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Friday, November 27, 2009

An Effective Cover - What is it and how it works!

Every issue of Better Photography Magazine has been carrying consistent covers and that eventually have become now an identity for the magazine (brand). This consistency has helped in building the unique personality of Better Photography which distinguishes it amongst its competitors on the newsstands.

Let me explain you the simple yet effective philosophy behind its covers by illustrating one (the latest one, for the matter) in detail.

Hurdles right at the beginning
The ‘making of cover’, ideally, starts with a single theme decided for the month by the editorial team. Otherwise it begins with the main cover story if issue is neither special nor thematic. Accordingly, the entire story lines (text), main picture, other elements are given to the designer to place them on the cover. Sounds simple? Not a single art director or designer would agree to this. For him, it would have been easiest job to put all the text and other elements on a blank paper. But making a cover is just not that. It starts with extremely unavoidable restrictions and that is where challenge comes to the designer’s creativity.

While thinking of putting even the first element on the cover, he needs to keep lots of things in his mind- Mast head, the orientation, size of magazine, color of mast head (if it is fixed), reserved areas of the cover where he cannot even think of putting anything etc…! It is like asking someone to draw a painting on a canvas that has already a few elements drew on it and now he has to draw in the remaining part keeping the previous things intact. That is why, to design a cover of a magazine, the designer must have a great sense of visualization and creativity.

Right things at the right places
Let’s take a closer look on this cover that has a charismatic integration of text and photograph. In order to put the main story about ‘shooting portraits’ on the cover for this issue and what else could be better supporting cover photograph. This cover has got an eye-catching photograph of a gorgeous lady (a cine star-Amrita Rao – very unlikely to Better Photography that generally doesn’t carry any celebrity on the cover). Cover model is looking someone like whom it’s reader (Elderly young, male, literate, urban still cultured) can relate with.

First of all, this picture is a brilliant portrait shot that has dramatic lights falling on her body. Her expressions, slightly tilted face and her body language are just enough to take you there inside the photograph. Hands and fingers in the photograph are creating beautiful pattern and that is making this photograph an outstanding portrait. Magic of lights & shadows along with the dark back ground is adding a mysterious touch to this picture. Any portrait photographer would like to shoot the same way. And that is why it is integrated very well with the main cover story – ‘Learn to capture soulful PORTRAITS’ and also with second and third lead stories – ‘Can side profiles be better than frontal portraits?’ and ‘Creative flash techniques for great people pictures’.

Further, this picture is facing towards left side and that is why it is placed on the right side of the cover. That way it leaves entire left hand side of the cover empty to accommodate all the text and other elements without taking anything over the main picture. The head of the picture is slightly going over the Mast-head that is creating a sense of layers (virtual depth) on the cover. Sepia color of photograph is adding a typical portraiture mood in overall picture. This tone is just perfect for the white color that is standard for the mast-head and the cover stories of regular covers of Better Photography. As the second color for rest of text is used is bronze to match it with sepia tone of photograph. Combination of white & bronze is just adding the same flavor of sepia photographs to the overall design. Proper alignment of all the stories is giving a sense of disciplined and scientific approach of designing the cover (and same can be expected in the inside pages as well).

The Magazine cares for ‘YOU’…
Now, read the cover lines carefully. ‘Learn to capture soulful PORTRAITS’, ‘How to bring out the character of a person without even showing the face’, ‘Can side profiles be better than frontal portraits?’, ‘Creative flash techniques for great people pictures’, ‘cheap flash diffusers you can make’ and lots of ‘Exclusive Reviews’.

All the stories are written (phrased) to communicate an assurance to its reader (a prospective newsstand buyer) that ‘We understand you… we know exactly what is your requirement… we are there to help you in your growth…’. In other words, cover is promising to its reader that ‘Better Photography cares for you and is committed to help you at each & every step of your growth’. Selection of articles advocates that Better Photography understand its reader up to the core.

Making it a selling cover
It is fine to put lots of benefits for the readers on the cover to show it as a promising issue. But process of making a great cover doesn’t end here, now it is also important to make it saleable on newsstand. A beautiful portrait is good enough to catch the eye-ball on newsstand. And top of that, sepia color stands out amongst the crowd of other very colorful covers lying on the newsstand. To hook a (prospective) buyer into the cover, the cover story has a very catchy word – ‘PORTRAIT’. This a great hook for almost every photographer who is interested in this subject. And if it works, reader will take a closer look on the cover story and will come to know other benefits. Then he may pick up the copy in his hands on the newsstand and may read other stories and benefits told there for him. Second & third leading stories are also promising and telling that he is going to get benefit out of these articles.

These stories are put in different colors & sizes to bring attention of buyer while maintaining the overall design good looking. This variation is also communicating the weight of the article in the issue. Yes, it can be debatable that too much text can make a cover too crowded, but in this issue even that aspect is taken care very intelligently.

To communicate the total value of this issue to the reader, total ‘Sixteen’ stories are put on the cover. Precisely, one hundred and twenty five words are placed in very balanced way so that they should not create clutter on the cover (that too without including mast-head, tag line, date, price, website address, positioning statement & the publication information …phew!). This is an excellent example of putting really a big number of information on the cover and still keeping the cover esthetically good.

Anything Special…?
Suddenly, his eyes get distracted by a peel-out sticker that is- 1) Telling the reader that the issue is carrying World’s Exclusive Review about one of the most talked about camera, and 2) It is pampering his ego by giving him an opportunity of being ‘first’ to known.

After this his eyes can go on the top band or at the bottom strip where other beneficial stories are shown in finer fonts. Top band is made of using the same color as the peel-out sticker is made of. That shows the synchronized color scheme of choosing colors for various elements are used on the cover. On the top-right hand side corner of the cover, it is having a sachet in blue color where the entries for the ‘Photographer of the year 2009’ contest are invited and this is a good catch for any aspiring photographer.

Smart investment
This cover, in the totality is offering a great value to any enthusiast and an aspiring photographer, who has a passion to know more and more about the subject and to establish himself in the league of great lens men. And the whole cover is promising to take him in the right direction. Hence, this cover has all the elements in the right way those are necessary to make a great and effective cover… a cover that is capable of market itself & can carry the burden of selling the magazine on its own. A cover that can convince a person on newsstand that buying this issue is going to be a smart investment for him, it is really an effective cover.

1 comment:

Sunder T said...

Very good stuff indeed....It's anybody'd guess,that, you have a bigger role to play in success of this magazine.