Photography for Impactful Print Marketing

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Graphic Arts, Photography

Photography for Impactful Print Marketing

Photography is key in print marketing. We are visual creatures, after all, absorbing important information from our sense of sight first and foremost.

This is a digital age that’s very photo-focused. Millennials, who will be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025,  live their lives through images. Think about that: With all the social media that focuses on images, your print marketing needs the same kind of visual impact.

Whether you’re producing a catalog, brochure, or even something in a large format, having stunning visuals is the hook that can pull all those pairs of eyes to your materials.

Reading a page of black-and-white text can be tiring, but breaking it up with photos keeps a reader engaged and gives the brain a break from processing words. When it comes to communicating your brand or message, photography can enhance, and go farther than, simple graphic design.

Every print application can have a photographic element: Product photography for catalogs, personnel shots for brochures, abstract textures and shapes for backgrounds, or something more fine arts like a city scene that tells a story, like this example from our friend Antonio Bovino.


What makes an impactful image:

It depends on the purpose of the image, and who your audience is, but the basic rules of photo  composition have stood the test of time:

Rule of thirds




Balancing elements

Leading lines


Additionally, image quality will directly affect how it reproduces in print. Consider these qualities choosing images for your project:

Size: The more you enlarge an image, the grainier it can become. If you see any graininess as you increase the size, you should reconsider your image choice.

Sharpness: Start with the sharpest image you can, as printing can diminish details.

Color balance: Digital imaging software can adjust the color cast, but it can quickly have a compounding effect. Be sure to start will color-balanced images.

Exposure: Photo-editing software can fix under- or over-exposed images, but it can’t show details that weren’t captured from the get-go.

Detail: Zoom in on your images to check that the finest details are in focus. This will help inform how well the image will work when enlarged.

Tips for purchasing photos:

Hiring a photographer is the best solution for custom projects and ensuring top-quality photos. They will work with you and your ideas to create something custom, or they can provide you with a portfolio of work from which to purchase images of your choosing for your print marketing needs.

There are also many websites where you can find images that will help tell a story for your print marketing project as long as you credit the photographer; or to at the very least provide you with some photo inspiration. As an example, Flickr hosts a public photo archive, Creative Commons, where you can search for images based on keywords. When viewing each photo, you can select a particular usage license such as “commercial use.”

Shooting your own photos:

Digital photography is nearly ubiquitous in today’s media landscape, and it can be more economical to shoot images in-house. 

Be sure your camera can shoot at least 6 megapixels and will capture images with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. This ensures your images can be enlarged beyond a standard 4 x 6 inches photo size. Additionally, ensure your camera settings are not on a high-compression setting.

Finally, take care to set the color profile on your camera and digital imaging software. This will keep your images consistent while you evaluate which ones you’ll use for your project.

Other considerations:

As you make your image choices, consider the medium. Photography will look different depending on paper selection. A highly detailed example can look less so on highly textured paper. Lastly, photography can be highlighted using various coating techniques, which we would be happy to advise you on.

At Chicago Print Partners, we can put your stunning imagery to work for your print project.

Have more questions about incorporating photos into your print marketing project? Chicago Print Partners can advise you every step of the way. Start a conversation with us today.

We extend a very special thanks to Antonio and his photography, some of which is highlighted on our website. Please visit his Flickr page to view more of his work.

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