Bring Back Location Shots: Why Aren't More Magazines Taking Photos on Location? Lack of Proper Planning May Be the Answer
Peter, John, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management
After type, photographs are the most important element in magazine design. A picture is not always worth a thousand words, but in many cases it can be. Pictures are high-velocity communication for readers who are hard pressed for time.
As a publications consultant, I find that photographing people on location is one of the persistent problems in magazine making. It is more difficult than photographing someone in a studio, and as a result, too many magazines scarcely even attempt to do it-despite agreed need.
Clearly, photographs require more involved staff work and more money than straight type. But they take less work and less money if you have a plan, a procedure and, most of all, a determined resolve to get them.
I was lucky enough to be an editor at Look and Life in the glory days of photojournalism. As in films and television, the shooting script was the key to both the assignment and the results. The details of picture-magazine procedure are less applicable to today's magazines' needs. However, the emphasis that was placed on proper planning is the antidote to the problems of location photography today.
On these pages are three different types of publications with three different people-picture needs.
Adweek's black-and-white coverage of principal media events and parties is straightforward, candid camera reportage. The reporters and staff photographers work together on location. Taking plenty of shots and accurately identifying the people is the secret. Columnist-in-charge Sherrie Shamoon says, "People love to see themselves in the magazine, especially in social settings."
Far too many trade publications fail to appreciate the high readership of articles covering the relaxed activities of their readers. Even on the tightest budget, you may be surprised by the number of candid photos you can have taken for you by associations, organizations and corporations in your field-with planning. There is less need than you might think to fill your pages with stock head shots. If your words were as dull as those photos, you would never consider running them in your publications. Again, the key is planning.
The magazine spreads shown on the next page are from Professional Builder, Packaging and Security, three of Cahners' 58 business magazines. Tony Pronoitis, vice president/ executive art director, offers this experienced advice on assignments: "Planning sets the stage for orchestrating the visual communication. …