Back in the day, making a photo collage was all about grabbing your glue stick and scissors and pasting a random assortment of your favorite photos to a posterboard (which you would, of course, then hang in your locker).
But thanks to social media, today’s photo collages are pretty much 100% digital. And while creating a digital photo collage is certainly less time intensive than the old scissor-and-glue-stick approach, making a good photo collage? That can be a challenge.
But it doesn’t have to be! Let’s take a deep dive into how to make a beautiful photo collage that’s sure to rack up a crazy amount of likes on Instagram:
What is a photo collage?
Before we jump into how to make a good photo collage, let’s briefly cover what, exactly, a photo collage is.
A photo collage is an assortment of multiple photos assembled together in a visually impactful way to make a single image.
There are lots of different kinds of photo collages; Some have three photos, some have 30, some have borders, some don’t, some have “stickers” or graphics, some don’t, etc.—the only criteria is it has to be a collage of multiple photos (hence the title).
So, if you a) have multiple photos, and b) have the desire to bring those photos together to create one image (like a super photo!), you’ve hit the prerequisites for making a photo collage.
How to make a good collage
Alright, so now that we know what a photo collage is, let’s talk about how, exactly, to use design principles to use them in any type of design project you may have.
1. Choose your photos
First things first, before you can get started designing a photo collage, you need to choose which photos you want to feature.
There are no rules about what kinds of photos you can choose for a photo collage; you can include photos of yourself, photos of your friends or family, photos of nature—the sky’s the limit! But whatever photos you choose should be clear and easy to see; nothing ruins a photo collage more than blurry, unidentified photos.
If you want a cohesive final design for your photo collage, ideally you should choose photos with a similar color palette and saturation (if not, no worries; you can always add filters during the design and editing process to make things look more uniform).
2. Choose a layout
Once you’ve chosen your photos, it’s time to choose a layout.
There is an infinite number of ways to layout your photo collage, and the best layout is going to depend on what kind of collage you’re going to create.
Here are a few examples of photo collage layouts (and what kind of photo collage each layout is ideal for):
Sometimes, the most simple designs are also the most effective. A simple grid layout can be a great way to give equal attention to each photo. With a grid layout, each photo represents a square of the grid, and each square is of equal size.
Want to capture the clean simplicity of a grid layout in your photo collage? Canva has templates for that! Try grid-based photo collage templates like the Green Nature Photo Book Collage or the Simple Photo Plain Photo Collage Instagram Post.
Another great way to layout your photo collage is using horizontal rows or vertical columns. Using a row or column structure organizes your photos in a way that’s visually interesting but easy for your audience to scan. Just don’t go overboard; too many rows or columns can read more “visually overwhelming” than “visually interesting” (three to four is a good rule of thumb).
If you have one photo you want to take center stage in your photo collage, a layout that displays one photo prominently (which we like to call a “featured image photo collage”) is the way to go. This layout type has one photo visibly larger than the rest, which the rest of the photos in the collage taking a visual backseat. If you have one slam-dunk photo you want people to notice in your collage (like an epic nature shot), this layout is a great choice.
If you want a single image in your photo collage to take center stage, look for a photo collage template that features one photo more prominently than the others, like the Filtered Scenery Mood Board Photo Collage, the Simple Look of the Day Photo Collage, or the Turquoise and White Mood Board Photo Collage.
A little bit of everything
Some of the coolest photo collages out there are the ones that bring all the different layout elements into one design. That means a single collage can have elements of a grid layout, rows or columns, featured images, and other creative layout features (like interest angles, shapes, or photo placement).
These photo collages are often the most visually interesting, so if you want your collage to pack a visual punch, incorporating multiple elements is the way to go.
Incorporate the best elements of all the different layout options with Canva’s eclectic photo collage templates, like the Gold Peach Brown Mood Board Photo Collage or the Minimalist Mood Board Photo Collage.
3. Design principles to keep in mind when creating a good photo collage
Clearly, there are a lot of layout options to choose from when creating a good photo collage. But whatever layout you choose, there are a few design principles you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Balance. Your photo collage should have a clear sense of balance; so, for example, if you’re going to have four square photos, you can’t put all of them on the left side and leave the right side of the collage blank. Aim to place design elements evenly to create that sense of balance within the design.
- Alignment. Your photos don’t have to follow a straight line, but there does have to be a sense of alignment (if you use a grid, column, or row layout, you’ve got nothing to worry about—the alignment will take care of itself!).
- Proportion. Each element of your photo collage should be in proportion to the others; so, for example, if you have one large photo that really grabs people’s attention, the rest of the photos should be smaller in proportion.
- Add other design elements. When you’re creating a photo collage, the photos are (obviously) the stars of the show. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add other design elements! Incorporating typography, graphic, and other design elements add visual interest to photo collage designs—and makes them feel more unique and personalized.
Easily throw other design elements into the mix—like text, graphics, and backgrounds—with Canva’s photo collage templates, like the Black and White Current Mood Photo Collage, the Brown Couple Current Mood Photo Collage, or the Blue Simple Current Mood Photo Collage.
Photo collage ideas
Need of a little photo collage inspiration? Let’s dive into some photo collage ideas that will inspire your next collage—whether that’s for your office, your Instagram feed, or your middle school locker:
Wedding photo collage
As far as photo opportunities go, your wedding will probably take the cake as “most photos taken in a single day.” Between the newlyweds, the bridal party, the ceremony, and the reception, when all is said and done, you’ll probably have hundreds of photos of the big day. And one of the best ways to showcase those hundreds of photos? With a wedding-themed photo collage, of course?
Photo collages are a great way to relive your special day. Create the perfect wedding album in a single image with one of Canva’s wedding photo collage templates, like the Teal Wedding Photo Collage Wedding Announcement, the Gold Brown Photo Collage Wedding Announcement, or the Beige Floral Wedding Photo Collage.
Product photo collage
Photo collages are a great way to showcase personal photos—but they also work well for business. A photo collage is a great way to present new products in a visually impactful way, build buzz around a new product launch, and ultimately drive sales.
Let your products take center stage in your next photo collage with Canva’s photo collage templates, like the Pink and Yellow Pop Fashion Photo Collage, the Biker Girl Fashion Photo Collage, or the Pastel Boho Fashion Photo Collage.
Holiday photo collage
What better way to get in the holiday spirit than with a good photo collage? A holiday photo collage is a great way to showcase themed holiday photos, like Halloween photos, Christmas photos, or even summer vacation photos!
Capture the holiday spirit with a holiday photo collage template, like the Black Kids Halloween Themed Holiday Photo Collage, the Purple Christmas Balls Family Holiday Photo Collage, or the Summer Photo Holiday Card.
Nature photo collage
There’s nothing more awe-inspiring than nature. And there’s no more awe-inspiring way to display your epic nature shots than in a well-design nature photo collage. A photo collage is the perfect way to highlight your outdoor adventures—whether you’re skiing down a mountain, surfing an epic wave, or running through the forest (or all of the above!).
Got some nature shots you want to display? Get started with one of Canva’s photo collage templates, like the Nature Travel Collage Photo Facebook Post, the Minimalist Travel Plain Photo Collage Facebook Post or the Blue and White Travel Plans Photo Collage.
Get out there and get (photo) collaging!
Photo collages are a great way to display your favorite photos—both personal and professional. And now that you know exactly how to make a good photo collage, all that’s left to do is get out there and get collaging!