July 7, 2009 / Idea File Supplement

Clustered Photos, and Clustered Captions

Written by Idea File Staff

Wings Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, Calif.

Wings Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, Calif.


Maverick  - Mesa Verde High School Citrus Heights, Calif.

Maverick - Mesa Verde High School Citrus Heights, Calif.

If you picked up a yearbook five years ago, every page would have had a dominant photo — one that was at least two-and-a-half times larger than any of the other visual elements on the page — and every picture would have had its own caption and been separated from other page elements by at least one pica. Dominants today are no longer about just one element, and the one-pica rule seems to be somewhat optional. Photos in the new books are butted up against each other, and three or more photos are often combined into a cluster. Captions are often presented as a group or in a cluster. They may be separated by a dingbat or spot color as seen in the Maverick from Mesa Verde High School, Citrus Heights, Calif.

“We are looking at different ways to create visual dominance. Where once we said, ‘The dominant photo must be two to two-and-a-half times larger than the next largest photo,’ now we create a dominant — several photos butted together or maybe overlapping a little. Visually, these clustered photos become the dominant element on the page. With that has come the need to cluster captions.”
Susan Massy
Lair
Shawnee Mission
Northwest High School
Shawnee, Kan.

Photoshop Influence
When Adobe Photoshop first showed up on computers, staffs rushed to take advantage of the new technology and incorporated it into graphics, headlines, pictures, and anything else they could think of. With today’s emphasis on cleaner, simpler design, schools are now using Photoshop almost solely to enhance photography and better illustrate a story.

Wings from Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, Calif., uses the subtle and sometimes overt repetition of images to illustrate this student profile. At first glance, only three images of the girl are apparent. A closer look will reveal the fourth image of her on the left. Notice also that the horizontal photo has been split into strips and deconstructed slightly. The use of Photoshop is kept simple and elegant, enhancing and repeating the main message of the story.

“I think people are calming down on Photoshop effects, and if you look at really good books, there are very little Photoshop effects other than improving the quality of the photo. We’re not seeing as many Photoshop kind of headlines; we’re not seeing as many collage kind of effects as we did.”
Jim Jordan,
Decamhian,
Del Campo High School,
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.