How can photography enhance design?

Inspired by today’s opening of photography exhibition Photo London at Somerset House, we ask designers about their favourite uses of photography within design projects.

Angela Drinkall, co-founder, Drinkall Dean
Angela Drinkall, co-founder, Drinkall Dean

“We were privileged to work alongside photographer Marc Atkins and graphic designer Chris Bigg on a temporary exhibition at the Museum of London. The exhibition title, ‘Doctors Dissection and the Resurrection Men‘ was implicit. We asked Marc to help give context and evoke atmosphere. Given the subject and Marc’s soaring imagination and appreciation of the macabre results, life-sized photographs of graveyards and mortuaries were beautiful, ‘scratchy’, mysterious and spine tingling. The objects set against these alluring back-drops came to life… so to speak.”


Phil Carter, co-founder, Carter Wong Design
Phil Carter, co-founder, Carter Wong Design

“As I’m a great believer in taking a brief and doing something totally unexpected with it, it was a real joy to see the cookbook ‘Homemade is Best’ created for IKEA recently, although sadly I’ve yet to see it in the flesh. Having worked with Forsman & Bodenfors many years ago when we shared the same Swedish client, it came as no surprise to discover that they had created this exceptional publication. Rather than toe the conventional line showing finished cakes and the like, they instead opted to portray 30 classic Swedish baking recipes in a visually unique and spectacular way. Inspired by Japanese minimalism, the idea of the book was to place the emphasis on the ingredients, shot in a wonderfully simplistic manner, artfully and individually arranged on a series of warm coloured backgrounds. The result? A cookbook with photography like no other, based on a graphic idea like no other, for a client like no other. A brilliant example of creating the unexpected to help, in this instance, sell IKEA’s kitchen appliances, from a very confident client and creative agency.”


Professor Lawrence Zeegen, dean of the School of Design, London College of Communication
Professor Lawrence Zeegen, dean of the School of Design, London College of Communication

“It could be argued that Klaus Voormann’s use of photography in this iconic sleeve design for Revolver, a first foray into the psychedelic for The Beatles, is strictly a montage of photographic and hand-drawn illustrative elements – but this would take away from just how influential this iconic image remains today. Revolver, released almost 50 years ago, remains aurally and visually as fresh as it did on the day of release – 5 August 1966. Voormann, musician, designer and friend to the band, avoided the West Coast colour palette of psychedelia for the stripped back, pared down aesthetic of black and white – capturing the music, the mood and the moment perfectly.”


Nick Eagleton, UK creative director, The Partners
Nick Eagleton, UK creative director, The Partners

“The photograph: The name Joe sprayed on a London bollard. The design: Studio Myerscough’s business card for architectural historian Joe Kerr. The photo and the card are both so unassuming, so ordinary, but together they are inspired. It took open eyes and an open mind to see this perfect connection. I have always loved the absolute purity and simplicity of this one humble card. Their reward: a yellow pencil at D&AD in 1998. My reward: walking past this very bollard for years as I turned the corner into my road. Here’s to Joe.”

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