Cover Photo Tips! A Quick Checklist
During the fervor of campaigning in 1992, George Bush said, ''We're enjoying sluggish times — and not enjoying them very much.'' The same might be said of many cover photo submissions we receive at Sport Fishing. Given this, we thought we'd offer a few reminders of what your shots need to include for cover consideration for Sport Fishing. They're good criteria to keep in mind while shooting photos as well as making selections from past shoots. Note that we've raised the cover rate from $500 five years ago to $750 and two years ago to $1,200.
Format — Vertical! Is the shot vertical or, if horizontal, croppable to a vertical format that will fit? (If you think a horizontal may be croppable to fit,* be aware if how much the image will need to be enlarged - if a great deal, too much grain will preclude its use.)
Format — Space at the top! Is there plenty of space at the top for both title and subtitle?
Format — Space on the left! Is there plenty of room along left side for cover blurbs (without covering up any essential part of image)?
Format — Image/Composition! Does the image do a good job of filling the frame? (A distant, jumping fish on a 35-mm slide cannot be blown-up large enough for cover use without becoming a grainy mess.) Will the image fall in the right area? Mentally grid the cover in four equal rectangles; the focal point of the image will need to be roughly in upper left corner of the bottom right box (i.e. slightly down and to the right of center). Note that your image can be flopped as long as nothing shows in the way of logos, boat names, etc.
FOCUS! Is it tack sharp? (That includes the entire image, not just part of it.) If not, sending the image is a waste of your time and money.
BACKGROUND Bright, monochromatic and uncluttered! Is the background color bright? (Need bright blue sky, water — sometimes bright green or clear water works but dull greys or browns won't make it.) Is the background monochromatic so lettering over it will ''pop''? (Believe it or not, many otherwise great photos are rejected because the top of the page contains too much light/dark contrast — best example: rippled surface of water where bright white reflective patches alternate with dark water.) Is the background uncluttered? (Title can't be put over tackle, boat towers, etc.)
SUBJECT Right for our ''look''! Is the subject appropriate for the ''Sport Fishing look''? (All the criteria above can be met perfectly, but the subject must fit our needs. Don't send us rainbow trout or jetty fishing or bloody fish, etc. Look at recent covers to see what SF looks for. If you're unsure, e-mail or call and ask.) *Test it yourself! Here's a good way to figure out yourself if an image works: Using an actual cover as a guide, cut a piece of white posterboard to size and sketch in with a black marker the title/subtitle and some blurbs; then project your image onto it (which will allow you to ''crop'' as you might feel optimal) to see how it fits.