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Jehovah’s Witnesses


Capturing Images That Enhance the Text

How do our photographers capture images that enhance our publications and complement the text? To illustrate the steps involved, consider how the cover of the September 2015 Awake! was designed and photographed. *

  • Design. After reading the article “A Balanced View of Money,” designers in the Art Department, located at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York, made sketches to illustrate the text. They next presented these sketches to the Writing Committee of the Governing Body, which selected the concept to be photographed.

    Some of the cover designs that were reviewed by the Writing Committee

  • Location. Rather than shoot photographs at an actual bank, the photography team used one of the lobbies at the Watchtower Educational Center for a fictional bank. *

  • Casting. Models, all of whom are Jehovah’s Witnesses, were selected to reflect the typical clientele of a bank in a cosmopolitan city. Records are kept so that the same models are not used too often in our publications.

  • Props. The Art Department obtained foreign currency so that the bank would appear to be outside the United States. The photography team used props to make the scene as accurate and authentic as possible. “Nothing is left to chance,” says a photographer named Craig.

  • Wardrobe and makeup. For the bank photo-shoot, models brought clothing from their own wardrobe. However, for historical settings or scenes requiring specialized uniforms, the Art Department may research and manufacture appropriate costumes. Makeup artists apply cosmetics to the models to match the time period, context, or setting depicted in the photo. “Because of today’s high-resolution photography and displays,” says Craig, “we have to be more precise than ever. Even a small mistake can ruin the picture.”

  • Photo session. Photographers ensured that the lighting in the bank shot portrayed a daytime setting. For each photo session, photographers must check that the lighting is accurate (depicting sunlight, moonlight, or artificial light), that it matches existing light already in the scene, and that it is appropriate to the mood of the scene. “Unlike video,” Craig says, “we have only one image to establish mood, so lighting is very important.”

  • Editing. Later, photo editors blurred the type on the currency so that readers would focus on the people in the photograph rather than on the origin of the money. Although the door and window frames were actually red, the editors changed the color to green—thus matching the issue’s overall color scheme.

In addition to the photography done at Patterson, branch offices around the world—in locations as diverse as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malawi, Mexico, and South Africa—have staff photographers who can be asked to supply images for our publications. Each month, the Art Department in Patterson adds about 2,500 photos to its database. Many of these are published in the Watchtower and Awake! journals, which in 2015 had a combined circulation per issue of over 115 million copies. You are welcome to tour our facilities at Patterson, New York, or any of our branch offices worldwide to learn more.

Offering the magazine in the ministry

^ par. 2 More photographs are taken for a cover than are eventually used. However, many of the outtakes, as they are called, are added to the image library and later used in other projects.

^ par. 4 If photographs will be taken on a city street, the Art Department often must obtain permits from civic authorities, specifying the number of people involved, the amount of equipment needed, and the type of lighting that will be used for the shoot.