Casey Stenger, Photo Strategist at MetLife


SPD: What year?
Casey Stenger: 1998-ish

SPD: What were you up to? 
CS: I had just moved to New York and was lucky enough to land a gig at Men’s Journal, my first bona fide publishing job. I was green as green could be—more of a chartreuse.  Magazine baby skates days. I was working in the hallowed halls of Wenner Media and could not be happier (or poorer).  There was the occasional celebrity parading through to meet with Jann, you could get buds from the mailroom guys and I worked with the best bunch of pre-“bro” editors of all time. The soundtrack of the day was some mix of Beth Orton, Elliot Smith, Air and Massive Attack.  Get the picture? Oh, and there was Fred. I never did work with the man but working down the hall from him made me feel kinda special. 


SPD: What magazine and what was it that so enthralled you?
CS: A little preamble here. YM was my first childhood magazine subscription, which was my bible. In college I graduated to Rolling Stone and The New Yorker which made me feel both cool and smart, respectively. Then I joined the industry. Magazines were new. New York was new.  And SPD was this new wonderful family I had discovered.  All first loves, indeed. In those days I digested every magazine I could get my hands on. Mining and learning and discovering and, I see now, developing my voice as a nascent Photo Editor.

I came upon Madison one day and fell hard. Restrained, minimalist thoughtful design and photography. And a shit-ton of black & white. Was there anything more satisfying to see in a magazine (or on the cover, gasp!) in the late 90’s?? I don’t have my copies anymore but I remember Helena Bonham Carter looking badass smoking a ciggie on the cover, Robin Wright (Penn then, maybe?) in perfect icy blueness and Samuel L. Jackson looking smooth as ever. It was both graphic and soft. Edgy but gorgeous and so clean and modern in that moment of time. I think I also liked that it was an indie find. It had a short life but I cherished those deliveries and hoarded my little collection for many years. 


SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were? 
I reached out to Antonia Ludes who was the Creative Director of Madison and Wolfgang Ludes, photographer, and thankfully they got back to me. Antonia was generous enough to share some of her favorite layouts with SPD which you see here.

Of her time making Madison Antonia says, “We created 10 issues per year with a very small team - a labor of love and hard work, but we had the best time.”  Love.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now? 
CS: I learned a lot about editorial photography during this time and Madison is one of many examples. Your pictures have to work hard on their own.  You can’t rely on design to prop them up.  I also find I’m drawn to simplicity and negative space…and black & white!