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How to Use Photography in Graphic Design

How to Use Photography in Graphic Design

Photography in graphic design is a common practice all over the world. Both skills are connected. Graphic design is incomplete without photography. Adding photographs makes the designs more professional. 

Apart from generating layouts and contrasting colours, the designers need realistic elements to make their work relatable and portray a connection with the audience. In that case, you must pick the right photos for your design. 

Have you ever tried to use photographs in a graphic design project? Do you know how to use it? Not yet? Then, get set and go. Keep reading to get detailed guidance on using photography in visual designs.    

What is Photography In Graphic Design?

What Is Brand Photography Example

Photography captures moments with the perfect lighting, texture, lines, and shades using a camera and lens. It's also called ‘drawing with light' and is used as a medium for telling stories visually. 

Graphic design is an art process of generating layouts and visual effects, creating typography, shapes, and colours, or enhancing photos for business purposes, personal branding, and social media management. 

Blending photography and graphic design helps to build a natural connection with the audience. Photography in graphic design is an artistic blending, and designers add depth and emotion to the photographs. In addition, it helps the designers turn the photographic element into their visual communication. 

They use photography to create a unique brand identity, from product images to portraits. With impressive visualisation, designers create an identifiable brand image for different businesses. 

Nevertheless, photographs also influence the overall design, including the layout, composition, and colour balance. Designers use visual effects with aesthetics and photo editing tools to manipulate or beautify the photos to make the designs more alluring. 

Moreover, they can improve their aesthetics and visual storytelling. These designs can be used in web design, personalised print materials, brochures, flyers, posters, magazines, social media graphics, and even printed t-shirt patterns. 

But can a photographer or photography make any difference in graphic design? In the next part, we're going to explain this to you. 

How Can Photographers Enhance Your Designs

Photographers can do it for you if you want to blend creativity, aesthetics, and human connection into your designs. Whether e-commerce product photos or reinforcing brand image, photography ensures authenticity. 

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You must understand which photographers or photography to pick to make the designs perfect and subtle. Suppose you're creating designs for online product shops. In that case, you'll need an e-commerce product photographer.  

At the same time, if the designs are for magazines, personal branding, company branding, print materials, or social media posts, the best NYC headshot photographer is convenient because they're experts in clicking portrait images for professional and business purposes. 

Primarily, graphic designers work with headshots for professional designs such as press releases, publications, and websites. Collaborating with headshot photographers can be a wise decision if you're working with magazines and social media platforms. 

This photography style helps designers create a strong brand identity, adapt diverse design styles, and give life and emotional touch to their designs. Additionally, headshots' cohesive aesthetics and expressive thoughts ensure a consistent value on social media platforms. 

The Importance of Photography in Graphic Design

Photography In Visual Marketing

Including photography in your graphic design increases the effectiveness of your digital landscape. It's also important for visual appeal and emotional connections with your viewers or clients. Here are some critical reasons for the importance of photography in graphic design. 

Improves Visual Communication and Storytelling 

Photography is a powerful tool that helps convey thoughts and encourages realistic visual storytelling. It's essential to engage the viewers to create an impactful design. 

If you choose good photographs, they'll capture more of an audience than using stock images. Real-life photographs reflect a graphic designer's effort to enhance genuine heart-to-heart communication with the viewers. 

Ensures Aesthetic Appeal 

When you pick random stock images, you edit the photos to make them usable for designs. It takes extra effort to make them aesthetic to the audience. But by using professional photographs, you can add your complex ideas to increase the aesthetic appeal and make the designs more eye-catching. 

Creates Brand Identity 

As stock images aren't authentic and reliable, these won't make a substantial brand value. These images sometimes have copyright issues as well. Capturing photos specially for your brand assures trustworthiness and creates connections with more people. In this way, you can communicate better with the potential clients virtually. Nothing can stop you from succeeding in your industry once you enter the business with a powerful brand identity.

Increases Design Quality

Using photographs for designs lets you brainstorm the layouts and colour coordination and revise the ideas repeatedly. Using photography in graphic design opens diverse possibilities for designers because they can experiment with their ideas and discover new patterns. In this way, photography can upgrade the design quality.  

Helps in Marketing and Advertising

Most of the time, photography is used for promoting business products or services. In that case, authentic photographs can boost the business better than stock or artificial intelligence-generated photos. 

It directly influences the consumer's perception and builds an honest relationship with you. It would be best to use actual photographs in your graphic visualisation for effective marketing and advertising of your business.

You must also understand what types of images are suitable for graphic design. It'll help you explore different image types' uses in your professional design projects. 

