Placing text over a full-size photo is a standard way to create a title slide. But by being everyone’s go-to method, it’s forgettable. Instead, use a photographic triptych: three tall photos spanning the slide.
Here’s a real-life example, the title slide from my most recent presentation:
I have attended hundreds of scientific talks. Of these, two had particularly memorable title slides. One was memorable for the wrong reasons. The other used the three-panel format above. Immediately upon seeing this design, I knew I would be using it every time I gave a talk. It is simple, elegant, and in my case a chance to display the glamorous side of Arctic oceanography.
Pick three related photos
The three photos in a triptych need to be somehow related. In the example above, I use three seascapes with the horizons aligned. Here are other possibilities (with hypothetical titles for good measure):
Three photos of the same thing
A single panorama cut into three
Photos at three subsequent times or distances
Pay attention to the details
Let the photos bleed: Do not leave a margin between the photos and the edge of the slide.
Make the photos big: Let the photos take up two-thirds of the slide. This still leaves ample space for a title and details.
Pick a complementary text colour: In all examples, the text matches a predominant or feature colour taken from the photos.
Use narrow gaps: The examples above use the following dimensions: