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Somehow the two fields are connected to each other. This makes many art schools add photography courses to their design degree requirements or vice versa. In this article, I will try to explore with you if graphic designers really need to learn about photography, and I would like to hear your personal opinion and experience about graphic design and photography as linked talents.

Photography In Your Design

If you are a graphic designer who works in any of the design fields or even video production, you will agree with me that you choosing images is an essential part of your daily tasks. You need to select the suitable images for your design or even recommend specific photos for your client. You can take the images by yourself, hire a photography agency, or buy it from stock photography sites, such as iStockphoto and Shutterstock.

For any of these three options, you need to spend time, effort and money to get the images integrated into your design. If the image is not good enough or does not reflect the client’s needs, it will be rejected and will cost your extra effort and money to find a replacement image.

Therefore, graphic designers need to have the good eye of photographers to be able to choose the best photos for their designs. This skill can be achieved by looking at photos, comparing them and learning the basics of photography that allow you to take useful shots or judge stock photos before you buy them from stock photo sites.

The experiment shows that designers who are familiar with the basic concepts of photography are more able to choose the best images for their design than designers who do not have this background.

Complemented Knowledge

Both graphic design and photography are visual arts that are based on similar rules to create a final design or a photograph. Both build the artwork inside a frame, but with different tools. While a graphic designer uses a computer and design elements to build the final artwork, a photographer uses a camera and objects to build the final image.

Graphic design and photography are linked to each other

For example, photography teaches you viewpoint and using different angles to reflect a specific meaning. A lower angle that shows a person or product from the bottom view reflects the meaning of high value and greatness. Additionally, photography will help graphic designers to learn about other related concepts, such as the rule of thirds that helps you choose the best place for the main object or person in the shot or design.

Understanding Composition

The term composition refers to the arrangement of elements and objects in your design or photography frame. While many designers have trouble arranging the elements in a design, their knowledge of photography can help them build a good composition and think of their designs as if they were building a photography scene.

The rule of thirds in photography and design

Designers who have learned composition from photography are paying attention to the objects and how our eyes move through a design to explore it. So, they position the important elements in the point of focus and start to arrange the other objects as a second priority.

Photography can also teach designers how to better judge the space and the ratio of elements in a design, as photographers arrange elements in the image frame based on their knowledge of using the space to serve the overall composition in the shot.

Taste The Colors

Although colors are one of the basic elements that graphic designers should understand and learn about, many designers who have not had art education find it hard to select the best combination of colors and choose the colors in their design.

The color wheel is very important for designers and photographers

In art schools, you learn about color theory and the relationship between colors. This knowledge helps you to choose the colors in your design in addition to other information, such as the clients’ needs or the characteristics of the audience. For example, if you are designing a children’s book, you need to choose bright and attractive colors.

If you did not get the chance to have art education, photography can teach you how to taste colors, because looking at the world through your camera lens can help you learn about the nature of colors and how they fit together. Furthermore, it can give you ideas about new color combinations that you do not find in color applications.

Understanding Light Directions

In the field of digital design and art, I have noticed that many designers make a deadly mistake when choosing the light directions in their digital art design or scene design. They usually mix the light directions and wrongly apply the shadows in the scene, which turns the design or digital artwork into a full visual mess.

Light meters measure the light in your scene

When you learn photography, you also learn about the lights in your shot. The light reflects on the objects and returns to your camera lens to produce the image. Photography teaches you – the hard way – how to use the light and analyze lights and shadows before pressing the shutter button.

Keep Your Eye On Image Quality

I have noticed that many designers, especially juniors, do not pay much attention to the image quality that they are using in their designs. They usually scale the images with wrong proportions or crop the images without caring too much about the elements in the picture. Some other junior designers add low quality or pixilated images to their designs.

Camera Raw plugin in Adobe Photoshop

On the other hand, photographers seek very high quality and high resolution images with a careful attention to each artistic and technical detail in the final image, such as the resolution, sharpness, colors, and exposure. Most photographers shoot their images using the Camera Raw format technology that preserves the image properties and camera information. Later, they can use this technology to edit the images in Adobe Photoshop without quality loss.

Photography Copyrights

If you are a photographer, or at least have a photography background, you will learn about the effort and time other photographers take to shoot their images so they can sell it on stock photo sites, such as iStockphoto and ShutterStock. As you start taking photos and build your photography profile, you will feel it is like karma, and you need to respect other photographers’ work so others will respect yours.

Both designers and photographers should respect the copyrights of photographs

You can also start taking the photos required for your design projects yourself if you cannot afford buying them from stock photography sites. There are many resources that can help you learn photography online such as:
Digital Photography School
Exposure Guide
Cambridge in Color

In conclusion, graphic design and photography are closely linked to each other in both the learning process and career life. Learning photography can add value to your work and your resume. In this article, we have explored why designers should learn photography basics and how this affects their design work and life. Share with us your opinion about this idea and if photography really helped you, or you think it would help you in your work.