All posts filed under: Photography

The NYT mag – less is more

Notebook: 13 January with updates 6 July 2017 | MAGAZINES On Sunday 1 January 2017 The New York Times Magazine ran a striking black and white photograph on its cover (by photographer Devin Yalkin). It was a close-up portrait of Sam Siatta, an ex US marine who after facing the horrors of war in Afghanistan, returned home to struggle with depression, alcohol dependency and PTSD. Alongside it a very small headline said simply: THE FIGHTER by CJ CHIVERS and three smaller headlines, carefully spaced apart down the left hand side of the photo stated: THE MARINE CORPS TAUGHT SAM SIATTA HOW TO SHOOT. THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN TAUGHT HIM HOW TO KILL. NOBODY TAUGHT HIM HOW TO COME HOME. It was brilliant journalism – a very simple but immensely captivating cover and a demonstration that with design, less is often much more – if a picture is striking then why clutter it with a large headline – let the picture do the talking, with a smaller, quieter headline adding to the drama. Some of my favourite NYT mag covers from 2016/17 are shown below and what they …

One for the coffee table

Notebook: 13 January 2017 | BOOK DESIGN I’ve just received my printed copy of a book I designed for Fairline Yachts for the London Boat Show. It’s a hefty 200-page publication which celebrates 50 years of Fairline and it’s stuffed full of sumptuous photos of Fairline’s luxury vessels. The company began life as a small boat builder in Northamptonshire in 1967 and they now export their beautifully designed and engineered boats worldwide. The book was put together in just one month from start to finish and I worked with the writer and editor Jonathan Arnold. Some of the layouts are shown below.

Tim Walker’s portraits for the Vogue centenary issue

Notebook: 18 August 2016 | PHOTOGRAPHY Just filing away some mags and in amongst them is the June 2016 centenary issue of Vogue which I bought specifically for a wonderful set of photos by Tim Walker with styling by Kate Phelan. Tim Walker has worked with Vogue for over 20 years and his photography is known for its sense of theatre and sometimes extravagant and magical settings. The feature consists of 26 portraits of actors, models, artists, photographers and other creatives who ‘capture the spirit of the Vogue century’ and the magazine has devoted a delicious 32 pages to them. Here they are in their entirety in running order. Note how the pictures have been carefully placed and ordered for good flow and pace – colour then monotone, singles then spread, black against white, full bleed then white border, and so on. Tim Walker has worked together with stylist and fashion editor Kate Phelan on many assignments and here they are chatting together about their most memorable shoots – I love the 1997 Glastonbury festival pictures…

A love for portrait photography

Notebook: 18 February 2016: PHOTOGRAPHY I’m a big fan of strong editorial portrait photography and a lovely little book called Read this if you want to take great photographs of people recently caught my eye. If you are a budding portrait photographer or are just interested in, and like looking at portraits of people, then this book is one to look out for. It’s written by Henry Carroll and was published last year by Laurence King and it’s full of loads of good tips and images. Here’s one of my favourite pictures from the book – Arnold Newman’s well known portrait of the composer Igor Stravinsky which Newman cropped to add to its impact. Igor Stravinsky by Arnold Newman, 1946. Cropped and uncropped versions During my time as art director at the publisher and content marketing agency Archant Dialogue, we produced a magazine for Olympus cameras. Each issue of the magazine would carry a photo competition which myself and my colleagues would judge. We’d spread all the pictures out on a large table and then slowly whittle them …

The Architects’ Journal

Notebook: 9 February 2016 | MAGAZINES | TYPOGRAPHY | PHOTOGRAPHY If you rummage around on the lower shelves at WHSmith you’ll come across a selection of industry and trade magazines such as The Grocer, Print Week and Campaign. Many of the sharper looking trade magazines are produced by the publisher EMAP – think of Drapers, Retail Week, Construction News, Nursing Times and of course AJ or The Architects’ Journal. AJ has a long history of clean, crisp, good looking design with its refined, understated layouts that let the pictures and architectural drawings do the talking. Years ago I applied for a job at AJ as the assistant art editor – I’ve always had a keen interest in architecture and I was excited by the chance of working on such a good looking publication – but alas I didn’t get the job. I remember being interviewed by the art editor Paul Harpin who later moved on to become group art director at Centaur and then creative director at Haymarket. Paul’s predecessor at AJ was Simon Esterson, so between the …

