Photography may support the subject of the article, but it also contributes to the magazine’s brand character, which ties into how it’s accepted on the newsstand. Meeting these standards requires art to be in synch with edit while juggling budget constraints with freelance talent that can shoot within the style and story boundaries of the magazine.
Rock & Ice , the Carbondale, Colorado-based, 30,000 circ climbing magazine, is almost entirely dependent on its images, says Duane Raleigh, publisher and editor-in-chief. How else to instantly depict the adventure and drama of climbing? “We put equal amounts of effort into the photography and the writing and editing, but people pay a lot more attention to the graphics.”
That make-or-break pressure on the photography has changed things. “We look at photography today as marketing and ten years ago I looked at it as documenting the sport.”
Raleigh saves the pros for solicited features;which he averages four per year. The rest of the stories generally come in on spec and utilize a climber’s own handiwork. For assignments, Raleigh expects to be short changed, despite shot instructions up front. “We’ll end up using 70 percent of the images from an assignment,” he says and adds that the rest will be solicited from other freelance photographers to fill in any holes.
“Our readers are younger than say, Fortune, so we tend to use bright colors,” says Business 2.0’s director of photography Ilene Hoffman. “We like the photography to be energetic and have action in the same way our stories do.”
For the newsstand, the cover, TOC and openers drive the purchase decision “because people at the rack have an opportunity to skim stuff but they can’t really read it,” says Raleigh. Hoffman also dedicates the biggest chunks of her budget to these sections, which is 12 percent of the magazine’s editorial budget. “I try to spend our money on openers and covers,” she says. “That seems to have the most impact.”
While Raleigh doesn’t carve out a budget for photography, he estimates it’s about two-thirds of the magazine’s $300 per-page edit budget.
Style and budget concerns are best addressed up front with freelance talent. “Make sure they get a shot list;a real solid shot list,” recommends Hoffman, who says to include every possible shot idea to make sure there will be enough material for the story. Keep the style in the family, too, she says. “If you hire a photographer that has a different style than what you need you won’t be getting their best work.”