Runner’s World editor David Willey explains how the magazine’s staff came up with the cover of the latest issue, which pays tribute to the runners in the Boston Marathon by showing a finisher’s medal covered in black tape.
The magazine initially wanted to shoot a crowd of survivors at the Boylston Street finish line, but brainstormed at least three other approaches should that idea not work out — as ultimately it didn’t. As one potential Plan B, Willey writes, the magazine returned to an image by photographer Stuart Tyson of a medal with black electrical tape on it, because “we saw runners wearing finisher’s medals this way around Boston in the days after the race.”
Because of logistical problems with a live shot at the finish line, a computer-generated image of a crowd became a front-runner for the cover. But Tyson’s medal image then pulled ahead, although a slightly new approach was taken:
So we asked Stuart Tyson to do another shoot and articulated a new vision to guide him: Treat the medal not as a tragic object but rather a heroic one. An idealized prize that had taken a hit but had not lost any of its meaning or luster. Over the weekend of May 4–5, Tyson shot the medal again, but against two new backgrounds, with different lighting and a piece of gaffer’s tape in place of electrical tape, which was too shiny in the first shoot. When the new shoot came in the following Monday, I knew we had our cover. It acknowledged and honored what happened in Boston while simultaneously projecting a sense of hopeful solidarity. It was mournful and optimistic all at once.
Willey says the Runner’s World cover was inspired in part by Boston magazine’s April 26 cover devoted to the bombings, featuring a Mitchell Feinberg photo of shoes used in the race arranged in the shape of a heart. While the Runner’s World cover had four weeks to go to print, the Boston magazine cover had three days.
That idea led Boston magazine to write vignettes about the people who owned the shoes, and to create an online repository for people to photograph their own shoes and tell their own stories. You can even buy that cover as a poster, with proceeds going to The One Fund-Boston.
The bombings resulted in some particularly creative magazine covers; The Atlantic Wire collated a few here.