Leaving copy space in photographs, blank areas where designers can add titles and text can improve your sales.
Many years ago, when the only things that were digital were your fingers or your watch, I won a photographic magazine’s cover girl competition. Not me personally you understand – one of my photographs.
A couple of weeks later an excited young photographer and his girlfriend, who just happened to be the scantily clad subject of the winning photograph, arrived at a posh, Hyde Park Lane, hotel for the prize giving. I don’t remember much about the event apart from one rather disparaging comment from the editor. “Your picture won because you were the only one who left space for the title.” This was probably not the most tactful thing to say to an aspiring young photographer about his first competition win.
I did not know at the time but I was going to hear some very odd things from editors; “I like your work because you make the backs of womens’ knees look good.” “Your pictures are so much better than the guy I’m using at the moment but he is free and you charge,” being two of the strangest.
Over a hundred book and magazine covers later, “You won because you left space for the title” turned out to be good advice. As photographers we strive to create a well composed image which often means tightly cropped. At the time of my competition win the only way to create space around an image was to step back or change lenses. Photographers usually carried several prime (fixed focal length) lenses in their bag (zoom lenses existed but were mostly horrible optically).
For those of you under forty; we also established the correct exposure using a light meter. Sometimes one built in to the camera, but often a handheld Weston. Oh and you advanced the film by pushing a lever which also cocked the mechanical shutter. If you wanted to make a phone call you had to find a red box and have some change handy.
Leaving space for a title caption or other text is still good advice. Not just space but blank space. Plain blue sky, sand and other plain backgrounds are all useful to designers. They can simply plonk the desired text on the image. If they need more space, the image is relatively easy to extend in editing software.
The picture library Alamy even encourages you to use the keywords ‘copy space’ when appropriate in your images. Here’s a couple of their posts on the subject.