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LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Analyze the main points of a picture story layout.

The picture story layout (also addressed in Chapter 12) is a special challenge to a layout editor. A good picture story is a logical, well-organized, self-contained unit in which each part has a specific function.

The format used to layout the picture story depends on space limitations and what you, as the layout artist, consider the most attractive arrangement. With an imaginative photographer, the number of interesting picture stories your publication can produce are unlimited. Once you have been provided with a variety of interesting, action-packed pictures suitable for reproduction, the layout is up to you. Let your experience and good judgment be your guide in determining the arrangement of pictures, headlines, cutlines, text and borders.

A good picture story layout (fig. 8-20) can add immeasurable y to the interest and attractiveness of your publication. Like feature stories, picture stories can be made up in advance and used as either regular attractions or to spice up occasional issues.

In the following text, we cover the major points of assembling a picture story.


The number of pictures required to make up a picture story depends on the importance and complexity of the subject. However, an odd number of photographs should be used in a double-truck layout. The term double truck, also called a centerfold, is used for a two-page layout made up as one page, with the "gutter," or normal margin between the two pages, eliminated.


The most important picture of any picture story is the one that opens the story - the lead picture. This picture has a double function. First, it must attract the reader's attention and make that person want to know more about the subject. For that reason it should be the largest in your picture story. Second, it must show the subject and theme of the story in a graphically interesting form.

Almost as important as the lead picture is the last picture. The closing picture should show the reader the significance of the subject to the storyline or theme.


The body, which shows important scenes of the subject in action, must be varied and lively in visual rendition and presentation. To provide this variety and liveliness in a story, the photographer should start with a good script, excellent change of pace in coverage techniques and a quick eye for unexpected developments during actual shooting. By careful study of major picture magazines, photographers, as well as layout artists, can gain a great deal of insight into the type of pictures being used in picture story assignments.


Some photographs, because of their compositional direction, are natural right-hand or left-hand photographs. This means that the photograph is a natural to be used on the right or left side of a page, photo display or picture layout. Picture stories are viewed in the same manner in which we read, from left to right. Therefore, the lead photograph should be one that has the subject facing toward the viewer's right and the ending photograph facing toward the viewer's left. When possible, all lead and ending photographs should be taken twice: once with a left-hand direction and again with a right-hand direction. By duplicating these shots, you provide flexibility for layout. All photographs have direction: left, right, upward, downward, straight in or straight out of the page.


Headlines, cutlines and text have double functions. First, they give the reader facts that supplement the pictures editorially. Second, they serve graphically as elements of composition that contribute to the organization of the picture story.


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