Front Covers, who'd have them

25th Jun 2011

I hate em!

Front Covers stare back at you from the shelves of newsstands, the photos on them can make or break an issue. Photos that you instantly love or hate. Photos of consequence!

Front Covers in the world of magazines are a necessary evil. "Don't judge a book by its cover" someone, somewhere once said and I wholeheartedly agree. Front Covers used to be a thing of beauty, the culmination of all things good and great that was going to be your privilege to see in the magazine. The idea of the cover was to catch your eye, hook you in and leave you wanting more. Wanting exactly what was inside the magazine. If you were commissioned to shoot a cover or were lucky enough to have one of your photos selected to be put on the cover it was a great honour.

I've had my fair few over the years, with me its definitely a love hate kind of a thing, I love to get them. Momentarily. That Love more often than not turning to some degree of hate when I finally get to see the magazine in print! I hate seeing a great shot covered up by all the "what’s in the magazine strap-lines and Masthead" and it seems in today’s modern, headline grabbing arena, it's getting a whole lot worse!


    Double Page Spreads : Clean, Crisp and Uncomplicated. Every photographers dream.

It's a brave editor that goes minimalist these days - wouldn't it be refreshing to just go with a crisp, vibrant, naked cover and leave the what’s in this months issue to an inquisitive mind and a contents page - Sometimes I wonder if it's just a cruel trick played on photographers who've spent their entire working lives learning how to beautifully expose and compose their images. Squeezing out every last little drop of "WOW" factor, just to have it virtually all covered by day-glo graffiti!

I've been sending images to magazines all week and one of the Editors suggested that he might, just like to use one of my photos on the cover. He said he'd already got an image lined up, but thought one of mine was more "topical" and might work better. He said he'd send it over to the art department and get a mock-up made, so he could compare the images. I have to admit I wasn't initially ecstatic at the prospect, I knew the image would make a very striking cover, it showed history in the making, as well as a favourite son of the British climbing public making it. If ever there was a photo destined to be on a cover, that was it - double whammy! In a masochistic kind of a way I really wanted this image to go on the cover.

The email landed in my in-box with a "Ping" After comparing both images, they'd decided to go with the "other" image. My heart sank, but after reading the next few lines I sat at the computer with a smile on my face. Evidently everyone loved the image and agreed it was "better" than covering it with the obligatory Graffiti - So, it was going to run as an opening double page spread instead, naked except for a caption. It was a brave decision, taken by a brave editor, a decision I agreed with - the DPS was just fine in my book.

Monaco 1

  La Turbie overlooking Monaco, South of France - A great shot for a magazine DPS.

 I thought that was the last I'd heard of it and started writing this blog about just why I prefer not getting covers when things took an un-expected twist. After the image got turned down for the cover, the magazine selected a different image to use as a DPS - they sent me a PDF and it looked just fantastic. So I went about sending out the images which hadn't been chosen, to other magazines. Nine of the images where snapped up by a rival to run as a news piece and create a nice spread. All good, convert my RGB's to CMYK's and upload to their server, txt the editor to let him know, txt back thanking me, job done. Or at least I though it was. My phone rings Saturday morning and up pops the editors name, what now, I bet they can't open some of the images they were massive files! After the usual niceties had been exchanged he said they'd decided to run that exact same image, the one that was and then wasn't on the cover, on the cover. It all made perfect sense to him, it was a great, historical moment in climbing, it was 25 years since the route had first been climbed and it was the best image he'd ever seen of that route, why wouldn't he run it on the cover!

I haven't seen it yet so I've got to keep a bit of an open mind on this one, I'll let you know my opinion next month when I finally get to see it.


I love em!