Page Design – Formatting Photographs for Page Layouts

BY Martha DiMeo

Rarely, if ever, do the proportions of a photograph correspond perfectly to the dimensions of the page layout or specified picture area. Faced with this problem there are three options that usually come to mind—alter the layout to accommodate the photograph, crop the photo to make it fit, or find a replacement photo. But there is an alternative solution; an option that will allow you to proceed with your desired layout and the selected photography. It is a method that is employed routinely in magazine layout design. That is, to create an image extension.

Photo Design & Composition
When additional elements are added to the photo (pictured above), the extension becomes an intrinsic part of the photo’s composition and the page design. Or, the extension can be as simple as extending the background to add to the width or height of the image. In the example of the magazine cover (Figure 2 below) the image was extended on the left and right  to create a full-bleed image.

Figure 2 -Bridal Cover - Photo Extension for magazine cover/© Courtesy of Martha DiMeo

In this third example (Figure 3 below) the art director wanted the layout for this opening spread to consist of just two photographs, used large, with full-bleed on all sides. The right-hand photo needed to extend across the gutter and onto the left-hand side of the spread. My task was to extend the décor of the runway stage and make it appear as if it existed that way in reality.

In addition to creating the extension of the runway backdrop, careful attention was given to the lighting and resulting cast shadows on the floor. The hand of the retoucher might be detected if all were not smoothly blended. Retouching work, to be successful, should be invisible to the viewer. That being said, if you hadn’t seen the “Before” would you have known anything was done to these three images?

Figure 3 -Image extension of the runway’s backdrop to create a double-page spread./© Courtesy of Martha DiMeo

There Just Might Be A Solution
When a photograph doesn’t quite fit the layout, the important thing to remember—before changing the layout or cropping the photo in an undesirably manner to make it fit—is that there just might be a solution. Collaborate with a skilled Digital Imaging Specialist who offers ideas, understands magazine design and page layout, and is highly skilled in Photoshop. The imaging work should be seamless allowing the page design to shine.

Martha DiMeo, Digital Imaging Specialist, is owner of, a photo-editing service company specializing in color correction and retouching for books, magazines, art publishers, advertising, and digital media.

If you found this article informative, visit and subscribe to the RSS blog feed for more articles on digital imaging, image enhancement, retouching, and photo editing. Join Martha on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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