Monday, September 18, 2006

What to Do While Waiting for Pictures?

Hi -- this is a place holder until Blogger lets me download last night's pictures!

Perhaps I'd best consider a picture-less post! A difficult task, since I'm a picture-and-words sort of author. There's a reason. Let me explain.

Yes, I'm a journalist -- worked at it about 30 years in a real Journalist's Town -- Chicago. However, most of that time was spent on magazines. Magazines for the trade, in this case, foodservice. That translates out as everything from restaurants and hotels to race tracks and grammar schools.

Our magazine -- originally called Institutions and, later, Restaurants & Institutions -- was an early, early user of color pictures (4-color in printing parlance.) For good reason: food people are visually oriented readers. They want to set a beautiful plate -- that's why all those otherwise useless little sprigs of parsley and purple cabbage and shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes and such. They put color into what would be a sea of basic brown and white (think meat and potatoes or fried rice or almost any entree.)

Another reason we were pioneers in the trade with 4-color -- it brought in big ad bucks from the big food companies. Worked, too. With an inevitable hang-up. There are/were those two problem advertisers for magazines -- Campbell Soup and Eastman Kodak. Campbell Soup's red is a very special red, just as EK's yellow is unique. If your printer doesn't match those colors exactly, it's not just "Ooops" but no payment and a free ride next edition for the advertiser. We needed special inks just for the Campbell Soup ad; no, we never had a page from EK -- not our audience.

In any event, we were big on pictures and 4-color, primarily food -- and, of course, a lot of big shiny high volume kitchen equipment. Want to hear about real torture? Try spending a long afternoon writing captions for absolutely, mouth-wateringly yummy pictures sent in by those high-powered west coast ad agencies that specialized in food and recipes. The kitchen equipment usually went with layouts for efficient food production.

Basically what I am trying to say, in the midst of all these words, is that I learned early on to do word-and- picture story-telling -- not strictly picture journalism as in Life and Look magazines nor straight copy, as in newspapers or Atlantic.

That's where I'm at right now -- stuck until my host, Blogger, gets its picture downloading into gear. I was going to talk about the problem with morning glories in Arizona.


Lane said...

I loved this! Got a better picture of you in your Chi-town days. My husband and I have been debating the attractiveness of "Cook's Country" (I think) vs "Cooks Illustrated", the latter of which uses sketches mostly and little color except on the covers...many of which I have cut out, framed, and hung on our kitchen wall. I do like to drool at the color photos, while hubby likes the details of how to get the last drop of juice out of a lemon!

Granny J said...

I didn't mention my last five years at the company when I ran our international hotel magazine and got expense account trips abroad (unfortunately on a hop-skip- and-a-jump rush through several cities,in company of a tour group.) Even so, I saw and learned a lot. Didn't take pictures, however. Too bad.

k said...

You know, I realized not long ago that I'm a photo-and-talk type too. But I don't have any particular reason for it. It just seems to go on well that way.

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