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Types of Images in Graphic Design 

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As a professional graphic designer, you'll need various images to portray a brand perspective to the consumers. Here, we've included common image types that you can use for your designs. 


Photos are the most essential tool to create realistic and extraordinary graphic designs. You can use product photos, headshots, portraits, and nature photographs to make the designs relatable to the audience. This emotional connection attracts them to your brand. 


Another most expressive way to add a lively vibe to the design is illustrations. Most expert graphic designers use this image type to beautify their artwork. However, you can add this to make the designs innovative and appealing. Including animated artwork in the poster, printing materials, and social media graphics connects the viewers better. 


For customised graphic designs, you can use specific drawings. It can be pencil and colour sketches with a human and personal touch. Besides that, you can utilise the drawings of famous sketch artists with the copyright to reach the people who love aesthetics. 


When you don't have enough materials for the designs, graphic images save you there. However, it requires good illustration knowledge, colour palettes, and proper structure planning. 

If you're in the professional graphic design business, brushing up your skills in this part of the design is mandatory. These images make the design unique and exciting. 

Learning how to use photography to create realistic designs is necessary. You'll learn the practical techniques below.

How do you use photography to take your designs to the next level?

Best Photography Studio Near Me

A professional graphic designer should blend a personal touch into the designs. And it can happen when you start photography to make your designs engaging and memorable. Here are the ten tips for learning photography techniques to uplift your designs. 

Learn the basics

Becoming a professional photographer is a long way to go. However, learning the basics is enough for graphic design. In that case, you don't have to go for training. You can learn the primary tools and how they work from YouTube and social media communities. 

Additionally, you can learn from fellow photographers and friends for better knowledge. Remember one thing: practice makes a man perfect. The more you practice the techniques, the more you'll get excellent photographs. It can't happen overnight.  

Get the right aesthetic.

One of the significant features of graphic design is its aesthetic outlook. So, it's essential to understand the right aesthetic angle for the photographs. It'll make your design plan easier if you can click photos with aesthetic backgrounds or lighting. Capturing the aesthetic ideally can make the designs more lucrative.  

Creativity and Innovation

A creative and innovative mind is the crucial strength of photography for design. To explore the artistic design patterns, you need to look into the photographers' portfolios to enhance your imagination and express a genuine message with the photography. It can help you to create a captivating visual appeal in graphic design.

Remember the purpose

While capturing the photo for design, you must remember the purpose. Whether you want to use storytelling or convey a message to portray the photograph in your design, you must remember it during the photography session. Otherwise, it can mess up the whole photography and graphic design process.  

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Tell a story

Most graphic designers choose storytelling to get attention from audiences of all ages. Generally, people feel attracted to the stories, which engages them quickly. 

However, it would help if you considered the story you want to capture in the photograph and how to use it for the design. However, storytelling photography and designs can expand the viewer base. 

Create visual interest

You must add visual elements to your photography to make the designs enchanting. To create visual interest in photography, you can include texture and contrasting colours, use leading lines, focus on particular subjects, and think with unique perspectives. 

Create unique backgrounds

Preparing a picture-perfect background is influential because it ensures trustworthiness. On the other hand, photos with backgrounds removed using photo retouching tools look unprofessional and repetitive. 

Abstract, gradient, and fabric backdrops are the best background creation methods. If you can't prepare a suitable background, you can add it later with Adobe Photoshop after capturing the photos. 

Utilise emotion

Emotion is a necessary part of both photography and graphic design. You can only reach and engage people if you can express your emotions and stories. To utilise the sadness and emptiness, use colours in the photography. 

You can use backlighting, different camera angles, and positions to express diverse emotions. Make use of the composition to convey a message through photography. 

Be bold

Capturing photos is an art, so you need confidence to portray it better. When you're in doubt, it'll reflect in the pictures. It's better to be bold in photography to produce visionary designs. As a graphic designer, I use aggressive visual effects to make the photos dramatic. 

Be flexible and experimental.

Being experimental is one of the most essential things for photography. Experimenting with various photography styles and angles to create unique pieces would be best. However, flexibility is compulsory for every art form, and it makes a masterpiece photo for the design.

Incorporating photographs in branding and marketing materials

What Is Brand Photography

You can incorporate relevant photographs to perfectly show the vision and mission to create designs for business or personal branding purposes. Not only that, but you can also use the photos in your portfolio to reach more clients. For more in-depth details, let's check out below!

Logos and branding elements

You can edit the photographs with different tools and align them to the designs easily to represent a brand to the audience. Including photos in logos, flyers, brochures, or social media posts can enhance the brand's visual appearance.

