Layout Critique Success

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you all know what a success our first layout critique was! Everyone left some really great advice and I was just left to try and figure out what to implement. I didn't want to influence anyone with my own opinions on the layout before, but I'll share them now:

What I Liked

  • I loved the photo. Despite (or more likely because of) the weird angle, you can feel the emotion from this shot.
  • I liked the crops of different parts of the photo highlighting different things.
  • I liked the idea of a bold, vivid color scheme which I think complements the feeling of the photo.

What I Could Improve

  • Like on all my old layouts, the shadowing could really use an update. Also, some sort of indication of where, when, what.
  • The colors in the original photo are great. I'm not sure why I made them all black and white.
  • What's going on with the background? It wasn't until I opened up the old .PSD file that I realized I had overlayed the photo in the background as well. But you can't tell and it just looks a little weird.
  • I'm not sure about those swirls.

Old New

I found the original photo, tweaked it in Lightroom and determined that the whole photo should be emphasized in the new layout. Some people mentioned the white background of the collage being distracting, and eating up the photos, and I agree. In the original layout you can't even tell that the whole photo is there (top left corner of the collage). I pulled the photos out of the collage and tweaked the b&W version to be the same (that's how I changed the color of my shirt in the original, just by playing with the slider in the B&W conversion). I made the background black to be simple and help the photos pop and added a little color behind the photos. The swirls were overwhelming on the black background so I tucked them up in the corners to frame everything. Finally I wanted to add a some sort of text to the layout, but anything I could think of seemed to kind of tip the emotive picture into extreme cheesy. So in the end I just put a little location and date and then ran the lyrics from a song in the background, so you aren't overwhelmed with emotion ;).

I think I'm pretty happy with how the layout turned out. I wonder if perhaps it's a little minimal, but that may just be my inner pack-rat demanding more stuff. Since the photos are the thing, I wanted them more or less to stand on their own.

This process was pretty exciting for me. It was great to see everyone's comments, so much so that I was inspired into redoing a layout that I wouldn't have thought twice about before. It was great to take the focus off of getting a layout done and really stop and think about why I was doing something and what I wanted to make happen. Perhaps not a method for all the time, but definitely an exercise I would like to repeat.

All that being said I would strongly recommend you to submit a layout for critique. You don't have to commit to a redo like I did, but I think you will be pleased with whatever comes out of the process. Jordan and I are thinking about making this critique process a more permanent part of the site somehow, but for now we have to prove that other people besides me are interested in it. Please submit your layout to


Recent Comments

Engela Edwards
Engela Edwards Sat, 03/16/2013 - 14:14

Where I can appreciate the first effort, I love the redo. It puts the photos forefront, and for me that is what is most important. Great, large, color photos on a black background is timeless and lets the photos shine through. There is just enough "extra elements" on the page to put your stamp on it without distracting from the photo. But minimalism is my my style, so it would naturally appeal to me. There is enough action in the photo, and it tells a story, so I feel that very little embellishment in needed. The main photo is now larger which I like. I like the way, that the smaller cropped photos then lead the eye artistically around to what I would call "moments within the moment." The first attempt looks like a scrapbook page, which works because that is what it is. But the second attempt, could be printed, framed, and hung on the wall. Great job.

Olivia Lee
Olivia Lee Wed, 03/13/2013 - 13:04

Really like the redo! Colors really pop - the old background, while great, just was too busy!
This is the thing I find best about digital scrapbooking... don't like something - redo it!

Dawn Evans
Dawn Evans Mon, 03/11/2013 - 10:12

I love the re-do. The coloured edges and little hearts beautifully balance the main picture and the coloured swirls on the corners of the black are just right. I am going to take another look at some of my "oddly" cropped or angled photos as this looks so effective here!

Melissa Bechtloff
Melissa Bechtloff Sat, 03/09/2013 - 10:25

i love the new look. the colours of the photos just pop now

Beth Bayer
Beth Bayer Sat, 03/09/2013 - 01:36

I love that you and Jordan look sooooo in love. xoxox Beth

Allison Jensen
Allison Jensen Fri, 03/08/2013 - 13:45

love the layout can't wait to try it.

Melo Vrijhof
Melo Vrijhof Fri, 03/08/2013 - 11:38

Great job! This layout looks very cohesive and the colored photo really stands out now against the black background. I love how you kept all the elements, just a bit more subtle than before. You have a really nice flow going here; starting with the big picture in the left upper corner and ending with a smile; the cute little colored hearts in the opposite corner. Love it!

Janet Hull
Janet Hull Fri, 03/08/2013 - 11:10

Marisa, love what you have done in the re-do! Love that you brought back some of the photos to color - the pop of color is all in the right places. I really like the bigger photo, the background enhances you and Jordan in the forefront. Although I love the swirls in the first one putting them just on the corners makes this a really elegant LO! I really love the colorful off center mats for the photos. I like your smaller photos overlapping the larger photo - brings a lot of interest and pulls me right in! The dark background is fabulous!

Meridy Reeve
Meridy Reeve Fri, 03/08/2013 - 08:21

Nice! I'm totally drawn into the photos now, and I love that you put the color back into a few of the photos. The little photo I suggested you take out, I like it with color. That made a big difference!

Harriett Humphries
Harriett Humphries Fri, 03/08/2013 - 07:33

Fantastic redo. The photos really shine now. But I still like the exuberance of the original background too.

Liz Wiff
Liz Wiff Fri, 03/08/2013 - 05:15

I think both layouts are lovely. As someone who never saw the original post, I have to say I was more struck today by the 're-do'. I have recently found myself drawn more to minimalist (but not boring!) layouts that keep the focus on the photos and/or the story- not how much I can cram on a page. But, as a fellow packrat, there are definitely times where I can't handle the white space and load it up! Lol. Anywho, I love who the photos pop off the black background, but there is still a lot of visual interest. Thanks for the inspiration!

Diane Minton
Diane Minton Fri, 03/08/2013 - 04:22

Although I did not originally comment, the result of the comments from others is stunning! It is so interesting. The odd angle makes it so unusual and the layout is now just gorgeous! Congrats on a beautiful new layout!

Lana Fischer
Lana Fischer Fri, 03/08/2013 - 02:50

Wow Marisa..your new layout is just beautiful!! Like you said the angle of the photo sets it off and the black and red colors look like love to me! I really like the swirls in this one. You did a wonderful job!!