How to Snap a Magazine Cover Shot

Photographer Lee Cohen outlines what you need to create to cover shot.

Ditch the point-and-shoot and grab a digital SLR. The former takes fine pics, but many models fire a good second after pulling the trigger. Great photos require an immediate response.

Understand how your camera works. Set your ASA/ISO (light sensitivity) at 100 on a sunny day; 200 or 400 in flat light. Shoot at 1/800 of a second or faster to freeze action. Snow can fool a camera and look darker in photos. Try auto mode first, but if it’s too light or dark, use exposure compensation. Plus will let in more light; minus will let in less.

What will your frame consist of? Look for interesting light and composition. A useful guideline is the rule of thirds. Imagine your image split into thirds, vertically and horizontally, like a tic-tac-toe grid. Use the lines as guides for linear arrangement and the intersection points for subject matter. You can prefocus on a point of action or use autofocus to get more than one shot in quick succession.

Even pro skiers don’t always look solid, so use the terrain and your skier to anticipate the peak moment of action. Identify the points of a turn or an air when form comes together. Communication between skier and photographer is key for figuring out when and where to grab the best image.

Nail the shot. If you don’t, there’s always Photoshop.*

Utah-based photographer Lee Cohen has shot five covers for SkiingMagazine,

*What You Shouldn’t do With Photoshop: Over-cropping. Over-adjusting color. Over-sharpening. Over-blueing the sky. Over-tilting steeps. Over-anything, really.