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Behind the Scenes of a Magazine Cover


Coming up with a magazine cover for each issue takes a few different steps. Where Calgary Art Director Veronica Cowan worked closely with our Contributing Photographer Jason Dziver for our stunning Where to Dine Awards cover for the January/February 2018 issue. She was kind enough to take some photos and give us a behind the scenes look of the process!

For the January/February 2018 cover, there were a few different steps involved. First, thinking of the idea and mulling over the best options. Second, planning and coordinating with the Restaurant of the Year, Ten Foot Henry, on the best time to come in for the shoot. Third, setting up and shooting dozens of photos to get that perfect shot. Finally, writing the snappy text and adding the Where Calgary logo to make it a magazine cover!

What is the first step to a cover like the January/February cover? How did it transform?

An idea can come from seeing a font I really like, or using an image as a jumping-off point. I get inspired by seeing what other designers are doing too. Sometimes we go through dozens of ideas, try them and discard them. In this case, the final cover ended up being really close to the original concept. I always talk to our Contributing Photographer (Jason Dziver) before we move ahead with any ideas just to see if they’re even possible; we’ve tried some pretty crazy things!

Photo by Veronica Cowan.

What are some details that go into a photoshoot we might not expect?

Moving a plate half a centimetre can change everything! It’s amazing how things change when you look at them through the lens of a camera. It’s interesting to be on set to see the little tricks used to make a shot just right; there could be paper stuffed in a boot to keep it standing, fishing line hanging from the ceiling holding a hat in place, sticky tack to stop a candle from rolling around, or an entire skeletal structure keeping a giant stack of food from toppling over!

Photo by Veronica Cowan.

How did you pick which dishes to have in the cover photo shoot?

We often leave dish selections to the chef. We suggest it should be something that will still be on the menu when the issue comes out and be visually appealing. In this issue, Ten Foot Henry had a dish off their menu chosen as one of Where Calgary’s 25 Favourite Dishes so we wanted to feature that one as well.

What are some things you think would surprise people about the work that goes into the cover of a magazine?

I think people would be surprised by the amount of equipment that has to be set up. There are usually several light stands, reflectors, mirrors to direct light, a laptop to view the images as they’re shot, cables and batteries!

Photo by Veronica Cowan.

What is the biggest challenge with photo shoots? 

We have been extremely lucky with our photo shoots; we get to work with amazing people in beautiful spaces! I think the biggest challenge with this shoot was not running out of time and hitting the lunch rush, as we were presented with so many stunning dishes and Jason didn’t want to miss shooting any of them!

Our annual Essential Calgary magazine always includes a fashion feature curated by the awesomely talented Leah Van Loon. Sometimes just finding the right location to shoot can be a challenge and when we want to shoot outdoors the weather doesn’t always cooperate.

What’s your favourite part about doing this cover, and in general directing magazine covers?

This cover was a lot of fun because the chef (Stephen Smee at Ten Foot Henry) was very passionate about the food he was making; we were presented with works of art, not plates of food. I love being able to go out on location; I’ve met some really great people.


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