In this digital infographic for Comcast Business, the topic informed our entire design from the very beginning. Almost as soon as we learned that the title of the piece would be “Recruiting and Retention,” our design team pictured a carefree road trip with millennial-age hitchhikers. The hitchhikers would represent job seekers looking for a job (a ride) on the road of life. They’d remain in the car as long as the trip was fun and satisfying—this was the retention aspect.
From that first vision, the infographic eventually turned into a scrapbook of memories from the road trip: photographs, notes, and coasters, tacked to a bulletin board, that told the story of “recruiting and retention.” Then we created illustrations that fit in with the scrapbook theme, including sketch/chalk style charts and a coaster wtih money artwork. In this case, having a central theme made it easy to choose photographs and illustrations.
This infographic that we did for Lenovo, a manufacturer of computers and smartphones, is another example of using photography to carry a theme.
This time, a small business that was featured in the infographic became the inspiration for the design. After we interviewed Lee and Eva Kerfoot about their business, Kerfoot Canopy Tours (KCT), a Minnesota-based zip-line company, we knew that zip-lines would have to be a central part of this infographic.
A good infographic is a marriage between copy and design; we believe this so strongly that we’ve written an entire blog post about it. After conferring with our design team, our writer decided to use zip-line-inspired language throughout the piece—working to keep the copy fun without becoming too hokey. Then the copy in each section informed the images that were eventually chosen. So “Get Horizontal” featured a zip-line rider stretched out like Superman, while “Go Mobile, Go Global” featured a shot of a zip-line rider taking a selfie.
On top of integrating zip-line focused photography and illustration, our designer had a further challenge. Lenovo’s branding guidelines called for a spare color palette, relying heavily on black and red. By using black-and-white photographs, interspersed with blocks of red (featuring graphs), our designer was able to convey the bold sophistication of the brand while still carrying the zip-line metaphor through each header.
The result? A zip-tastic experience that pulled off a metaphor in both language and design.
Using Photographs as Backgrounds
Another way we like to use photography in our infographics is to use a picture as a backdrop for text. The trick here is to find a photograph that complements, or relates to, the meaning of the text—without overwhelming the text or making it difficult to read.
This infographic that we did for Comcast Business is a great example.
In this infographic, there is no central theme that ties all of the images together. Instead, we used a photograph for each section header. Each photograph related directly to the copy that was written in the headline.
Thus, “Go Mobile” is written on a smartphone backdrop; “Don’t Leave Dollars on the Table” is laid out on top of a boardroom table; and “Be A Showoff” appears onstage at a rock concert.
Lacking a central theme, this infographic is held together visually by the consistency of its sections: each section features a header with a central photograph, two graphs illustrated in the same style, followed by concrete tips.
Pulling photography into your infographic designs can make your pieces feel fresh and dynamic—but don’t overdo it. Remember that the primary mission of the infographic is to tell a story using statistics and visuals. Photography should help enhance that story—without overwhelming or overshadowing it. Keep the story front and center, make sure that the brand supports this style, and watch your photography-mixed infographics come alive.