April 10, 2008

Choosing a Magazine Cover, The Inside Story!

I just love the April issue of my magazine, Martha Stewart Living.  It’s filled with so many wonderful ideas to help celebrate the arrival of spring.  I especially like the cover shot, a gorgeous seasonal floral arrangement, of pink and white tulips, and lavender hyacinths, displayed in a lovely pussy willow nest.  I thought it would be interesting to explain a little of what is involved in creating just the right cover for our magazine.  To begin, we shoot many stories for the body of the magazine months ahead of time, if not an entire year.  In April of 2007, Spring Awakening, a story about nests was photographed.  The nest is a quintessential symbol of spring suggesting the beauty of the season.  In keeping with that theme, the idea to use a nest on the cover was decided upon by Eric A. Pike (Creative Director), Ayesha Patel, (Deputy Creative Director) and Stephen Johnson (Associate Art Director). Cover photography was scheduled for January of 2008.

After reviewing past covers, the team decided on a rich, yellow wall to use as the background.  The choice of flowers is largely determined by what is in season when the cover is displayed on newsstands.  In this case, 4 different arrangements were created and photographed.  Lighting for the set is another important consideration, which must also be seasonally appropriate.  After a successful photo shoot, the team and I had to make the choice.

        The Pink Arrangement:
        pink hyacinths
        pink tulips
        green and white tulips
        flowering quince
Although lovely, it was decided that the rather plain basket wasn’t unique enough for a cover.


        The Blue Arrangement:
        lily of the valley
        white tulips
I really loved this arrangement but it was made in a rather small pussy willow nest and it, ultimately, didn’t reflect what we wanted to achieve.


        The Yellow Arrangement:
        yellow tulips
        green and white tulips
Entirely spring-like and gorgeous, however, daffodils appeared on a cover back in April of 2005.


        Our Favorite:
        pink tulips
        white tulips
        lavender hyacinths
This arrangement combined the most beautiful elements of the other three photographs, creating the look and feel that we most wanted.  The flowers were well balanced in a larger pussy willow basket and the colors were striking against the yellow wall.  And the pink logotype color played nicely with the pink tulips.