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How to Marry Text and Images + Free Type-Ready Photos

We know visual communication increases understanding and performs better than plain-text messages—especially on social media where visuals are even prioritized over text in newsfeed algorithms. But simply slapping copy on a pretty picture defeats the purpose of increasing the impact of your words and can lead readers to become distracted or misunderstand. So how do you stand out in a sea of text over images? It’s all about finding the right photo for your text and creating optimal image-to-copy relationships with smart graphic design choices.

We’ve teamed up with Unsplash, a free stock photo service,—now available in Spark‘s photo search—to curate fantastic type-ready images. And here we’re breaking down design decisions that can turn the right photos into perfect vehicles for your message. Read on for tips on pairing image and copy and browse from over 300,000 new free images available in Spark Post courtesy of Unsplash. Be sure to check out the full collection of type-ready photos on Spark’s Unsplash collection!

Related: Join our live design workshop for non-designers! Sign up here!

Choose photos with open space.

A busy background will compete with your text and hinder legibility—one of the cardinal sins of graphic design. Choose images with minimalist compositions and loads of open space where your text can shine.

Photo by Natalie Toombs on Unsplash

Assess images for subject matter relevance.

Just as you don’t want the visual elements in the photo to compete for attention, you don’t want the subject matter of the photo to work against your message. Likewise, if your message is light and fun, your imagery should reflect that with bold, bright compositions. If your tone is more somber, subdued darker imagery likely works better. If you’re developing visual content to support abstract ideas, you might decide on a neutral visual theme (such as nature imagery or color gradients). Or you could leverage abstract photography to reinforce the tone of your content.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Avoid images that will compete for focal points.

Focal points are important cues to the reader on where their eyes should go first and are integral to establishing hierarchy in your designs. When considering a photo for your words, identify the focal point of the photo (Hint: It’s likely the first thing you notice about the image) and consider ways your text can interact with that focal point via color, font, shape, or positioning. Use the photo’s focal point to guide your design. A photo with too many focal points is likely too busy to carry text, unless that somehow reinforces your message.

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

In this design, the text and photo share a focal point, making the text shine. There’s nice color-type relationship to boot.

Look for ways the image can frame your words.

If you want your words to be the star, look for imagery that can frame text in interesting ways. Positioning your text in relation to your photo is key to creating a strong bond between image and text and a balanced composition, a principle of good design.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Here the focal point of the image becomes part of the message. Now that’s a happy image-to-text marriage!

Create type and image relationships with color.

An easy and effective way to create a strong image-text relationship is to leverage the colors of your photo in your type. Spark Post makes this easy by suggesting color palettes based on the background photo, while the custom color picker allows you to perfectly match text to shades in your photo.

Photo by Justin Follis on Unsplash
Photo by Justin Follis on Unsplash

The text matches the woman’s shirt, while the backing pattern mirrors the man’s sweater. #matchymatchy

Allow the image to influence the message.

The creative process isn’t always linear. You might have a perfect line of copy that drives your image search, or you could let browsing images in your brand’s aesthetic be your content starting point. What words do Unsplash’s evocative photos inspire in you?

Photo by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

Now your turn! Turn these type-ready Unsplash photos into your next Adobe Spark design. Create from one of the graphics above or start from scratch. Share your creations on Instagram with #typeready @adobespark @unsplash in the caption and we’ll re-share our favorites on @madewithunsplash and @adobespark.


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