An Appetite for Color
Bon Appétit's production department uses instinct and modern
technology to create colorful concoctions.
MY STOMACH was growling as I flipped through Bon Appétit's April 1998 issue. The vibrant pictures jumped off the page, tempting me to break from the constraints of a long-overdue diet. When I regained my composure, I wondered how the Condé Nast publication consistently creates such breathtakingly beautiful images. And so I went to the source.
A magazine with flavor
Before you can begin to understand the painstaking process that Bon Appétit's Los Angeles-based production department goes through to create images, you must first be introduced to the magazine's "flavor."
The book is divided into sections: In addition to food features, there's "Entertaining with Style," devoted to party planning and special occasions; a travel section that takes readers to exotic locations for a taste of regional cuisines; and other regular departments. Each page of Bon Appétit is a wash of color—the color spectrum is ex-plored from warm to cool, which makes color management all the more critical.
Although editorial content is essential, beautiful images are the foundation of each issue. As Carri Marks, editorial production director, explains, the art director hires renowned photographers to shoot for the magazine. "It gives the magazine a diverse look," Marks says. "If it was all shot in one studio, or shot by one photographer, we would lose the variation in tone seen in the magazine."
The photographers submit images to the art department on 8x10˝ and, occasionally, 4x5˝ transparencies. "We try to work in the largest format possible to get the best reproduction," Marks notes. While you can never reproduce a backlit transparency exactly with ink on paper, my job is to get as close as possible."
Once the images have been edited in house, Art Director Campion Primm reviews the transparencies with Marks. They look at the photographers' recommendations, as well as the outtakes, and choose the best reproduction candidates.