Notes by Christen: Behind the Scenes

Because we get so many wonderful compliments about the photography in our magazines, I thought it’d be fun to take you on a little behind-the-scenes tour of our photography department.

When people think of a magazine publishing company, many picture state-of-the-art equipment, high-end furniture sitting amidst other expensive surroundings and a very large staff. That’s why I love sharing some surprising things about our company.

For the 30+ titles we produce, we have two full-time photographers: Director of Photography Johanna Love and Senior Photographer Dianne Sapra, and a part-time Photography Assistant, Lauren Eatherly. They literally produce thousands of shots each month. If we, as editors, ask for one shot of a piece of artwork, they provide five. Each day, they go above and beyond what we ask of them and continue to better and better the looks of our magazines.

Here’s something else that may surprise you: Our photographers don’t use expensive lighting in their studios. They use the cheapest light available—the sun. And speaking of studios, we don’t actually have those either. For the most part, they shoot artwork in their offices, up close against one of their many windows. Other times you’ll find them in the lobby, in the parking lot, or wherever else the lighting might be just right.

For our wearables magazines, like Belle Armoire, Belle Armoire Jewelry, and Altered Couture, you may notice we use a lot of models in our photography. Those aren’t contestants from America’s Next Top Model (though they could be), they’re members of our Graphic Design Team. Our Photography Department works closely with them to schedule photo shoots throughout the course of our workdays, sometimes rounding up a group of them to shoot off-site at some of the fun locations we’ve found nearby.

My favorite thing to share about the photography department is a peek at their prop area. It astounds me to see them grab a plain box and turn it into something extraordinary. They’re always on the prowl for props to add to their stash. A lot of what they use has been donated by fellow employees attempting to de-clutter their houses. In fact, Managing Editor Jana Holstein surprised them recently with wonderful distressed wood from her backyard that she found during a recent remodel. You can bet they’ve put it to use.

More than anything, I hope that by sharing this with you, you’ll see that you don’t need the very best of supplies to work with. Working with what you already have stretches your creativity. I think it’s safe to say the most creative people in this company are our photographers. Wouldn’t you agree?

Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on every other Tuesday.

Get more inside scoop into the world of Stampington submissions in this blog post by Ricë Freeman-Zachery.


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