Working with photographers

Notebook: 16 November 2015 | PHOTOGRAPHY Photo shows the opening spread of a travel/car feature from Saab Magazine. The pictures were shot by the Melbourne based photographer, Jeff Busby I stumbled across this interview that I gave for Professional Photographer magazine back in 2009. There’s some good advice in here for young photographers just starting out on their careers. I’ve tweaked it slightly to update it and make it relevant to 2015. Throughout much of your career of nearly thirty years now you’ve specialised in art directing within the contract/customer magazine sector – how have you seen it change over that time? Magazine design and production has just got better and better over the years. But that’s not to say that there weren’t great magazines in the ’80s. I remember going for an interview at Redwood Publishing in about 83 or 84 for a job as art editor on Expressions, the American Express mag, and one of the first proper contract publishing titles – what attracted me was the strong typography and dynamic photography. The biggest change in customer …

At the light-box

Notebook: 23 September 2015 | PICTURE EDITING A little bit of history: Rebecca Shannon (picture researcher), Nicky Wright (senior designer) and myself (tea maker) pictured at the studio light-box back in about 1999 at Summerhouse Publishing in Norwich. We had a huge light-box upon which we would spread bundles of transparencies from photographers or picture libraries, to slowly work our way through and edit down to the chosen picture. Looking back, it was a time consuming process and I think that fairly soon after this with the advent of digital photography, the light-box began to gather dust and we eventually shipped it out. Nowadays it takes only a few minutes to find a picture from a picture library’s website but in the past I remember first having to rifle through a picture library’s catalogue, then you had to order in a batch of transparencies which wouldn’t arrive until the next day (unless you had them biked over – do they still have motorbike couriers?) and then you had to faff about scanning the picture before you could even get it on …

Campaign magazine and the mysterious Mr Schenk

Notebook: 16 September 2015, with updates in December 2016 and May 2017 Long before the days of the internet and graphic design mags, if you wanted a career as a graphic designer, then the place to go to view the job ads, used to be Campaign magazine. Campaign is of course, the weekly trade magazine for the advertising industry but back in the 70s it was stuffed full of jobs for designers as well as for advertising execs. It was, and still is, a great looking publication with a sharp design that has changed little during its 47 year lifetime and the fact that its design has stood the test of time so well, is testament to the creative skills of its designer – the mysterious and enigmatic Roland Schenk. Schenk was a Swiss typographer who had worked with the legendary German art director Willy Fleckhaus on Twen magazine (see footnote below). When the publisher Haymarket bought the stuffy trade paper World’s Press News in 1968 and re launched it as the snazzy Campaign, they called upon Roland Schenk …

Girl in red costume

Notebook: 18 May 2015 Would you believe that these beautiful pictures were shot in 1913 – they look as though they could have come from a recent copy of Vogue! They were taken by an engineer and budding photographer called Mervyn O’Gormanand and are pictures of his daughter Christina on Chesil beach in Dorset. They are some of the earliest colour photos ever shot and they used the Autochrome process – one of the first colour photo technologies, which used glass plates coated in potato starches to filter pictures with dye. You can see more of O’Gorman’s pictures here and you can view the originals in the ‘Drawn by Light’ exhibition from the Royal Photographic Society collection at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Big, shiny white things

Notebook: 6 January 2015 Love this picture by Alex P of the Rolls Royce Wraith in front of the Silver Whisper cruise ship moored at Southampton docks. It was one of the last jobs I commissioned in my role as creative director at Archant Dialogue back in November. You can see more of Alex’s car photography in my Working with others pages on this site.