Social media graphics 

Beginner designers start their design journey with social media graphics. And for social media, you must add photos to the designs. Trendy photographs are the best way to grab the audience's attention on public platforms. 

You can add photographs with relatable typography on YouTube thumbnails, Facebook, Instagram shop promotions, and personal branding like influencer marketing. It's the most common way to get more reach on social media. 

Print materials

Designing print materials like t-shirts, notebooks, brochures, flyers, and book covers can be more fun if you can add photographs. From natural scenarios to seasonal trends, wildlife photography, and headshots, you can include any of them in the print materials to create lucrative graphic artwork. 

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Is learning photography enough for graphic design? No, right? It's also essential to choose the right photo for the design. So, in the next section, we've included some easy tips you should follow to pick the perfect images. 

Tips on choosing the right photos for your design

Product Photo Editing Adidas Shoes

While clicking photos, we continue until we feel satisfied. But we need to keep only a few of them for the design. Here are the proven tips to get the right photos for your design. 

Go high-quality

For graphic design, you should choose the photos with high resolution and specific format according to the photo quality. Low-quality photos only ruin the designs. You need to be extra careful about the quality and never compromise with the quality. To take the pictures for graphic design, use the direct transfer method. 

Don't settle for stock.

One of the signs of a newbie or unprofessional graphic designer is using stock images in the designs. It can work at the initial stage of learning. But sticking with the stock photos from Google or other sites won't be a good idea after that. 

Following brand guidelines

The first rule of graphic design is to serve the brand's purpose. So, read the brand guidelines carefully and follow them while choosing the photos for design. The photo size, resolution, layout, and colour depending on the brand's instructions. 

Aim to Engage 

While choosing the photos, you must consider whether they can engage the audience. Moreover, you should use trendy and appealing images in your graphic design projects to attract viewers, and that's the primary purpose of using photography in graphic design. 

Know its purpose 

As a professional graphic designer, you should understand the purpose of using a specific photo. If you create the design for personal branding, you must choose pictures relatable to the person. Using unnecessary images in the design can't serve the purpose better. 

Copyright and Licensing 

The mandatory things to consider while selecting photographs for graphic design are copyright and licensing. It's not wise to pick random photos from Google and use them in your designs. Because it can cause legal issues, choose the ones that ensure proper copyright and licensing. 

Remember emotions.

A graphic designer should choose photos that convey an emotional message to the viewers. People connect better with the expressive touch than anything else in this world. In that case, select the relatable images for most people out there. 

Keeping up with design trends

It's better to go with the flow. Follow the trends to get success in the design field. You must read people's minds to catch up with trendy designs. Beyond that, you need to fulfil the demands of mass people. So, choose the photos that align with the popular design trends

Client communication in incorporating photography

Before starting the design work, ask your clients about their requirements. Then, you should pick the photos for the designs to help you choose the right one because you need to know how to bring out the best outcome.

After that, you can experiment with your creative insights with photographs and provide the draft to the client before the final submission.

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Can a graphic designer do photography?

Graphic designers can do photography because they have a strong sense of colour, composition, lighting, and visual storytelling. Using these methods, they can capture photos for their design projects. 

Should graphic designers learn photography?

Hiring professional photographers is expensive and difficult for beginners to afford. So, graphic designers should learn photography because they will constantly need it. 

Is photography a part of graphic design?

Photography is the most essential part of graphic design. No matter what you design, you'll need real-life images to make the designs professional and aesthetic. It builds a powerful connection between conveying messages or storytelling and visual appeal. 


Finally, we come to the end of our discussion of how to use photography in graphic design. This guide will help you to grab more graphic design projects. But only including real-life photographs won't make mind-blowing artworks. 

Learning graphic design properly is also essential. After all, you must be more passionate about photography and graphic design. 

We suggest following the portfolios and work of famous photographers and graphic designers. Learn the basics of photography and infuse them with your meaningful thoughts to create an appealing design.

Author Bio: Based in New York City, David Genik is the premier headshot photographer in the area. He specialises in portraits for actors, fashion industry clients, LinkedIn profiles, corporations, executives, and other professionals. David's photography style is heavily influenced by fashion-based editorials with dramatic lighting choices mixed with classic design. With over 15 years of experience photographing diverse subjects, David is highly skilled at connecting with his clients and understanding their needs for the perfect headshot. Whether his clients are looking for traditional corporate shots or edgy, artistic portraits, David works closely with them to understand their vision and goals. The final images showcase both his technical expertise and creative artistry.

Photo of author

Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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