Discussion...She Asked for Discussion

A PubPea whom I admire, Sherry Steveson, has posted a query on her blog that I think deserves some discussion. So discuss, we will…or rather, I will.

From Sherry’s Blog

Okay, so what I'd like to discuss (ehem.. tapping the podium) is the idea that a layout has to have these ALL STAR pictures... you know ameatur (sp?) photography that resembles something out of the pages of Architecture Digest to be publish worthy.


Don't we ALL want to see great layouts USING those not so great shots? I mean, didn't Ali E... the QUEEN of layout design publish a BOOK with photos from her childhood that weren't perfect?

So my question to you is.... what will it take for there to be REALISTIC layouts of realistic photos in the magazine. Is it just showboating and all fluff or is there ever a magazine willing to take a chance on printing layouts that aren't exactly "magazine" quality?

So, here are my humble thoughts on the issue of magazines publishing great layouts with less-than-fantastic photos.
In short, It’s probably not going to happen regularly. Here’s why I think that:

1—Magazines *sell* the idea that we can all make fantastic layouts and take fantastic photos and use fantastic products. They are banking on selling us that possibility. Just like Vogue and Cosmo are banking on selling us an image of a size 0 model in a skirt that costs $1,000…CK is selling a similar possibility. Even tho I haven’t spent a thousand dollars on my entire wardrobe stretched across the most recent ten years, (and probably won't start in the next ten years) I don’t buy Vogue to see what’s on the shelves at Target. I believe we have come to expect a certain level of impressiveness from our magazines and let’s face it, faded photos from the seventies just don’t impress and inspire like the stunning layouts featuring really good photos.

2—Technology (there’s the dreaded “T” word again) has made it so that those faded or damaged photos can be retouched and greatly improved by those of us without a college degree in photo restoration. With just a little practice an average scrapper can learn to scan, retouch, repair and re-size (and then print) less than stellar photos, creating beautiful masterpieces from what was once not. We want to submit our best work, right? So we fix those photos to make them acceptable.

3—Yes, we all have those less than perfect photos. Some of us, more than others. (Standing up, waving.) I think it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things scrappers do "in the privacy of their home-bound layouts" that magazines will never cover. Those rockin’ awesome Garden Girls that we all *heart* so much…they have bad photos too. Hall of Famers, Masters, Power Teammates…yep, them too, I bet. We all have them. We all scrap them. But just like there are topics that magazines won’t touch with a pair of archival gloves on, there are standards of quality that they need to hold the line on. However, just because certain things don’t appear in the magazines, does not mean we don’t have permission to scrap them! (Thank goodness.)

4—We must also remember that while we feel a certain friendliness towards the magazines we have come to love and admire (and desire a place inside), they are professional magazines run, for the most part, by people who were professionals in the magazine business before they got into the scrapbooking magazine business. They owe it to their profession to continue to raise the bar instead of accepting less than the best.

5—How many scrapbookers do you know who have improved their photography skills because they became scrapbookers? I know bunches. In fact, I am one. The scrapbooking magazines have taught amateur photographers a great deal about taking better photos. Just this month, there’s a cover article in Creating Keepsakes called “Perfect Portraits with Candice” in which Candice Stringham (this months Diva Dot) shares tips on getting better shots using a piece of foam core to use as an inexpensive reflector. (I won’t spoil the rest of the article…you have to read it on page 66, July 05 issue.) I know that taking better photos now doesn’t lessen the stack of less-than-desirables already waiting on you to scrap them, but it has improved future layouts, right?

6—Lastly, not every layout ever created should be published because having a LO published is supposed to be an honor. Being published in a magazine is a remarkable thing. It’s not easy to get published (as many of us know) and if it were, wouldn’t it be far less special? Not all of Ali’s layouts make it into the pages of CK…not everything Becky Higgins has touched has been published. The designs we see from the people who regularly contribute to the pages of our favorite magazines are just a fraction of all the work they do. By keeping the bar high, the magazines continue to inspire us to press on, to become more and more creative and to develop our own unique styles and habits.

So there’s my contribution to this discussion. I hope my desenting opinion is an additional spark in this discussion. It was interesting to think about this evening.

Oh yeah, I did forget to mention that while I don’t think it will be a trend that magazines give in to…I am encouraged to see the occasional article addressing these “problem” pictures and how to use them effectively. Small doses.

Thanks for reading.


Michelle said...

I tend to agree with everything what you have said. Thanks for pinpointing a lot of interesting areas.

I've blogged over this at Scrapability also. It's a very interesting subject.

Sherry said...

I'm so glad that you furthered the discussion, Sarah. Your thoughts are MUCH appreciated. I didn't express myself NEARLY as well as you did but you've essentially said what had to be said about this subject. While it will probably never be the "norm" to publish layouts with less than stellar photos (nor do I want it to be) I also think that the scrapbook magazines are missing a MAJOR market by not selecting layouts with good design and average photos and showcasing them for display even if it's just an article or two periodically. My feeling is that SO many of us would be receptive to this idea and welcome the inspiration but the magazines have NO clue that the public even WANTS this?

Does THAT make sense?

Anyway, I appreciate your contribution AND for linking to my blog...

Anonymous said...

If you have the chance to go back and read old issues of magazines like from the late 90s you'll see that they did use to have to publish pages with imperfect photos. I guess then they didn't have much choice. I'm okay with an article how-to once in a while, but I do like seeing well-done photos for the most part. I can get ideas for how to shoot from them.

TracieClaiborne said...

You are so right! I actually think that it's probably in our best interest that so many of the layouts we see feature fabulous photos. It has drastically improved the quality of my own pictures. I guess I hold myself to that standard but that's a good thing. I don't even keep photos now that aren't wonderful (thanks to digital). I find myself with mostly fabulous photos to scrap but then sometimes that's intimidating! Like I want to do them justice or some kooky perfectionist nonsense to that effect. I do agree that it would be nice to have more articles about how to work with older photos, say circa 1980. I have tons of those!

I would also like to see more articles about using a lot of photos on a layout. The one is the July 05 CK was great.

Thanks for posting this! I loved reading it and when I have time, I want to post about your other blog entries I hadn't read lately. I love reading anything you write!

Holly said...

Well written and thoughtfully considered. I really appreciate that in a blog (or anything for that matter). I think your case is straight on and I absolutely agree. I enjoy an article here and there that tells me how to get better, but wouldn't be as interested in something that doesn't inspire me to more. Happy day to you!