Above: The winner. This pristine image by Adrian Mills perfectly captures the delicate beauty and fleeting nature of a snowflake

A Christmas cover

We set a competition to find a reader’s picture to grace our cover. AP’s art editor looks at the entries

If you’re anything like me, Christmas creeps up on you. You either plan months in advance or run the risk of finding yourself searching for that last-minute gift in a petrol station on Christmas Eve. Pine-tree air-freshener assortment, anyone? Occasionally, it can be a last-minute thing when it comes to the AP Christmas cover image. More often than not, a suitable image will emerge from within the issue’s contents, but sometimes it doesn’t. This year, to avoid such a potential dilemma, AP held a competition.

The rules were simple: submit a portrait-format image that represented the festive season. Unlike a normal photographic competition, however, the winning image would also need to meet the special requirements of a magazine cover.

The winner would get a £200 cash prize plus a Camlink CMP1 monopod and a Kata DR 467i Digital rucksack together worth more than £100, and last, but not least, their image would grace the cover of the issue you now hold.

Although many of the 600-plus entries fitted the bill perfectly (see the selection below), it was ‘Snowflake’ by Adrian Mills (above) that really stood out. For the same reasons it stood out from the other entries, I trust it will make this year’s Christmas issue a bit more special.

 © BROWNERS                          © MALCOLM MOORHEAD
 © COLIN SARGENT                 © RICHARD DURST

 © RICHARD ERHARD                 © HERBY


© ALF BAILEY                          © JANSTER


Inspired to want to send images to a publication or picture agency? Then here’s some invaluable advice

If you’re planning to send your digital images to a picture library or publication for editorial use in a magazine or brochure, there are a few points you may wish to bear in mind.

A good place to start is to look at existing publications and images. What sort of images are being used and how are they used? Next, follow any guidelines on submissions. Is there a requirement for a specific file format or a certain resolution? As a rule, an image of 2551×3579 pixels will be large enough to print up to A4 size on a commercial press. Remember: bigger is better.

It may appear obvious, but consider the content of the image. While the subject matter might be highly amusing or relevant to you, will it appeal to a wider audience?

To make your image as adaptable 
as possible and to aid the design process, try to avoid including elements such as signs, watches and so on, that would prevent the image from being easily reversed.

Finally, whether on pages within a publication or on the cover, designers often look for images on which they can place text. In this case, it is helpful if the image contains an area clear of distracting details, such as a section of sky or a plain background.

Anatomy of a magazine cover

Top of the image

In most cases, an area clear of distractions will be needed at the top of the image. This will be the area on which the book/magazine’s title or logo will be placed.

Cover lines
As well as the clear area towards the top of the image, another similar area will be required on the left of the image (or on the right if the image can be reversed) this is where the contents of the publication will probably be placed.

Subject matter
Unless shot to a specific brief, try to ensure that the image is as universally appealing as possible.