In Living Color
In celebration of Arizona Highways' 75th anniversary, its creators speak out about quality, image integrity and digital technologies.
Summoned by open space, travelers find Arizona to be a heterogenous collective of cultures and landscapes. The magazine most closely associated with the region's tourism has been steering generations of travelers to the Grand Canyon state for years.
Arizona Highways has an easy job: It sells a state with one of the highest rates of tourism in the country. The hard part is making sure that the images a Vermont-based Arizonaphile sees in print perfectly mimic the moments captured by the magazine's 150 photographers. Production Director Cindy Mackey says this challenge often requires working as much as six issues ahead of press schedules.
"A lot of [our] stories are seasonal," Mackey explains. "If we're going to do a wildflowers portfolio, you need photography in advance … often up to a year ahead of time."
When color splashed through the publication's pages as early as the 1940s, expectations evolved rapidly. And when the magazine went from film to computer-to-plate (CTP) within the last two years, images were showcased more adeptly—from sunrise to sunset.
Minding the mission
At dawn, a handful of photographers arrive at an old mission, hoping to capture the sharp sunrise outlining San Xavier del Bac, a landmark seated south of Tucson. One photographer sets up equipment facing South, another facing East. This is the moment artists have been mindful of for as long as the magazine's been printing its lush spreads. Such imagery creates a sense of timelessness and global ap-peal, according to Senior Art Director Mary Velgos.
Arizona Highways was reportedly the first nationally circulated magazine to publish in color; today, the magazine a circulation of 300,000 subscribers who reside in more than 122 countries. Operating as a state agency, the publishing arm also sustains its own independent business by leading the regional publications market's quest for CTP.