MONROE COUNTY, says The Monroe Journal, is the literary capital of Alabama. And…who am I to argue that?!
Josh Dewberry has been following this blog for some time, and offers two pages for review and comment. I’ll kick in with a few words of questionable wisdom, then it’s your turn.
FROM JOSH: Here are a couple more page submissions. One is the cover of a special section we publish every year during a local stage production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee and Truman Capote are from Monroeville, and thousands of people come to town each year for the play and during the annual Alabama Writers Symposium. I was told to come up with a cover, and racked my brain to come up with something. In the end, I waited until about 15 minutes before sunset and shot the courthouse dome, and then asked a lady in the office to hold the book.
The other page is a photo essay I shot, wrote the story for and put together. We saved the best shot for the front page, and keyed to this page. I tried to take some of the advice I received on my last photo page and apply it here, leaving some negative space around a couple of shots and shooting from one knee and the bed of a pick up parked nearby.
I think you overdid it with the shot of the book cover. Frankly, the moment I saw it, I thought of the
cliché “praying hands” clip art (left) we’ve all seen just about a bazillion too many times. The page would have been much better without that and you could have used that space for the “Celebrating 50 years…” subhead. That would have allowed you to move the “Welcome to…” Head to the right of the cupola, letting the cupola photo go a bit taller. Remember that great design is the art of taking things away. Simplify…simplify…simplify.
I believe the font you’re using here is Ellington, one of my favorites. A modern look with good character width, offering a better-than-average character count in headlines.
FROM ED: Kudos for leaving s-o-m-e space to the outside of the page, but it ain’t much and I noticed you couldn’t resist the temptation to center the photos horizontally in that space. I also think the writing is a bit long. It looks like you strived to get all the story in…then made the photos work. The top four photos are visually interesting but the bottom one‚ which you give a lot of space to, is rather dull. Did you consider doing a cutout on the top left photo? It might have given it much more impact.
Some basic steps (in order) to creating a good photo page:
1. Select the best photos. I usually go for no more than 5-7.
2. Crop the photos to give them strong visual impact.
3. Size the photos the way you visualize them on the page, giving the best shot the largest size.
4. Place the photos on the page.
5. Allow space for a copy block (story) if necessary.
6. Place a caption beneath each photo.
Glad to see you worked with rule 6 here. Putting captions together in one place in the package creates more work for readers, who have to go back/forth/up/down to find which caption goes with which photo.
S0, all…those are my thoughts on Josh’s two pages. How about you?