Magazine Photography: Behind the Scenes at an Editorial Shoot

February 12th, 2012


In this post, I'm going to share with you some of the photographs that I shot on assignment for the June/July 2011 issue of Farm and Ranch Living magazine. Most of my magazine assignments are shot a year in advance and my contracts often stipulate that the images I shoot for an assignment can not be used by me until a specified time after publication in the magazine.  


I was assigned to shoot a typical June day at the organic vegetable farm in Waitsfield, Vt. owned by Dave Hartshorn to accompany the diary that he kept for that month. These "diarist" pieces are a regular feature in Farm and Ranch Living. For the accompanying photography, the editors like candid shots of the farmer or rancher at work, the crops, stands, animals… The only "posed" photograph they require is a group/family shot. That said, I do in fact compose and set up all of the photographs. For this shoot, Dave and I discussed which fields he and his staff would be working that day and what chores were on the agenda. Based on getting the optimal lighting, I told Dave when the best time would be to shoot each field. As I photographed each scene, I tailored the angles and compositions with light and backgrounds in mind. My choice of camera lens from wide angle to zoom to macro was dictated by what I was photographing and what effect I wanted.  My directions to Dave and his crew included "turn towards your left and move in closer", "look at me", "don't look towards the camera", "could you hold out those strawberries for a moment for a close-up shot of them in your hand" …. A lot goes into those candid shots to get the photographs that best convey the subject at hand.


Many farms all over Vermont including Dave's were devastated after Hurricane Irene hit last August. I talked with him recently to check on how he has fared in the aftermath. I am very happy to report that with financial help from the local community, NOFA grants and loans, the Vermont Community Foundation and individuals, Dave is moving ahead in 2012. He's building a new structure that will house a new farm store; farm to table dinners; a mid-week farmer's market; and food and healing workshops. In February, he will be breaking ground on another structure that will house his hydroponic project allowing him to grow vegetables year round. Best of luck to you, Dave. 


I've really enjoyed my assignments for Farm and Ranch Living and their sister publication Country. Not only am I shooting in some really beautiful rural places, but the people I've met have been great. You can check out Dave's blog at and Reiman Publication's Farm and Ranch Living at




Here are some of the photographs from my shoot...


I framed this shot so your eye would move from the young woman (Amy's daughter) tieing up pea plants in the foreground, down the row of greens to Dave
in the background.
Editors always like to see a mix of horizontals and verticals from the shoot giving them lots of choices as they lay out the
article. I keep magazine covers in mind when I'm shooting verticals and if the subject permits, leave 
plenty of sky or non-descript area at the top for the magazine's title.
This is Dave's 2 year old nephew sampling the goods while his mother smiles on. I shot this at 70mm and f/10
for a somewhat tighter depth of field so the emphasis and sharpness are on the boy and his mom. The woman behind
Dave's sister is his girlfriend, Amy, who in this shot I did not want in focus quite as prominently. 
I framed this shot of Amy so the leading line in the image of the vegies in boxes and on the table draws your eyes up to her face.
This detail shot was included in the magazine article. Clearly they liked my decision to go with the strawberry and earth stains
visible on farm worker Tim's hands.
This photograph of Dave tilling a field next to the Laureau Farm Inn was shot in the late afternoon. As he worked his way towards the lengthening shadows,
I knew that I would have my most dynamic shots with the light now at a lower angle coming in from the side.
  • My adorable daughter!! Never saw this one before, Joanne. How sweet. Amy