Sarah Rozen: It all started out with “Magazines for Fun and Fact,” an English course that was offered at my high school. I had originally signed up hoping to avoid a heavy workload but I ended up realizing just how much I loved magazines and the world of information and beauty that they opened up to me.
When I finished college and moved to New York City, I started out working for a photo agency and then for the Time-Life Picture Collection. I had the rare opportunity to hold and study the photographs of Margaret Bourke-White, Gjon Mili, W. Eugene Smith, and Alfred Eisenstaedt. I could see how the magazines decided which shots to use and that helped to teach me to be a better photo editor. In some cases, the photographers were still coming in to the 28th floor of the Time Life Building. It was quite a thrill to see icons like Gjon Mili still coming into an office everyday into their 80’s and in some cases 90’s. From the Time Life offices, I kept my eyes on all the Time Inc. titles, as well as all the other great magazines of the 90’s. Eventually, I fell in love for the first time! Entertainment Weekly was launched in 1990. The first year was a little rough as it was searching for its voice and vision. But by 1993, it found the sweet spot with wonderful writing from people like Mark Harris and photographers like Dan Winters and Kurt Markus. EW was making bold choices with photographers and often getting amazing results. There were new photographers like Stephanie Pfriender and Robert Trachtenberg. Robert’s photo of Jennifer Aniston perfectly captured the absurdity of “the haircut” with both humor and charm. Stephanie’s photo of Antonio Banderas is still the sexiest picture of an already very sexy man.
SPD: What Year:
SR: Around 1993-95
SPD: What were you up to?
SR: I was working at the Time Life Picture Collection and then People Magazine.
SPD: What magazine?
SR: Entertainment Weekly
SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
SR: I was always an entertainment junkie and loved to read every factoid and learn all the behind-the-scenes info about my favorite films and TV shows. The photos were exciting and fresh, presenting celebs in unexpected ways. PR firms hadn’t yet become so controlling so celebrities were willing, or could be talked into, taking chances.
SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
SR: Yes, the photo director and editor were Mary Dunn and Doris Brautigan. Additionally, they had art directors like Robert Newman and John Korpics. I feel I was very lucky to have worked at Entertainment Weekly in the late 1990’s.
SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
SR: It is surprising how many of the images are classic and timeless to this day. My time at EW helped to teach me the importance of not always taking the safe option with photographers. Sometimes when you take a chance, the results can be really surprising.