Magazine’s ‘prettiest drive’ isn’t so pretty when you include the utility poles and lines


Romenesko reader Doug Warren shares the email he sent to Down East, a Maine monthly, and the photo director’s response:


as a down east subscriber and a longtime, part-time orr’s island resident, i was pleased to see the photo on the cover of the september issue. one of my favorite trips is the ride over the little bridge from great island to orr’s island.

however, something about the photo struck me as being too perfect. i was out that way today and stopped to take the photo [above]. somehow, the utility poles and lines that are part of the landscape were removed from your cover photo. this injudicious use of photoshop seems like an unacceptable bit of journalism to this career journalist.

this pretty part of maine needs no assistance in transmitting its inherent beauty. what your cover shot does is misrepresent and undermine the truth of the image. i hope you will share this transgression with your readers.


doug warren

Down East photography director Dawna Hilton replied:

Hi Doug,

I’d like to start by thanking you for caring so much about our magazine and the great state of Maine that you would study the photograph so closely that you noticed that we removed a power pole and the lines to that pole.

We do occasionally remove power lines from some of the photographs we run in the magazine. When we see a scene in person our brain automatically edits those types of things out and we experience the beauty of a locale without their distraction. When we compress a scene into a one-dimensional image they stand out and the eye tends to focus on them instead of filtering them out. So yes, sometimes we do remove these distractions to make a scene more appealing to a viewer.

Please understand that any adjustments we make are carefully considered by the editor and design staff. These are decisions that we take very seriously. We realize there is a fine line between fundamentally changing an image and making it slightly more aesthetically appealing for a cover. Obviously most magazines go very far with Photoshop these days. We tend to be very conservative.

We appreciate your concerns and thank you for holding us to such a high standard!


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