Clare Gogerty - Editor, Coast Magazine
In an average issue of 'Coast' magazine how much of the photography is commissioned, bought from syndication agencies and submitted by photographers?
Most of the photography is commissioned.
I prefer to come up with an idea for a story, and then to approach a photographer to shoot it.
For example, in the next issue, we are running a photo story about a perfect summer’s day in Southwold. I found a poem by Philip Larkin called 'To The Sea', and then asked the photographer Jason Ingram to go to Southwold to take some pictures that illustrated it.
I do also accept house stories that have already been shot and written (usually by a photographer and writer/stylist working in partnership). This often works, although I would prefer it if Coast’s art director, Joe McIntyre, talked to the photographer prior to shooting to explain our visual philosophy.
I have an aversion to homogenised house shoots that are shot with no particular magazine in mind; they lack personality.
Our picture editor, Suzy Koo, also works closely with picture agencies and photographers, particularly when sourcing landscape shots or photographs of coastal places that we cannot afford to send a photographer to. When time permits Suzy and Joe also accompany photographers to shoots to art direct.
Do you feel that it is important to establish a visual identity for a magazine like yours through the photography you use?
Yes, it’s essential. Readers buy Coast to look at beautiful photography that will transport them mentally to the sea.
To achieve this, the photography has to be consistent in mood and quality and have a strong character. I would say the visual identity of the magazine reflects that of the British coast: it’s beautiful, sometimes melancholy, but has flashes of saucy wit.
Do you find that you are inundated with photographers looking for work at the moment?
We do receive a steady stream of enquiries from photographers and their agents.
The number has increased recently but I optimistically hope that this is because the magazine is becoming better known, not because there is less work out there!
What makes someone's work stand out to you and appropriate for 'Coast'?
The most important thing is that the photographer understands and is familiar with Coast and that the work he or she displays in a portfolio is sympathetic with the feel of the magazine.
I always feel dismayed when photographers produce portfolios of work that is out of step with the content of Coast.
Are you looking for people to submit work to you?
We have a stable of photographers who we trust and who ‘get’ Coast and I tend to favour them.
However, the stable door is by no means shut and Joe, Suzy and I are always on the look-out for new talent, especially if someone has a fresh approach and is doing something a little apart from the mainstream (without being too ‘out there’!).
The rarest quality seems to be humour: if a photographer displays any wit, I’m immediately interested.
What are you looking for from a photographer?
Probably the most important thing is that he/she pays attention to the brief given by Joe, the art director.
I know this seems blindingly obvious but I’m always surprised by how many photographers don’t and submit pictures that are irrelevant or off message.
Otherwise, what I appreciate most is a willingness to go that bit further, be enthusiastic and to look for the unexpected.
A ‘will that do?’ attitude fills me with gloom.
The images you use cross the genres of interior and travel photography, is it easy to get photographers who can achieve this hybrid?
Although some of our regular photographers are versatile and can straddle a variety of genres, I like to play to photographers’ strengths.
So, we tend to use interiors specialists for the homes stories; landscape photographers for travel pieces and portrait photographers for profiles.
You recently staged your own photographic competition via the magazine, what impressed and depressed you about the work entered?
The entries were entirely from amateur photographers and the standard was unexpectedly high, so that was very cheering.
The competition was divided into categories: coastal images of spring, summer, autumn and winter.
I had expected summer to be the most popular category but actually, there were a good number of entries in each.
What depressed me was that there were too many obvious shots eg sunsets over piers, empty stretches of beaches, and not enough playful ones.
Humour, kitsch and tackiness are as important an ingredient of the British seaside as rolling surf or lighthouses, but they were hardly represented at all.
Finally what advice would you give a photography hoping to create commercially successful travel images?
To talk to editors and art directors first to establish what they are looking for.
I much prefer to work with photographers from the conception of the feature to being presented with a set of images that have already been taken.
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