Using Pages to Do More with Your Photos

by Charlie Miller

With the recent release of iLife 08 and iWork 08, I thought I’d spend a little time sharing how I use Pages to create layouts with my photographs. I’ve been using Pages as my full-time word processor for a long time now, and iWork 08 has brought a few welcome changes, including dedicated word processing and page layout modes and a context-sensitive Format Bar. But it’s probably the new layout templates that are most exciting for anyone that uses Pages as a quick design tool — and for photographers, the poster and flyer templates are potentially the most useful.


Next time you have a few minutes to experiment, try creating a quick poster or flyer in Pages using one or more of your favorite photographs from Aperture:

Launch Pages and from the template dialog, click on Posters. You’ll see a handful of pre-designed and customizable templates in a variety of different design styles. For our example, I’ll choose the new Movie Poster Small template and click Choose. Pages opens a new document based on our template, and ready to be customized with our photograph and text.


In order to get our photograph from Aperture into Pages, we’ll need to access the Media Browser: from the View menu choose Show Media Browser. Click the Photos tab in the Media Browser and you should see your entire Aperture library — Projects and Albums intact. Choose a favorite image and drag and drop it onto the placeholder image in our Pages layout. You can modify your photo’s placement a few ways. Single-click on the photo to bring up the Edit Mask HUD which allows you to zoom in or out on your photo. Double-click on your image and your cursor will change to the familiar hand icon, allowing you to move the image within its mask.

Editing the text is easy: just click and type. But here’s a neat tip for customizing your layout’s colors: click on a colored object in your layout — in my example, I’ll use the large red color block at the bottom of the poster. To change the red color to something that looks smarter with your photo, click the new Fill square in Pages’ Format Bar. You could simply click one of the existing color swatches, but instead, let’s click on Show Colors to bring up the Colors Palette.



Try using the Colors Palette’s eyedropper tool (the one that looks like a magnifying glass) to sample a color directly from your photo. In my example below, I sampled the burgundy color of the car’s paint, and then used the color wheel to select a contrasting color from across the wheel. I also deleted some of the template text, and moved my title text down a bit. Not bad for a few minutes of work.

Now, a little sidebar information based on some questions I’ve received in the past. When you drag and drop your photograph from the Media Browser into Pages (or any other iLife/iWork application), you are placing that photo’s JPEG preview into whatever project you’re working on. There is no link between that JPEG and the image in Aperture, so if you make adjustments to that image in Aperture, you’ll need to re-drag it into your iLife/iWork project.


Before and after: the original template on the left, and my custom layout on the right.


2007-08-24 15:51:42
Does Pages '08 deal with ICC profiles yet?

I ask because the '07 version doesn't, I forget exactly but it seemed to convert some images to my screen's space (perhaps when resized) and some not. At least by the time it embedded them into the PDF that's what had happened.

2007-08-24 18:21:54
you don't have to use the media browser. Everyone always makes sure to mention it, but to me it seems so anti mac-like. We all use macs because they're easier, drag & drop works! Well, provided you have previews of the photos in your Aperture Library, you can just drag the thumbnails or whatnot straight out of the Aperture window and put them where you want. I NEVER, EVER EVER use the damned media browser. It's a tool of a tool ;-).

It's only there to ease the transition of windows converts who aren't yet willing to accept that drag & drop is quick, easy, efficient, and intuitive. I mean, I guess it's OK if you're not working in the iMedia Apps, as you then don't have to start them up to get to the files, but c'mon... if you're having this idea, you probably had it with Aperture open, so it'd just be one more needless palette open, taking up space. And I'd rather view my potential project images at slightly larger than 40x40 pixels (exaggerating of course).

2007-08-26 13:40:43
I would have to agree with anthony on the media browser. The one glaring limitation that the media browser suffers from is that it assumes that all of your photos are in a single iPhoto or Aperture library. In fact, when you open the media browser it just looks at the photos in the last opened iPhoto library. Some people like to keep separate libraries for various reasons.
random bob, a.r.c.
2007-08-26 17:20:37
Finally! Someone agrees with me ;-)
Charlie Miller
2007-08-27 06:58:40
Anthony, you make a good point that drag-and-drop is a nice alternative to the Media Browser. If you're comfortable combining drag-and-drop with the Application Switcher or Exposé, you'll have a lot of flexibility moving your photos to other apps.

In my experience, it's the beginner Aperture users that are just starting out that find the Media Browser to be a real strength. Being able to launch an iLife app and see your Aperture library complete with Projects and Albums is a real "wow" moment for new users.

Also, a tip: new to iLife '08 is the ability to customize the Media Browser's display. Try right-clicking (or Control-clicking) on an image in the browser to access the new "Display as List" view. You can view your images as a list including information such as size, date, dimensions, and kind.

random bob, a.r.c.
2007-08-27 09:00:02
I think that regular drag&drop with exposé (or just having things spaced well on your screen) is more than just an alternative to the Media Browser, I think it's the better way.

What gets at me is that no one mentions that it's possible, which sort of skirts one of the BEST reasons people should be using a Mac - Intuitive design. And in that vein, I disagree that "newbies" have any WOW moments using the media browser; it's a windows tool. Windows users are plenty used to having to click something in the menu to bring up a navigation tool to get to the things that are otherwise sitting on their computer somewhere.

You want to WOW them? Mention that if they simply drag a thumbnail out of the aperture library they can drop it anywhere and POOF! that's where it will land. No browsers, no small-ish previews, you can actually use the tool you're already using (picture editor/manager) to get at the photos therein. No need for ANOTHER tool/palette/window.

I mean, that's Mac's intuitiveness at work - you see the pics there, drag them from there to where you want them. Having to open a "Media Browser" from within another program to get the files that are in ANOTHER PROGRAM is NOT intuitive, it's windows-esque. Which is why I mentioned it's there to ease the transition of windows converts in the iLife apps. Intuitively, you want to pull aperture pics out to put into Pages, you pull aperture pics out of aperture and put then in Pages (the Apple MO), not "Close aperture, open pages, go to 'View>Show Media Browser,' click on aperture library, scan 42x42 pixel thumbnails in the Media browser order, try to select the right one (that you had open in Aperture anyways), then select. (the windows MO)"

It's a convert tool because you "drag" out of that window. The next step is the WOW moment, when you accidentally discover you can just drag it right out of where it REALLY IS.

Jon T
2007-09-01 03:26:20
Well, I think Media browser is a useful tool. Quick and easy access to your libraries, especially if you don't have huge desktop real estate is very handy. I use it happily ever day and I see little about it that is Windowsesque. It is fast and intuitive, something Windows never is...
2007-11-08 10:56:09
I am having a problem with pages & aperture. I launch the media browser, and only about 1/8 of my photos have thumbnails, all the rest are greyed out boxes. If i try to drag those images into a pages document, i get a question mark, and no success. Is this a problem with raw images? Is there a simple solution?