Phoenix-based portrait photographer Steve Craft has seen more than his share of magazine cover shoots. From Olympic athletes and healthcare professionals to aviation crews and corporate tycoons, Steve’s portraits find new openings for old and new stories. His most recent cover was for one of CDW’s publications StateTech magazine, which is dedicated to exploring technology issues relevant to state and local government IT leaders.
Steve has been working with CDW and Manifest for approximately the last 15 years. CDW is a computer hardware and software distribution and IT solutions company. Manifest is a custom publishing agency. Back in 2017, Manifest won a Content Marketing World Award for its work with CDW.
I knew going into the shoot that this was a cover option. The magazine usually has three or four cover possibilities for each issue and then they choose based on the final articles and images.
The subject of the portrait series was Shannon Lawson, Chief Information Security Office (CISO) for the City of Phoenix.
Once awarded the project, Steve joined Manifest Design Director John Lanuza and Photo Editor Sara Elder for pre-planning meetings conducted remotely.
I had a couple Zoom meetings with the Design Director and Photo Editor prior to shooting. There was a lot of back and forth with the subject trying to find a day that worked best for both of us.
The location they chose for the shoot was South Mountain Park in south Phoenix.
It’s a paved road all the way to the top and it’s a very popular tourist attraction with a great view of the city.
On one of his scouting trips, Steve took a time-lapse video that captured how the light changed throughout the day, which would provide him with a variety of looks from the one background.
I went to the location 2 times to do the time-lapse footage since the weather was a little inclement on the first try.
For the photoshoot itself, Steve opted for a skeleton crew.
It was just me, my assistant and the subject. I try to keep the crew to a minimum for subjects who might show a little nervousness/shyness when we first chat a few days or weeks before the shoot.
Shannon was very helpful and open to working with me to get the different options we needed.
As far as surprises on location, Steve was on the lookout for all types of intruders.
The biggest challenge on the shoot was trying to keep people from walking through the shot since we were on a pathway. And when you’re shooting in the desert, you have to keep your eyes open for scorpions, snakes and nasty spiders. There was a food vendor selling corn out of his truck and kept honking a loud bicycle horn every 15 seconds. I can still hear it, months later.
Steve left us with this advice for capturing a great cover portrait:
I feel it’s about making a connection with the subject and making them feel as comfortable as possible.
See more of Steve’s work on his website.
Design Director: John Lanuza
Photo Editor: Sara Elder
Photo Assistant: Chris Boyle
Read more about Steve on our Published Blog.
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