As smartphone technology improves and our online visual literacy increases, you don’t need a degree in graphic design to recognise an aesthetically pleasing image. Good photography is all about composition, how different elements are arranged within a frame. That same principle can be (very successfully!) applied to PowerPoint design.

PowerPoints are designed to support presentations, but sometimes their creative potential can be overlooked. We’ve all sat through a bad PowerPoint at some point in our working lives – each slide cluttered with text and indistinguishable from the next, or hard to follow with clashing colours and too many images. When you start thinking about each slide in your PowerPoint deck as a frame, you’ve taken the first step on your journey to creating a compelling presentation.

Here are five rules of photography you can follow to make your next PowerPoint a visual masterpiece:

FRAMING AND NEGATIVE SPACE

When designing a PowerPoint, we naturally tend to create frames within the ‘frame’ of the slide itself. From text boxes and graphs to images and logos, we outline certain elements to differentiate them from the background and ensure that we draw the audience’s attention.

In photography, you can choose to either fill the frame completely to focus on a particular subject, or leave negative space for a minimalistic effect. In PowerPoint, we can achieve the same effect by leaving room around the text or image, simplifying the composition like in the example below. As businesses tend to utilise minimalism in their visual design, using negative space will instantly make your presentation look more modern and professional.

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

RULE OF THIRDS

You’ve probably already heard about the rule of thirds and its importance in the world of photography and filmmaking. Smartphone camera settings will often include the option to display this nine-rectangle grid, allowing users to experiment with creative compositions.

The rule of thirds states that by dividing images into nine equal segments with two vertical and two horizontal lines, and by placing important elements at the intersection of two or more of these lines, you can create a more balanced and visually interesting frame like the example below. So, if you normally centre your slides, experiment with placing elements slightly off-centre instead. You might just discover that you prefer it that way!

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

LEADING LINES

Having overly cluttered images can confuse your audience as they search for, and fail to find, a point of focus. One way to counter this in photography is to lead them visually through your frame using leading lines.

When we look at a PowerPoint slide or an image, our eyes are naturally drawn along lines, whether they be straight, diagonal, curved or zigzag. Because we read left-to-right, and presentation slides often include text, this tendency is heightened. You can make use of this in your PowerPoint design, drawing your audience in using leading lines like the slide below, and directing their attention across the frame.

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

SYMMETRY

Although we encourage you to play around with the rule of thirds and leading lines to construct visually striking frames, depending on your topic and audience you may want to stick with tradition and centre your slides like the one below.

Luckily, there’s just something about a symmetrical image that pleases the eye. But symmetry goes beyond centring the text on each slide. Any bullet points you use should be equally spaced, the font style consistent, and the images related by theme or colour palette in order to create an impressively balanced and organised PowerPoint design.

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

COLOUR COMPOSITION

Colour theory already informs basic PowerPoint etiquette, as we try to avoid using sharply contrasting or bright colours that might strain people’s eyes or trigger headaches. Sometimes work presentations are limited in their colour palette by the established style guidelines of the company, but if you have a bit of creative freedom then colour is one of the most effective ways to capture and retain audience attention.

If you’re not sure which colours complement each other, let us introduce you to your friendly neighbourhood colour wheel. Beloved by graphic designers, artists, photography enthusiasts, and interior designers alike, a colour wheel is an effective tool for finding colours which work well together, also known as colour harmony. Check out some examples of colour harmony below.

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

photography, How Photography Informs PowerPoint Design

Don’t have time to design the perfect presentation? All the examples above are taken from our collection of beautifully designed PowerPoint templates to suit any brand and formatted for a variety of presentation types. All you need to do is incorporate your content and messaging for a convenient PowerPoint solution. Swap bland built-in templates for creative brilliance with a little help from Synapsis!

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