Become a photo editor…fast.

“Any photo editors in here?” he asked.

Silence.

“Good.”

And that was good for a reason. Jeff Neumann’s presentation was focused on how to edit photos when you come from design. Neumann, the lead designer at the Denver Post, provided a great list of tips and tricks for those who aren’t professionally trained in photo editing at his session, titled “Photo editing for designers,” on Saturday morning.

As designers, we deal with all the visuals. However, the photo jargon is lost on some people. Neumann’s presentation was filled with not only quick information that you could use tonight, but also information on improving your publication visually as a whole.

Neumann said originally his bosses had enlisted the photo editor of the Post to give this presentation. However, after discussing it as a group, they realized this was not the job for a photo professional, but a job for a person who, because of the work they do, had to become a photo professional…fast.

Some of the info I found most valuable was also the most basic. How do you choose the right photo for your page? He gave a few specific tips:

-Drama: more to the story than just that frame

-Action: needs to have something before and something after

-Emotion: connect intimately with the reader, use faces

-Unusualness: different things will get people to look

-Emphasis: show what’s really important

-Artistic quality: is it a good photo?

But, for as much as we love good photos, we have some problem ones. Some of the biggest problems Neumann highlighted:

-Type in photos: whether on the actual photo or in the background at a sporting event, it draws away attention

-“Hitchcock horizons”: crop your horizons to be straight. It will make the reader less queasy.

-People holding photos…of people: “they become a prop”

One of what could be considered the most essential things a designer should know is how to pick out photo packages. Keep in mind, you need to have three parts: long-range, medium, and close up.

Long-range photos set the stage. They show the reader where you are. Medium photos provide action and interesting things about the story. They are the “meat.” And close-up photos are the “spice of the subject.” They invade personal space and give you color.

Neumann let the attendees in on a tool that everyone can use—and should use: Cropping. Reframing shots can truly, truly improve a photo. In terms of sports, he said to “crop, then crop again.” It is, however, something that needs to be done with the photographer. No photographer wants to glance at the page the next day and see a completely different photo.

He left attendees with some wise parting words that bring it back to the basics: “A good photo makes you stop, look and think.”

Neumann also provided all 35 pages of his document on photo editing for designers on his website at jeff-neumann.com/papers6. Definitely check it out ASAP.