In this interview series we've asked creative professionals who work with photography - editors, designers, advertisers, and directors - how they view and engage with pictures. In this instalment we meet Rachel Maria Taylor and Jody Daunton from Another Escape Magazine, an independent print journal based in Bristol, UK, that aims to inspire creative ambition by encouraging readers to explore their aspirations.
Hi Rachel, firstly, could you briefly explain what you do and what Another Escape is all about?
Another Escape is a biannual publication that looks to inspire an exploratory and creative approach to our lives. We attempt to do this by featuring interesting and inspiring individuals and ideas as a gentle encouragement to use one’s imagination, intuition and intellect to bring a fulfilling lifestyle.
It began as an investigation to discover passionate people who followed their motivations and ambitions, and it cumulated into a project and publication that resonates with a perpetually growing readership.
My partner, Jody Daunton, and I direct the project. Our collaborative approach has proved highly successful, drawing on each other’s strengths and evening out each other’s weaknesses.
You’ve built a strong visual aesthetic for Another Escape, how have you been able to achieve that?
Before we began the publication we really tried to work out the underlying ideas, themes, and concepts, and how we could best relay these to our readership through our brand identity and visual voice.
We aren’t complacent in our brand look and feel and it is something that continual evolves. With each volume that we produce the design, curation and content becomes stronger and, therefore, we believe a more confident and bespoke visual voice is developing. This is done through use of typography, branding, layout design and choice of imagery as well as its overall creative and editorial direction.
We have ambitions for the magazine’s overall visual narrative and all imagery that we use does have a stylistic feel. This is somewhat driven by the subject matter but also by the photographers’ individual photographic styles. We work with some wonderfully talented people who lend to the feel of Another Escape; they are practitioners with as much of a curious approach and exploratory nature as the magazine itself, and we believe that this is one of the most successful aspects of our collaborations.
How does that influence your image selection, do you look for certain types or styles of imagery when deciding what to use in order to tell a story?
Our stories and editorials aim relay the ‘real’ – so our visual style adheres to this. We prefer to get away from overly stylized or setup photography to give a truer representation of the people and ideas that we feature; we do not look to portray an idealized lifestyle, but more one that is obtainable – albeit sometimes in a slightly romanticised way. As well as this we tell stories and look to portray a sense of narrative.
How do you go about finding and commissioning work? Do you prefer to collaborate with a small selection of photographers, or are you open to submissions?
Once we find talented individuals who have really contributed to the visual voice and brand identity, we like to sustain a working relationship with them. This also tightens up our brand and enables us to feel as though we are giving back to the practitioners that supported us in our early stages.
That said, we are continually on the look out for new contributors, and we view every portfolio that is sent our way – even though sadly we don’t have time to get back to everyone. Location is a big factor as well; we are sourcing stories evermore further afield, and therefore it is good to learn of photographers with a strong photographic practice from a vast number of locations.
From an editor’s perspective, what elements should photographers be considering when undergoing projects for print publications?
It depends if they are collaborating directly with the publication or doing a personal project with a view to submitting it to a publication. With each magazine I believe that this will differ, but with regard to Another Escape we look for image-makers with a keen eye for narrative and strong photography that adheres to our style.
The most successful working relationships that we’ve had are with contributors that are open-minded; subsequently it then becomes very much a collaborative effort. The commission becomes less successful when the contributor is more rigid and less easy about relinquishing creative control. From an editor’s perspective, we are trying to curate a number of stories to work harmoniously in a grander and more holistic narrative and body of work that is the completed volume, as well as directing the individual stories for both image and text. I think that contributors should have some measure of understanding this otherwise it could be detrimental to their working relationship with the editorial team.
I can only speak for Another Escape when I say this, but we work to the upmost to ensure professional treatment, reproduction and respect is undertaken with all work that is submitted. An advantage that Jody and myself have is that we are both image-makers, so we understand the commissioning process and working dynamic from both sides.
I guess in short, from an editor’s perspective, I’d say listen/read the brief properly; make sure you understand what is being asked of you. If the editor/commissioner has overlooked details then be sure to ask about these specifics. Be flexible, collaborative and give feedback on ideas, but don’t go off-piste: your editor won’t be best pleased and this may extinguish the chance of being re-commissioned. Lastly, but importantly, think about the reader and the narrative you will be presenting them with. This is as important when editing down your selections as it is when shooting—don’t just choose pretty pictures, unless of course they are relevant.
There’s been a recent surge in beautifully crafted magazines and journals. Is it an exciting time to be working in print? Do you feel it still holds greater value than online publication?
A vast majority of us spend our working days staring at a computer screen, or on our mobiles or tablets, and I think that there is most certainly still a place for a more tangible reading experience – one that requires the reader to interact with the pages, smell the ink of the paper and their reading material actually have a physical presence. Print can offer qualities than digital just can’t, and equally digital holds greater potential in other areas. Therefore, I believe that there is a place for both.
Within this recent surge I think it is more niche publications that are coming to life. And these often thrive and find their audiences through social and digital media. In using both print and digital they are able to reach new readers and tap into networks that are specific to their content, as well as tailor a beautiful printed product. Therefore, digital platforms are actually working to assist the resurgence in print media.
As well as being niche in content, magazines are being more playful with how the printed object looks and feels: beautiful paper stocks, attention to print quality, embossing, dye cutting, interesting finishes. Even the packaging is often unique and bespoke. These book-like publications are stepping away from what we conventionally understand as a ‘magazine’, and making a new bold statement. Again these are things that digital publications simply can’t achieve.
What’s next for Another Escape?
We are currently working with a talented web designer/developer to create a new web platform for Another Escape, which we hope will be up and running within the next couple of months. So, that’s very exciting for us.