The Right Way to Incorporate Typography with Photography

March 31, 2014

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+.