I’m not a horticulturist, although this is beginning to change since I started my job with The Garden. I’m a Photoshopper – and I don’t mean that I scour the High Street for photos. I’m the guy that makes the magazine fit for print, using Adobe Photoshop software as my magical box of tricks that enables me to do pretty much anything.
I actually got into image manipulation as a hobby. I’ve never been very good at drawing or painting and when one wintry afternoon a friend showed me the ‘miracle’ of Photoshop I was thrown screaming with joy into the artistic world. Suddenly I was able to make logos, take elements of different photographs to make an entirely new image and make my friends look really ugly with a few virtual nips and tucks. I’ve had the bug ever since. I think that makes me an official geek.
Quite a few years have passed since then and now I do what I loved doing as a hobby as a job, which is fantastic. Also, since then, digital photography has taken over in a big way, and that, unfortunately, has given me the ‘grand’ title of Digital Image Manger – yes, that’s DIM for short. You can’t win them all.
An incredible amount of effort is put into making The Garden look as good as it does by the time it reaches your doormat. Colours are triple checked at various stages to make sure (as best we can) that the pictures are true representations of the actual plant (or garden or person) and that everything is sharp, highlights aren’t blown and shadows aren’t too dark.
It helps, however, that many of the photographs we select are supplied by great photographers: the very deserving winner of last year’s Garden Media Guild’s Photographer of the Year award Andrea Jones, our very own Tim Sandall and Clive Nichols, to mention just a few. It was a surprise to me just how many specific garden photographers and picture libraries are out there – hundreds it seems – and their variety of work is quite astounding.
Next time you look at your copy of The Garden, particularly a pretty picture, have a think about the story of that one image, the photographer who got up at the crack of dawn to catch the perfect light for the image, the developing of the image, the reproduction of the image into printable colours and the eventual sets of colour proofs that are pored over with gradual changes of improvement, and finally to the printers where again it is checked on press. It is a pretty incredible thing, if you think about it, when humans work together for a common goal.