Spring fashion – day 3

We have a cover photo – maybe.

For each special fashion edition of Florida magazine the most debated, discussed and sometimes over-thought decision is which photo will be on the cover. After two days of shooting, three models, and 24 rolls of 120 film, we have a strong candidate for this spring’s cover. But we are still reserving judgment.

There are two more models to be photographed tomorrow and we could find a better cover than the one I think we’ve got. But it’s a good feeling to know that we have something in hand going into the last day.

A cover photo is different from the rest of pictures we use in the magazine. There are some design concepts that have to be applied for the image to fit on the page. There needs to be enough “dead” space at the top of the photo for the magazine nameplate to print over. There also needs to be neutral areas in the body of the photo for a headline. If there is too much detail in these areas, you won’t be able to read the type.

Once that composition is considered, then the photo needs to be a simple photo with instant impact. It has to be a “quick read” to grab the reader’s attention and to invite them inside the magazine. The photo is both informational and a kind of sales gimmick.

The photo I think will make a great cover meets all these points. It is a photo a Nandini in a black, sheer dress with brightly colored butterflies. She is standing just behind a waist-high iron gate and sunlight filtered by overhanging trees paints a dappled pattern on her and the background. It’s very pretty and a bit alluring.

Debra, the art director, also likes the picture a lot. Jean, the fashion editor, likes it too but I can tell she still isn’t completely sold on the photo. She likes cover photos that are tightly cropped – another editor calls them “big head” covers – and the iron gate photo had a looser crop than we have traditionally used on the fashion covers. I think Jean is holding out from tomorrow’s shoot.

The final decision will belong to Debra. This is her first fashion cover as art director but she knows the history of photographers, fashion editors and art directors disagreeing on the covers. She also knows she has to be diplomatic because we all will work together again.

Tom Burton

originally published on February 25, 1998 on digitalstroyteller.com

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