Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Multi-photo layouts (Part 3)

Welcome back to the third part of my little mini-series "Multi-photo layouts". If you are new here and are at all interested in parts one and two, you can find them here and here.

And please don't be shy about leaving comments - it would be lovely to hear from you and feedback is very much appreciated. I have enjoyed writing these posts and am interested to know if you like them or not!

Part one covered the reasons why I might want to make a multi-photo layout while part two covered some of the options you have regarding style of layout or photo size. I thought I might round off by looking at some of the "design" tips I have about combining more than one photo.

Again, I would hasten to add that I'm no design expert but I know what I like and what gets my creative juices flowing and this is the basis of my design style. Some of these tips have been learnt along the way through all those classes I like to take (specifically design from Cathy Z) and some have just evolved, but when I look back over my layouts (have you done that lately - soooo satisfying!) I can see some common threads.

I know there will be some overlap regarding layouts I have already featured in parts one or two but please bear with me.

1. Touching photos

I often do this when I have a lot of smaller sized prints. I group them together kind of as a single unit.

They might be completely overlapping...

or just touching here and there...

or they might just be so close that you sort of see them as all touching.

The main thing is that I position them so that the photos are close together and can be processed one by one within the single group.

I have noticed that one of my favourite combinations seems to be three 5x3 (or 6x4 cut down a bit at least) forming a type of triangle either in the centre or on one of the thirds lines (see below)

2. Different sized photos

I noticed recently that I very often match up a single, standard 6x4 photo with two, three or a few smaller ones - usually 2x3.

It's clear that the larger photo is the main one while the smaller ones support that one or the story in some way. I very often then combine this technique with the touching technique above. I am often afraid that the photos will look too random if I scatter them. (But this can work - see below)

3. Grid

An obvious way to use a lot of photos but one that shouldn't be underestimated, even if you are more artsy and not into the whole straight lines and common margins. It really has its place and is great for photos that represent some sort of series - like my 12 on 12s for example. Once I had settled on a grid format for my 12 square photos, the monthly day-in-review became such an easy concept to pull together. I can still add my own style by distressing and could even lay each photo a bit off-kilter if I wanted. The grid would still be there and it leads your eye easily from left to right and top to bottom. Great for story telling through photos.

4. Film strip

Not necessarily one of my standard go to designs but it can be great if you have a lot of equally important photos and you want to bundle them together so that they stand out more easily on the page as a single piece. I sometimes use this when I want to match my photos up with busy paper or I want to have lots going on around the photos. It helps them stand off the page. This is of course, also ideal for the same sort of story telling as the grid. Your eye will work its way down the strip to get the whole picture.

5. Common margins or symmetry

Often too structured for me, but I have used it a couple of times for layouts with strong images or when I have a lot of journalling. The whole common margin proves really difficult for me but I am still working on it! I think the key is in the planning and that's the bit I am not terribly good at. But I am always proud of myself when I do get it to work!

6. Scattered

This only really works for me when I use lots of small ones. This design originally completed during a class by Nichol Magouirk was perfect for a scattering of some of my favourite Yukon photos at 1.5x1 inch. Look how many you can fit on! I love this effect and can see me coming back to this again and again when I just can't decide or reduce the number of photos I want to use.

7. Rule of thirds

I find myself naturally positioning groups of more than one photo off to the left or down to the bottom very often - i.e. using the left hand or the bottom third of the page. Having learnt through classes that in both photography and scrapbooking that the rule of thirds is very successful visually, I suppose this has just sunk in and I use it without thinking.

Of course, I also group in the centre too, but I don't think I group to the right or the top very often. Perhaps I should try that out and see if it's because it doesn't appeal to me or if it's just fluke!

8. Miscellaneous

I seem to reduce the amount of embellishments directly in proportion to the number of photos, or at least group them all together into one of my clusters.

If I have a lot of journalling, this will be condensed into a single block and then I might go to the trouble of printing it as it will take up less space than hand writing. Most of the time, I am too lazy to print as I always seem to mess up, but I often like the look of it when I have taken the time.

Making one photo stand out as the focal point can be difficult when you are using three or more so there are a few ways you can highlight the main one for the viewer.

Leave the main photo with a white border or actually any colour as long as it's different to the background. Sanding the edges of the photos also gives the white border effect. I use this ALL the time!

Use the principle that size matters. The larger the photo, the more important it will be on the page.

Use arrows, lines, circles or any other pointer type element to let the viewer know that it is the starting point or the photo that matters.

Leave the main photo colour while the others are black and white (or I just fade out the colours a bit). A subtle but effective technique.

So there you have it. More layouts than you ever need to see in a single blog post, but this is how I get it to work for me.

The simple trick is to experiment and find your own way that you like to use photos and if, at the end of the day, you go back to only ever using a single photo - no problem!

I love to squeeze as many on as possible so that I feel that I am using up my ever-growing collection of photos and these techniques definitely work for me. I hope you can find something in all this that will resonate with you.

While writing this, I have had an idea for a final part of the series (which I would then post next Tuesday) but I am not sure.

So at this point, I hope you enjoyed this three part brain dump. Let me know if this is something I should do more often and do share your own multi-photo layouts.


  1. Anonymous12:40 pm

    you[re very good at multi photo LOs, i must try and copy you!

  2. You have good solid design expertise, that's for sure. My trouble is I don't use sensible rules like "reduce the amount of embellishments directly in proportion to the number of photos". But I should - perhaps when I grow up I can scrap the right way.

  3. Really found these posts useful, thanks! I've got sone great ideas for multi photo LOs now :0)

  4. Gosh, there's enough here for a week's worth of posts! Love all the inspiration - thank-you. I'm more of a multi-photo person than a single one too.

  5. Really found your series of posts very helpful. Multi photos is something I don't really do.

    Been inspired and I ordered some multi sized photos today so I can have a go at some multi photo LO.

    Great work x

  6. Wow so many gorgeous LO's in one post. Thank you so much for doing these posts they have been very helpful and inspiring.
    I will definitely be doing a multi photo LO in the next week or so.

  7. thanks for these posts, some really useful info in them. and of course, fab LOs


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