The Right Way to Incorporate Typography with Photography

By now you’ve probably heard time and time again that photos have more impact than text, and are (hopefully!) pairing your text with images in presentations. Now, it’s time to take things one step further to maximize your use of photography in slides.

Here are few simple rules to take your presentations to the next level:

Add An Extra Layer

An easy way to spruce up a presentation is to place your text on top of a beautiful, full bleed photograph. However, this can be problematic when using a full-color photograph due to all the different colors in the photo. If the photograph is saturated with light colors, light text might get too washed out, but dark text might contrast too much and look odd. An easy solution is to add a translucent color overlay to the photo, and then add the text. This adds enough contrast for the text to standout, while still allowing for an interesting, engaging background photo.

This can be done in PowerPoint by simply adding a shape on top of a photo, making the shape a dark color (black works well), placing it where you want your text to go, and then increasing the transparency of the shape so that you can still see the image underneath.

Here’s a sample.

Make the Words Part of the Scene

Another great way to use typography is to add it to a photograph in a way that makes it seem like part of the scene. This is a little advanced and best accomplished in Photoshop, but it yields some amazing results. Simply find an image you would like to use (preferably one with a definite foreground and background), and then add your text and place it onto an item in the foreground, as if it’s peeking out of the object. Next, erase the area that overlaps the foreground object. This hides that section of text and makes it seems like the text is behind the foreground object and in front of the background.

It should look something like this when you are done:

It’s All About Perspective

Another way to incorporate text into your photo is by using the perspective tool in Photoshop. This allows you to adjust the text in a way that makes it seem as if it’s being viewed from the angle of the camera, not just flat on the screen. If you have Photoshop, this is an easy one. Once you’ve chosen your photo, just add your text, select it in the Layer Panel, right click the layer and convert the text to a Smart Object. With the Text Object selected, go to Edit > Transform > Perspective (or use shortcut command+T) then just grab a corner and drag it until the text is positioned in your desired perspective. It’s that simple.

You should then have something similar to this example:

Typography and photography: Two beautiful things if used in the right way.

READ MORE: 5 Typography Tips for Every Presenter

About the Author

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki.

If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University. Find Scott on Google+.

11 Responses to “The Right Way to Incorporate Typography with Photography”

  1. Nixon Virtual Strategies

    Excellent article! It’s funny, I was just talking with a client about this. We’re always collecting/hoarding great stock photos for future articles, web pages and blog posts but often the photo is beautiful but no quite appropriate. Take the one you used up there with the diabetes message. That photo alone could be appropriate for a myriad of articles/topics. But by using well laid out text it seems the perfect picture for that topic.

    Thanks for this. Looks like I’ll be playing with PhotoShop this weekend!

    Patricia Nixon
    Nixon Virtual Strategies

    The Power of Delegation
    recognized by Forbes

  2. Lizeth Rodríguez

    Thanks a million for this tips!!! I usually use photographies but it was a problem when I wanted to add text. Really helpful =)

  3. ?amdan Modelleri

    first method easy, second way little bit hard for me. I guess it is not usefull all photo therefore it seem hard but prety. I will try.

    Thanks for all tips

  4. Craig Hadden

    These are great ideas, especially the 2nd one, where you overlap the text with parts of the photo. I wanna try it cause it looks great!

    In fact you can still get the same results even if you don’t have Photoshop.

    For instance, to make something like the “old news” shot, duplicate the photo, use Remove Background on the upper copy to get rid of everything above the ridge that “old” will sit on, then use Align Left and Align Top to line up the 2 photos. Lastly, drag the big “OLD” text to the right place on the slide and use Bring To Front to put the foreground photo on top of it. Voila!

    Or for perspective text (like the “principles” shot), you can use the 3D Rotation tab in the Format Shape dialog box, like I did for mild perspective on the word “Pause” in this photo:

    Thanks for the inspiration Scott!

  5. Matt Desmond

    Hi there,

    Thank you for these tips!

    You might be interested in this website too:

    They have quality PowerPoint presentations and Templates where theu use great fonts on visuals.



  6. Andrea De Ruiter

    Thanks for this great and inspirational article.
    As we all know Pictures say more than words and with moving images you can communicate your message even more effectively and with more emotion.
    Love to see more, Andrea