Shooting landscape photography takes a lot of skill, and the best photographers have spent hours behind the camera, attempting to find that sometimes-elusive balance among content, lighting and composition. Creating a photograph for a magazine requires an additional understanding of exactly how that image will be used. No photo is more difficult to create than the “cover shot.” With the exception of those photographers who work for large publications, most photographers create images before they know where the image will be used. While an image might be spectacular, there are any number of things to take into account when considering a photo for the cover.
The most important of these is the placement of the magazine’s flag, which generally appears in the upper third of the page. In the rejected front cover image on the left, Show-Me Missouri’s banner becomes lost in the rays of the sunset—to the point that the word Missouri is barely visible. The second issue to consider is the ability to place text that persuades the reader to open the magazine. Show-Me Missouri generally uses one or two main text lines in the center of the page, with smaller listings of additional editorial content at the bottom. In the top photo, both the text in the middle and at the bottom becomes lost in the wildflowers that dominate the image. Quite frankly, the cover is just too busy. The third issue is the placement of the barcode, which is required for magazines that are sold at retail locations. The barcode can go in either the bottom left or right corner. Show-Me Missouri generally maintains a bottom left position for the barcode. This means that nothing vital to the image can appear in the bottom left. For mailed copies, a mailing label covers the barcode and takes up additional space.
The image below, which is the actual final cover for the Spring 2010 issue of Show-Me Missouri, addresses all three concerns. The sunset in the top center of the image does not affect the flag. The out of focus buttercups in the background make the title text easier to read, and the location of the barcode does not cover up anything vital to the photograph. ~Gary Figgins
Gary Figgins is owner and publisher of Show-Me Missouri, a statewide travel magazine that features Missouri travel destinations and attractions. Gary’s photographs fill the pages of this publication, often with beautiful double-page spreads featuring the outdoors. See http://www.showmemissouri.net/