29th Annual photo issue

TrendspottersJanuary-February 2010

It’s the most exciting—and difficult—thing he does.

Each fall our art director Luke Duran is faced with the enviable yet heartbreaking task of designing the Montana Outdoors photo issue. Enviable because he gets to look through roughly 1,200 exceptional photographs. Heartbreaking because he can use only 70 or so.

Luke’s work on the issue begins in September, when he puts out a call to our long list of professional photographers. He explains that we want their very best images and cautions that shots must have been taken in Montana. (We make an exception for Yellowstone National Park because part of it sits within our state border.) Then he waits.

Over the next six weeks, more than 100 CDs containing delightful and artistic images arrive in the mail. From my office I can hear Luke ooh and aah as he scrolls through some particularly gorgeous shots. “You have to come look at this one,” he’ll call out, and I’ll drop everything to have a peek at yet another knockout photo.

For several weeks, Luke sifts through the JPEG files, picking out the best of the best and then putting them together to create the photo issue. He does a lot of arranging and rearranging, because each image must work on its own as well as with several others as part of the two-page spreads.

Sadly, many wonderful shots don’t make the cut. Some aren’t sharp enough for magazine reproduction. Others contain subject matter that doesn’t fit the Montana Outdoors format. The toughest calls are when we have to pass on a breathtaking landscape or marvelous wildlife shot because it’s too similar to others appearing elsewhere in the issue. We sit on some of these for a few months, hoping to work them into another issue of the magazine. But most we send back to the photographers with our regrets—and our encouragement to try again next year.

We can hardly wait to see what they send us.Bear bullet

The Montana Outdoors photo issue is on newstands now. Or click here to subscribe.

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