Photography by design with Queensland’s Andrew Suggit

Published:  February 3, 2015

Following his discussion at last years Analogue/Digital Conference on type, composition and ‘designing a photograph’, we spoke to art director and designer Andrew Suggit about assembling the world’s features as if they were elements on a page.

Referencing his most recent photographic series, The Golden Sans Project is a documentation of the Gold Coast’s residential and urban signage that explores the concept of place through the lens of typography. Andrew looked to capture “type which has stood the test of time; type which has forged the identity of the Gold Coast, and type which is eternally etched into the memories of anyone who has spent time on the Gold Coast.”



The project was a documentation of the residential and urban signage with a distinct focus on composing imagery where type is the hero — this meant framing the word mark in a way that was legible and had a distinct focal point — “focusing on images as if they were double page spreads, signs as if they were words on a page, bricks as grids and shadows as depth.”

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At the same time, he’d also been documenting the east coast spotlighting the horizon. “This established a baseline, centre line, balance line and a focal line for imagery across the series. The minimal image content, coastal colour palettes; oceans, sand and skies, started to appear as graphic forms and inspiring print elements. Distinct colour blocks and focal points were creating balanced imagery.”


Composition: Frame the image like you were assembling elements on a page. You can’t change the components, so change your view. Don’t over complicate, then look for visual harmony.

Balance: Environmental symmetry. Offset a sky with an ocean, a mountain with a field.

Pattern: Repetition and minimal blocks. I work with the one third, two thirds theory.

Gestalt: “Acquiring and maintaining meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world,” the central principle of gestalt psychology being that the mind forms a global whole with self-organising tendencies.

Colour: Avoid strong contrast. Mist, salt haze and clouds are your best friends.


‘Designing a photograph’ involves establishing graphic patterns in the environment by finding colours and shapes that can form a compositional relationship. The beauty is that it can’t be forced. It’s either there, or it isn’t. Consideration from a spatial point of view enables you to find these elements that can be translated to print. It needs to feel comfortable, not confusing or contrived.


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