The photo above aches for text. Whether on a glossy two-page spread in a women’s magazine or a front page story about commuters, the photo isn’t complete without the context and balance that texts brings.
Words and photos are both powerful and each appeals to different senses in different functions, so why do we so often separate them? Beyond kitsch memes on Facebook with annoyingly dominant white type set in Geoffrey Lee’s san-serif Impact typeface, most photos and texts remain distant cousins.
Photographers, on one side, vehemently uphold their images like immaculate virgins, incapable of being dirtied with distracting type. Designers, in contrast, bastardize the surface of every pixel, adding glows, shadows, strokes, drop caps and glyps with abandon.
There is truth on each side, some photos remain sacred and some simple images lend themselves to designers’ penchant for fusing elements.
Rather than allowing one’s personal preference to dictate communication decisions, we should instead ask “What would best serve the viewer?” Considering this perspective in contrast to adhering to long-held design traditions is more likely to appeal to the viewer and aid in accessibility and engagement.