The concept of a “digital magazine cover” is not new, but Harper’s Bazaar is newly dedicated to the concept and expanding it.
A digital “cover” will be released quarterly on the magazine’s web site, launching with today’s photographs of Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, who also co-host the wildly popular Facebook show “Red Table Talk.”
Joyann King, editor of the web site, admitted that trying to give digital the visual heft of a magazine has been tried by most, to varied success, but argued “it feels really fresh for us right now.” She added that the concept will bring a sense of fashion and celebrity newness between issues of the magazine with at least subjects being treated with the importance of a cover.
“A cover story always signifies something deserves your attention — you know with a cover that it’s the most important story,” King said. “It really allows us to deliver high-profile, high-fashion and celebrity content more than just in print.”
And it’s not just a single image that is going into the feature. There are animated photos, loops, a gif, a video — all things you simply can’t do in a magazine and tend to draw a reader in.
That’s not to say that this is any sign that Bazaar is losing interest in print. “It allows us to debut more than ever before — we’re stronger together,” King said.
As for the choice of Pinkett Smith and “Red Table Talk” as the debut feature, Kerry Pieri, digital director of fashion and features, said it simply “made sense” to take a show having a moment online into a deep online feature. “We can put in links and make [the photos] come alive,” she said.
“We’ve been dabbling with all of these elements for years,” Peri said. King noted that her goals for the success of the features “are really high.”
As for the photos, which anchor the concept of the digital cover, those, as well as the videos and animation, were executed by Mariano Vivanco, who has worked for years with Bazaar and Elle in print, but marks his first time working in digital for an otherwise print publication.
Asked about how it felt to go to digital from a background mainly in print, “the word freedom comes to mind,” Vivanco said.
“I felt a little teensy bit more free just knowing it was going online, not having to worry about whether it was a single or double page,” he added. “It’s nice to be able to do a shoot like that.”
He also enjoyed working with the extended Smith family. They were into the process and Pinkett Smith picked out a dress she wanted to wear, but it didn’t fit in with the look Vivanco had in mind, when she ceded to his direction without fuss he was elated.
The only part of the entire process he isn’t excited about (he “loved” getting to animate his photos, to execute exact ideas and tweak until almost the last minute) is the ephemeral nature of the Internet. It swallows up even the best work when that’s where it lives.
“Do I long for this project to go to print — no,” Vivanco said with believable frankness. “But a very key word is ‘archival.’ Print magazines can be archived, but who archives anything digital? Maybe Hearst will be the one to do that.”