Screenshot of the Wonder Woman Movie website
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Pattern 6: Source high end photography

High end photography can practically do half your visual design work for you.


Designers who work for large clients often get a huge library of custom photography to use in their designs. Or, they might even get the chance to work with a photographer and art direct photo shoots to get high quality and incredibly specific photos. One example is designing websites for movies; these projects often come with a large library of press photos the designers can use.

Having access to high quality photography is a huge advantage. Here are some examples so you can see what I mean.

Screenshot of the Cytrix website

Via Cytrix

Screenshot of the Polaroid website

A 2nd screenshot of the Polaroid website

A 3rd screenshot of the Polaroid website

Via Polaroid

Screenshot of Fanny Myard's website

Via Fanny Myard

Screenshot of the Beats by Dre website

Another screenshot of the Beats by Dre website

Via Beats

Screenshot of the Wonder Woman Movie website

Via Show Your Warrior

Screenshot of Ubisoft's website

Another screenshot of Ubisoft's website

Via Ubisoft (This example uses video game screenshots and concept art rather than photography.)

In the designs above, the photos themselves are so incredible that the designers just drop one onto the page and use it as the foundation of the entire design. The photos are the focal point, and the designers clearly know this and let the photography do the heavy lifting. The result is wonderful.

This pattern might seem impossible to use if you don’t have a dedicated photographer or large library of photography supplied by the client.

However, you can use high end photography in your own designs by using the same methods as high-profile design agencies and companies with big marketing budgets—just at a smaller scale.

Use premium stock photos

Not all stock photos are created equal. It’s easy forget that there is a wealth of high quality stock photography available—just at a premium price.

But the price is often worth the quality you get in return.

For example, browse a more premium stock photos site like Getty Images, and you’ll find all kinds of interesting, high end photos. The difference is startling when you use higher quality of photos in your design—the effect is totally different from the cheesy, low-end stock you might be used to seeing (and smirking at).

Hire a photographer

Stock photos are quick and easy, but don’t forget that it’s entirely possible to hire great photographers at reasonable rates—possibly even for less that the price of a single premium stock photo.

This is a huge opportunity that many designers completely ignore. You don’t have to work at an agency for a fortune 500 company to hire a photographer for your project. It’s possible even with smaller budgets.

Regardless of where you live there are pretty much guaranteed to be local photographers worth their salt. You can easily hire photographers remotely too.

One place to start looking: 500px.


Looking for something specific? Email us here to suggest a design pattern.
Written by Jarrod Drysdale.


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