.
Featured image in Norway Today –

This photograph was featured in a traveling website that focuses on Norway. They, very appropriately, placed the flag of Norway on their main page to highlight their subject.

This photo shows off its subject by focusing in on it and leaves the rest in the background. The Norway flag is boldly displayed, while the mountains in the background are not as clear but it gives the viewer a glimpse of the great land that the flag oversees below. This gives the viewer an immediate place to look to when they initially see the photo. They can tell right away what the photograph is about. All the colors are very vivid, especially that of the flag. It appears to be in motion, almost waving, to reflect country pride. The background still serves a purpose but requires a lesser amount of consideration than the flag. This photo appears to have been taken in the middle of the day because of the bright colors and dark shadows.

Photo by Ana Kendall

My photo has very similar elements to the example used above for this principle. Both display the outdoors and horizon type of scenery. I shot this photo from a window seat on an airplane. Just below me was the right wing. The wing starts out large on the bottom and then shrinks up to the horizon, drawing a leading line of direction. The background earth can be seen below the wing, showing how high the airplane is lifted off the ground. The ground below and body of water look small compared to the massive airplane wing. You can see depth with the difference in height from the airplane to the earth, similarly to the Norway flag and mountains picture.


It doesn’t take an expert to capture a good photograph, as long as the basic principles of photography are adhered to. Sometimes disregarding a principle is necessary for a phenomenal photo, however most of the time keeping these principles will provide successful results. These tools will provide structure for your creativity and allow you to be the designer behind the lens so you can create a masterpiece. You invent the illusion.


Contrasting Type Comforts the Reader’s Appetite

Panera Bread Ad featured on Sonoma Magazine
Panera Bread Ad featured on Sonoma Magazine’s Website

This ad was featured on Sonoma Magazine’s website in 2011 to advertise a new chicken noodle soup at Panera Bread. This ad used a comfort food as it’s focus and composed the entire ad around the concept of comfort to persuade readers to buy the new chicken noodle soup from Panera Bread. The design has a very soothing tone.

Type #1: Slab Serif

Ad for Panera Bread featured in Sonoma Magazine online website

The top portion of this ad consists of a Slab serif typeface. There is a small change in the thick to thin transition within the letters. The ascenders contain horizontal, slab-like characteristics. Overall, the typeface is very easy to read. This is the kind of text I would enjoy reading within a book.

Type #2: Sans Serif

Panera Bread Ad featured on Sonoma Magazine's website using Sans serif Type

The second half of this ad used a Sans serif typeface. There is no serif found in this text. The curved bracket is missing from all the letters. There is no thick to thin transition as all the letters are the same thickness throughout.

The Contrast

The color of all the text in this ad is a soft brown throughout, but there are strong differences that make the ad come together and feel complete. The form of the Sans serif type is very different from the Slab serif, however both types are easy to read. The Slab serif font size was enlarged, to make it look bigger than the lower text. The purpose of this is to call on the reader’s attention and make them think this needs to be read first. There is a very subtle, light-green hue outlining the brown letters, which adds nice contrast. This further spotlights the text. The light-green hue looks like a lighter version of the color used in the Panera Bread logo.

The Sans serif characters that follow are in a different form than the Slab serif. They are all upper-case letters, but they are a smaller size than the Slab serif type. The weight in these letters was increased enough to distinguish itself completely from the text above. There is also a subtle shadow surrounding each letter in the Sans serif typeface.


With the light-pink hue of the background, and the dark brown letters of each typeface, both the Slab serif and the Sans serif types stand out. Their very dramatic dissimilarities complement each other and bring the ad together as a whole. The soft brown color used in the text derives from the brown in the bread bowl featured in the ad. Each characteristic ties in nicely with the purpose of the ad. The color scheme used exhibits a comforting and inviting quality that a chicken noodle soup represents. This is the essence of the ad. It attracts the reader and then directs them on where their eyes should go next, making for a phenomenal viewing experience that prompts them to buy Panera’s new chicken noodle soup. The ad serves it’s purpose.

Magnetizing In-N-Out Ad Pulls In Viewers

In N Out Facebook Ad
In-N-Out Ad featured on Facebook

This ad was featured on In-n-Out’s Facebook page. It does a great job on using all 4 design principles and, even if you’re not a fast-food junkie, makes you take a second look.



In N Out Ad for Facebook
In N Out Ad Featured on Facebook

The use of the bright white in the employees’ uniforms, the drink cup, and the tray of fries contrast well with the bold red. The great difference in these colors is key as they make each stand out to the eye. It gives a spotlight to both the light hues and dark shades. The yellow in the fries and the cheeseburger also differ nicely with the red and white, in the background. The difference in the colors makes for a mesmerizing ad. It draws you in with its boldness of use in contrast.



In-N-Out Facebook Ad
In-N-Out Ad Featured on Facebook

The red palm trees are used consistently in the design of the sponsored drink cup and tray of fries. The red palm trees are also found in the design of the actual In-N-Out establishment. This repeated logo gives the viewer an association of food to this food establishment each time a red palm tree in seen.



In-N-Out Facebook Ad
In-N-Out Ad Featured On Facebook

The emphasis in this ad is the food and that’s where your eyes go first. Then your eyes are guided to the “quality since 1948” phrase in this ad, which aligns in the center right alongside the picture of the employees. After your eye is draw in with the food, the structure and position of the phrase comforts the eye and guides it to the picture of the employees, thus re-emphasizing their focus on great quality.


In-N-Out Facebook Ad
In-N-Out Ad Featured On Facebook

The picture of the cheeseburger and fries immediately captivates the eye first. This is the ultimate fast-food combination and it is made to look absolutely scrumptious. Keeping the food and drink grouped together illustrates the focus of the ad, which is quality.



In-N-Out Facebook Ad
In-N-Out Ad Featured In Facebook

The repetitive use of the color red is training the mind to associate In-N-Out food with the color red. Not only is the background red, but many elements associated with this establishment are also red. The employees’ uniforms and building decorations are red. Red is even in the food. Red is everywhere. White is also present. It is such a different color than red, but also has a strong presence. Although the white color may take up less space than the red color, it seems to stand out a bit more.


All of these design principles marry together this ad perfectly. The bright, clear images used are comforting to the eyes. Their placement and colorful uses are key to making this ad feel complete. You feel good viewing this ad.

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