Anatomy of a Food Cover

Food photography can have many incarnations, and food photographers need to adjust their approach for each type.  There are food images for advertising, editorial, point of purchase, cookbooks, packaging, etc.  One type of food image is really several at the same time. I’m referring to the food image that will be used in a magazine cover.

Guide to Takeout

A cover shot needs to have elements of a point of purchase display.  It will (or won’t, as the case may be) sell the magazine.  It also is usually the preview of the feature article.  Generally the feature article will be a story that has some seasonal significance, or is of regional interest, or just timely.  These are considerations necessary to be woven into the cover image as well.  The image is often very strong graphically and must be carefully crafted to accommodate the magazine’s masthead, story leads, and even the bar code that every magazine has.

The magazine’s art director and editor or publisher almost always predetermines the cover image.  Many times a few similar images are put up for consideration for the issue, and layouts are made of each mock cover for committee review before a final one is chosen.  The photographer must consider all of these requirements and respond accordingly.

Because most magazines come out monthly, the speed and acuity that the art director and staff exhibit is amazing; and they must do it over and over again.  A photographer must be sensitive to these pressures and contribute to the energy.

We have been fortunate enough to contribute many Sacramento Magazine <> cover images and appreciate the gentile guidance of Sacramento Magazine’s art director, Debbie Hurst.  She’s always up beat, encouraging, appreciative and creative under often-stressful conditions.  Our assignments for Debbie are always a source of fun and mutual respect.

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