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The Eye of Heather Marcus

The Eye of Heather Marcus
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As far as I can tell there is nothing especially unusual about the eyes of Heather Marcus, Yankee‘s photo editor. They are hazel and bright and reflect a keen intelligence. What you can’t see when you look in her eyes is the sensibility that allows Heather to pore over hundreds of photographs and then choose the ones that you see in each issue of Yankee. Why is that important?

Writers talk about “voice,” a hard-to-define quality that elevates a piece of writing and makes it unique. It’s hard to pin down, but you know it when you read it, as if the writer is talking just to you. Photographers and photo editors need their own voice, and we call that having an “eye.” An eye for detail, clarity, light, emotion, and the way a great photograph tells a story about people, events, and places.

Each day Heather embarks on something akin to a treasure hunt. And she never knows what will turn up. A few days ago she sent me an e-mail about a young photographer’s work. I could sense her excitement behind the words. She might as well have yelled, “Eureka!” She had come across a photographer she had not known about before, who was creating spectacular images of a New England island. It was the same excitement when she found the photos of the Isles of Shoals that to me are the visual highlight of our January/February Yankee. You’ll see the results of Heather’s newest treasure hunt later this year.

We pride ourselves on our ability to bring New England’s seasons into your home. The photos that Heather uncovers and the photographers that she assigns are at the heart of that effort. Right now, Heather’s eye for detail is fixated on how to capture the essence of winter in a single image. A photographer stopped by last week with a unique idea for a winter project. He got the go-ahead and, in a few months, Heather will be at the light table looking for those bits of treasure.

No, there is nothing remarkable about the eyes of Heather Marcus — but her EYE, well, I think it’s special indeed.

Mel Allen is editor of Yankee Magazine and author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son.

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