The Impact and Process of Creating Editorial Imagery

July 2016

This image recently won a TABPI Bronze Award for its creative cover art done by John Kuczala.

This image recently won a TABPI Bronze Award for its creative cover art done by John Kuczala.

Since the days when people lived in caves, imagery has been an essential means of communication. Throughout the ages, sculpture and two-dimensional depictions have helped societies pass on important stories of heroes, gods and more. Often these images or sculptures stood alone, or with minimal text, to relay a story. In an age when comprehension of the written word wasn’t widespread, imagery was the main tool for communication. As cultures became literate and the written word became the main device for conveying stories and ideas, images continued to be an integral element used to get to the root of a concept quickly.

With today’s visual resurgence in media, great images can help grab your audiences’ attention and create retention. Like a well-written headline, an interesting image will convince someone that there’s something in front of them that deserves their attention. The visual use of humor or drama can be an effective tool to create interest and make what you’re communicating memorable.

As an editorial photographic illustrator, most of the stories I work with involve a solution to some problem. When I’m trying to develop a concept for the image to accompany a story, I’ll look at both of these parts—the problem and the solution—to try to come up with a visual metaphor that will explain some parts of one of these facets. Sometimes the “problem” side of the story can be the source of the most dramatic or humorous visual. Exaggeration of a problem to the point of ridiculousness can be a fun way to tell a story. Not every story lends itself to humor though. An image has an important role in establishing the mood of the content.

What works and what doesn’t work? In striving to tell an old story in a new way, it’s important to make sure that your audience will “get it.” Producing great imagery is often a team effort since you’re trying to communicate to a varied audience that may have a different set of visual references, so collaboration with your editorial team is helpful. Creating a visual solution that is interesting enough to create an “Aha” moment for your reader can be the most effective and memorable experience.

—John Kuczala

John, along with our Creative Director and President, Maureen Joyce, recently won an industry award for creating a photo illustration for InfoSecurity Professional, the membership publication we produce for (ISC)2.

More examples of John’s work: