Editorial Insider – Why Garden & Gun really is the soul of the south.

People always ask me how we think of ideas for our blog and is it hard to ask people to contribute.  We are very fortunate to have a network of friends and colleagues that we can draw from and ask for their input.  It is of course easiest with the people we know personally, but those that we do not are just as generous with their time.

Andy Anderson has photographed for Garden & Gun in the past so I have always been a fan of their photography.  He spoke so highly of their photography director, Maggie Kennedy, that I thought she would be a great person to contact and ask to contribute.  Even though we never worked together personally, she was more than willing to share her thoughts.

Even though Garden & Gun is a national magazine, it is often mistaken for a regional one because it is based in the south. This couldn’t be more far from the truth.

She and I agreed that a post about the little things that people may not know about Garden & Gun and her job would be a great way to share with others how special the publication really is.

Here is what she had to say.

I was honored when Heather asked me to contribute to her fabulous blog and thought it could be an opportunity to share not only my passion for photography and the magazine but share a few things about Garden & Gun and my job that you may not know.

•  Garden & Gun is a national publication about Southern lifestyle and culture with an emphasis on photography. We have a nuanced view of the South so it’s not uncommon to find varied topics in one issue such as the best barbecue sandwiches in the South, a profile of Emmylou Harris, a photo essay focused on falconry or a feature on New Orleans artist Noel Rockmore.

 In one weekend in May, Garden & Gun won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence and a James Beard Journalism Award. We are still pinching ourselves.

•  The magazine’s name comes from the old Garden & Gun Club in Charleston, South Carolina. The happening club/disco late 70’s, early 80’s. Our building, built in 1808, was once a girl’s school, Civil War hospital, and the city’s best apothecary, whose inventory was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1978. The doors, windows, and floors are all uneven.

•  I love how the country seems to have a genuine interest in the South. Magazines covering food, shelter, outdoor, sport, etc. continue to highlight our region as well as dedicating entire issues to a Southern topic. This wasn’t the case a few years ago and it’s exciting to be part of this trend.

•  The South is such a beautiful place so I consider myself very lucky to work with a publication where photography is a driving component of its’ design and reader interest.   There is care and thoughtfulness put into each issue, each article and each photograph.  I’m proud to have been a part of the team since the first issue in 2007.

•  I love photography. I love my job. I love meeting photographers, sending them on assignments, hearing the war stories. To us in the office, the photographers are the rock stars on tour.

•  I like to work with a combination of up-and-coming Southern shooters and nationally established talent. There are so many talented photographers based in the South. Some have spent years traveling the globe and have made their home here. Others have lived in the South their entire lives and are making a national name for themselves.

•  Our photography strives to be iconic Southern, not kitchy. Soulful images that make our readers want to be there, in the moment. Lots of natural light, lifestyle, rarely conceptual. You’ll find gritty as well as a more polished look which supports our editorial range.

•  We love to run full page photos and print on high quality paper stock. I pay close attention to color proofs and reproduction of the images to ensure the photography is going to look its’ best.

•  I want to put our photographers in a position to succeed by allowing them to express their creativity during assignments. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work with so much talent. Shooters are hired based on their individual style. They get what the magazine is all about and bring their interpretation visually. If a project is too controlled beyond the basic who/what/when/where, I believe the end product will suffer. I love it when I see Garden & Gun images on their website or in a portfolio.

• I get to assign/edit projects ranging from taxidermy to five-star cuisine and everything in between. Did I mention I love my job?

•  I enjoy continuing to build a strong stable of shooters both nationally and in the South. I always welcome pitches from photographers when ideas fit within our content. We’re also increasing our photo essays online so I’m always on the hunt for creative material.

If you are a photo editor and would like to share with us what it is like to work at your publication, please email us.  We would be happy to feature you.

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3 thoughts on “Editorial Insider – Why Garden & Gun really is the soul of the south.

  1. I’m very familiar with G and G. I was asked to be apart of the very beginnings of this magazine to help build a visual style. I was the only contract photographer, I pitched my own stories, and 2 of my covers were for 2 years in a row a finalists for Magazine cover of the year. Tom Brown and Jaimey Easler were instrumental in the look and feel of GG. Thanks guys!

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