Photographic Backgrounds Part 5
5th edition — by Patrick McNeil — Dec. 17, 2007
The Design Element
In terms of sheer power to communicate the photographic background stands as perhaps one of the most powerful tools. These large dominant elements completely shape the mood of a site, and they speak volumes about the contents of the site. Such complex backgrounds inevitably force a simpler foreground, leaving even more of the weight of visual communication on this single element.
These backgrounds can be effectively used to communicate the purpose and topic of a site. Such is the case with sites like
. Both of these sites use the back ground to show the actual product. Tim's site turns the designer himself into the product by focusing on the individual. The huge background image communicates the purpose of the site; to sell this guys design services. I think he better be careful with that exacto knife sticking out of his pocket though!
A fine example of a mood oriented background image is
. This site is not only heavy on the mood side, but the entire design of the site is based on one large background image. I suppose you could even argue it isn't a background image. As complex as this site is, it is actually rather simple. No doubt, building that background image was no easy task. But it is really inspiring to see how incredible something easy to use can look.
A more conceptual example of this element which really appeals to me is
Napa Valley Drifters
. This simple background image could easily have been contained to a header block, or side line photo. Instead, the background reinforces the freedom and lack of boundaries one feels when floating along in a hot air balloon. The aesthetic created by this sites design couldn't possibly connect more effectively with the freedom experienced in such an adventure.