Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Can Shoot a Magazine Cover

A few months ago I mentioned that I had gone out for a few days in pursuit of images which might serve as a good magazine cover. In photography circles the term "landscape" is often synonymous with a horizontally-oriented image, capturing broad swaths of the outdoors with a wide angle or ultra-wide lens. Most landscape photographers know that it can also be very powerful to emphasized objects in teh foreground by using a vertical orientation with a wide angle lens. To be able to offer prints in a format such as 16x20 which is more square than a typical sensor's 4x6 aspect ratio, you have to compose the shot with a shorter height in mind.

A few years ago I met a full time stock photographer in Mt. Rainer National Park, and he pointed out that magazines are close to the relatively short 8x10 vertical format, but they require even more open and non-critical space in the image to accommodate the magazine's title and text describing the articles inside.

I never forgot this advice, so when I was looking for images to submit to Outdoor Photographer, I was able to offer a range of possibilities which were not only nice photos, but also met the layout requirements for a magazine cover. It works, as shown by my photo on the cover of Outdoor Photographer's October issue.

The next time you're out shooting landscape photographs, visualize an 8x10 composition which is shorter than what you see in the viewfinder, but also intentionally leave room in the composition, maybe shoot a little wider, to improve your odds of producing a magazine-compatible result.

Shooting a little wider when composing a shot also enables you to perform leveling adjustments in post-processing, it improves your cropping flexibility, and it can make gallery wrap canvas prints easier to produce as only non-critical portions of your image will get wrapped around the frame. So give vertical compositions due attention next time you go out, and in particular try to back off a bit from tight, tall compositions, and see what you can can up with!