New Yorker Photo Editor: ‘It’s About More Than the Picture That Gets Published’

Seattle native Whitney C. Johnson is back in her hometown to give a lecture at the Seattle Art Museum.

Ahead of the museum talk, she spoke via telephone with The Stranger visual arts writer Jen Graves about her seven years on the job as one of The New Yorker‘s team of photo editors. At one point during the informative Q&A, Johnson – now the director of photography – outlined her admirable big-picture M.O.:

“I try to assign photographers assignments that can contribute to a person’s body of work. Thomas Struth had a show in New York recently, and one of the images he shot on assignment for us. Moises Saman was recently showing me the book dummy for his work from the Middle East over the last five years or so, and I’d say about 20 percent of the pictures he’s shot on assignment for us.”

“Those aren’t necessarily the pictures that we run; the ones for the book may be too subtle, or it doesn’t tell the whole story. So it’s about, how can the assignment be more than what it is. It’s about more than the picture that gets published.”

At another point in the conversation, Johnson ran down the magazine’s photo-editing team. She works alongside three print photo editors, two Web specialists and a floating special projects person.

According to Graves, Johnson has done zero interviews since taking The New Yorker job, so this is essential reading for any fan of the magazine. Bookmark/enjoy the full Q&A here.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Elisabeth Biondi Leaves The New Yorker