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dark_lord’s latest blog : presentation styles


Presentation Styles

25 Nov 2021 7:54PM  
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This is a related topic to my previous blog concerning image style. How we present our images has an effect on how they’re perceived.

The vast majority of images are viewed online these days, or at least on an electronic device. The way images are presented on screen and in print can be very different. Some ways work just as well, others suit one or the other medium better. Better is a subjective term of course, it’s that some ways are more effective than others. So I’ll look at some examples with some general guidance.

Let’s first consider online images. Most are displayed on a web page as is. Often this is fine, and for general sites where images are purely informational you don’t need any more. For photographic sites, and sites where the image is important it can help if the image is demarcated in some way. Many poto sites have black or dark grey backgrounds. That in itself is a presentation style and with good reason, as the images, especially colour, appear more vibrant that way. Strongly coloured or darker images need something to contain or define the extremities and a thin keyline does help. Equally with pale or high key images on a white background.

The question then becomes how wide a keyline to use. Thin lines are often sufficient. Black or white keylines often work best as they don’t fight the image for attention. There is a school of thought that says avoid coloured lines. But they are worth a try, for example a sepia line around a sepia toned image may be less stark than black or white. Bright colours work less well, or rather suit fewer subjects. But don’t feel constrained. Simple keylines look good on printed images.


The next step is a border. They can be used for effect, to simulate the white border you used to get on prints years ago. Given that screen area is an issue, borders can make the displayed image small and thus lss engaging for the viewer. Great if you have a 4K screen but phone and tablet viewers will be at a disadvantage. With print there’s more freedom to choose, though as a viewer I’m not a fan of small images floating in a sea of white as I feel cheated that I cant enjoy the image to it’s fullest extent. Certainly with prints though, some border, whether that’s space on the print itself or the use of a mount, can set the image off in a frame. Mount colour is important, and generally pale neutral tones suit most images. Darker mounts can complement an image, for example dark green surrounding a woodland image though the important thing is that it’s complementary. If you have a bright subject you may want to try a bright mount, but I’d say it’s much harder work. Or maybe you prefer he image going right up to the frame edges?


There was a trend when digital photography first became popular for wacky borders, from multiple lines to ornate frames. Multiple lines are a big distraction, and just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it should be used. It could work on occasion, for example a stark graphic mono image with several alternating black and white mini borders, but it’s so much the exception. Over the top borders so draw attention from the image.


Talking of frames, why use an ornate classical looking gold frame for online images? I can understand that if you’re selling frames or framed prints and need to show them in context. I’m not saying don’t use one but for online viewing a cleaner look is better appreciated, and again remember you’ve limited screen space.

Photobooks are yet another area and really deserve to be treated separately as you’re into numerous layout options. Suffice to say that they are smaller in format so you have similar issues to screen size.

The important thing to remember is that it should be the image that takes centre stage and keeping presentation simple is the most effective way.

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021

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