good examples of magazine covers

We are so lucky to be able to share photos from beachcombers around the world in Beachcombing Magazine! One of the hardest decisions we make each issue is which photo to put on the cover. Following is an overview of how  we select cover photos for the magazine.

A good cover photo:

  1. Is relevant to the theme or a feature story in the issue. We often use photos sent to us by the author or subject of an article in the magazine.
  2. Is eye-catching: compelling, mysterious, beautiful, colorful, moody, creative, original, illustrative, or intriguing.
  3. Is original, not posted online or previously published.
  4. Has a single focal point with plenty of room for all the typographic elements that we have to include on the cover. 
  5. Contains a glimpse or suggestion of the beach.
  6. Has no hands or other body parts in it, unless that is the point of the photo.
  7. Is high-resolution, around 4000x5000 pixels.
  8. Is vertical, shot in portrait mode — so it is taller than it is wide.
  9. Is in focus, except where intentional (we love depth of field!).

What else goes on the cover?

We need to put the magazine title, date and website, plus a feature story title and three other story titles on the cover. That makes it really hard to find a relevant and beautiful photo that works as a cover image. The shaded areas in the image below give you an idea of what needs to be included each time. Though the article titles can move around, we still need clear areas with little contrast to fit the titles and make sure they are readable.

magazine cover showing free areas


What works on the front cover and what doesn't

Below are some examples of photos, all beautiful, that work to varying degrees as a magazine cover.


While these photos are beautiful, there's too much contrast and too much going on in the photo to work with all the content we need to include on the front cover. A way to make these work would be to have a lot more room around the outside edges of the photo so we could make the focal point a little smaller.

magazine covers that are too busy


Beautiful photos, but there's still a lot going on in the background that makes it hard to find a spot to put the headlines.

Photos with too much contrast for the cover


Each of these photos has a great place to put the Beachcombing title, the feature article, and other article titles. With a single focus to the photo, beautiful colors, a lovely subject, and a peek of the beach, these covers would appeal to beachcombers and non-beachcombers alike. 

 Great magazine cover photos

Don't think your image will work on the cover?

Submit it anyway! We often have photo sections in the magazine that just celebrate beautiful photos of awesome beach finds. And, remember, there's always the back cover!

Read more about submitting your story and photos to Beachcombing magazine.