Chapter 5: Photography

A century ago, photography was something special, something exclusive enjoyed only by the select few who could afford it. There were no portable cameras (at least not in the sense we think of “portable” now), developing photos was a very specialized process, and we were still using plates rather than film.

In the mid-20th century, all of that changed. Cameras became more commonplace. Film was affordable, as was developing said film, and many families had cameras. There was no turning back from there.

Now, just about everyone in the western world has a camera of some sort, often on their smartphone. Photography has become democratized, accessible to just about anyone. The popularity of sites like Flickr only further supports this idea. (Flickr currently hosts well over five billion photos, and it’s not even the largest photo-sharing site.)

Considering the ubiquity of the photograph, it would be a shame not to tap into this medium for inspiration for your designs. After all, there are photography styles and subjects to suit just about any design project, and there’s a wealth of potential imagery to draw from.

The most obvious way to use a photograph for inspiration is to incorporate the actual image into your design, most commonly done in either a header or the background image. Big backgrounds can create a unique look for an otherwise-minimalist site. But there’s a wealth of other possible ideas in many photos, from textures and patterns to color schemes ...

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