Behind the Scenes: Shooting a Magazine Cover

CoverShot.jpgWe’re at it again. One thing that I knew, but never really had put in context, is that magazines work in the future. Sure I’ve run into it many times when submitting articles and being involved in photo shoots, but it didn’t set in until I started working here on a daily basis. Talk about messing with your head! It’s January and we are now working on the June 2007 issue.

The cover shot is the order of the day. Where we are in beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio, it is the middle of winter. It hasn’t been a particularly bad winter. We’ve had no huge snowstorms or blizzards, but there is snow on the ground. In fact there were flurries in the air on this very day.

Perhaps you see where this is going? We are shooting a summertime picture in the dead of winter. How do you do that? Excellent photographic manipulation along with a few strategically placed props is the answer.

The picture above right is the cover shot we were going for, at least one of three possible cover shots that will be presented to our readers after Art Director Linda Watts applies her CoverShotFake.jpgskillful hand. Popular Woodworking‘s Photographer, Al Parrish has applied his expertise to our wintry shot and made things look quite different.

The abundance of white in the picture is two-fold. First we need that area for cover lines (those bold captions that induce readers to pick up a copy at the newsstand.) And secondly, it erases the snowy conditions outside.

The next picture is the shot as we see it. It’s a different camera angle from the professional’s point of view. Look closely at the photo. Right above Editor Chris Schwarz’s left arm you can see Senior Editor Bob Lang holding an artificial tree outside the window. What is the reason for the tree? The prop added a bit of summer to the background and gave Al something to clone and paste in Photoshop to build on the summertime theme.

As you can see from the picture of Bob holding the tree, we sometimes don’t work to our highest potential. Why is he there? It was a blustery day outside the shop. The wind was blowing and the temperature was in the mid-twenties. The poor tree had already taken a hit for the good of the magazine and Bob CoverShotBob.jpgwas resurrecting its stand once again. As raw as it was this day, I think Bob should get hazard-duty pay.

I can’t wait until the December cover. I wonder how they can make it snow during the “Dog Days” of August. Stick around, I’m sure it will be something to see.

– Glen D. Huey

2 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Shooting a Magazine Cover

  1. dave brown

    I’m very impressed at the creativity that goes into the magazine covers.

    Maybe we can get someone from Extreme Makeover to turn that parking lot into a postural setting. 😉

  2. Michael Rogen

    Having been in the "business" of TV and movies as an actor I have been involved in this kind of trickery on several occasions and I’m still impressed the way that nature can be manipulated. Although shooting an outdoor winter scene in San Francisco in the middle of the summer was not so much fun while wearing overcoats and sweaters trying desperately to get the scene done without seeing the sweat pouring down one’s face. It’s all alot of fun.
    Now if I could only trick my dovetails into looking better! That would indeed be something to see!!!
    Great stuff as usual.

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