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Five Ways to Use Mugs Shots More Creatively in Newsletter Design

Say Cheese! with Pictures of People

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Chances are if you do newsletter design for a club, business, or other organization you do or will someday use photographs, especially mug shots. Photos are great. A good photograph can greatly enhance your newsletter design. But what do you do if the photographs you have to work with are a mixed bag of fuzzy faces and boring buildings? If you can't control the camerawork, you can control the end product — the way you use photos in your newsletter or other publication.

Newsletters are most often for and about people. People usually like to see themselves in print. They enjoy reading about themselves and their friends; and, they like to see pictures of themselves and people they know. Most of us feel that way (whether we admit it or not).

Because not all publications can afford professional photographers, the most typical people photograph is the mug shot — a more or less straight into the camera head and shoulders picture.

You may find little consistency among the mug shots you see. You'll probably have a mix of studio portraits and instant camera candids. Most of these poses lack any kind of action. Action equals interest. It's the pose that is the problem.

Barring other methods of adding life and action to your newsletter design, I've assembled several illustrated quick tips on how to improve those obligatory head shots and smiling faces: sizing, various graphic additions, and collages. Try 'em out and let me know what you think.

  1. Resize Mug Shots for Uniformity. Be consistent in photo size. Crop your photos so that the head or head and shoulders in each photo occupies about the same space.

  2. Use Frames and Borders Around Photos. Plain, solid lines or something fancier can frame your photos. Be consistent.

  3. Create a Photo Chain or Group with Rules. Connect a row or column of photos with rule lines.

  4. Create New Graphic Elements with Photos and Rules. Make a rule line (or series of them) a part of the image.

  5. Create a Photo Collage. When cropping and resizing for uniformity won't work, pull the disparate mug shots together into a collage.

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