Jody Quon is the photography director at New York magazine. A photo editor with extensive experience in reportage, portraiture and style imagery, she joined the magazine in 2004 and alongside editor-in-chief Adam Moss and design director Luke Hayman was responsible for its reinvention, in the process establishing New York’s reputation for attention-grabbing photography.
What are you doing today?
My first meeting of the day is a managers meeting with our editor in chief David Haskell. This is a meeting that takes place every Monday, and we discuss both the larger issues of the company, as well as the basic line-up for print and web. I will then meet with my staff, a combination of about ten photo editors from print and web, to go over our list of ongoing projects. I will then work with a photo editor to prepare an edit of images from a last minute assignment, and hand them off to a designer to lay out.
Later in the day we will review layouts with David, and the relevant editors working on those stories. Many phone calls will be happening all day where I will be convincing various people to participate in a shoot, nail down a schedule, or locate an obscure prop. I am always on the phone, as I find that it is the most effective way to get things done and to get what I want. A phone call is much more nuanced than an email.
If I can manage, I will try to pack another few boxes of books, or sort through some old files, or help take inventory of our massive collection of magazines (other titles that we have been accumulating for years) to ready them for a donation to the library at The Fashion Institute of Technology. They are thrilled to have our collection, and I am thrilled to know that these magazines will be such a valuable resource for their students. We are moving offices in December, and I have accumulated so much material, and I have been told most of it must be disposed of. I will then go on a dinner date with a former colleague.
Who/what inspired you to work in magazine publishing?
I have been a magazine lover all my life. Growing up, my family subscribed to many different magazines, and had not one, but two newspapers delivered every day. I loved reading magazines as it transported me out of my little world, and into the glamourous lives of others. These magazines allowed me to dream, and to dream big.
I always thought I would be a fashion designer, but I realized early on that I could never be as good as the designers that I truly respected, so I stopped pursuing this path. I worked for Comme des Garçons for five years, doing public relations, and through people I had met while working there, found my way to The New York Times Magazine for a special six month research project working on their forthcoming 50th anniversary of The Fashions of The Times.
My job was to find the original photographs that were previously published, and eventually secure rights to them. I was reporting to the late legendary fashion editor, Carrie Donovan as well as to the legendary photo director Kathy Ryan. This six month project would morph into an 11 year mentorship with Kathy, and of course with Adam Moss, who was the editor in chief at the time.
Adam left The New York Times Magazine in 2004 to take over New York magazine, and he invited me to join him as the Photography director. So I really fell into this by accident. I will say however, that I have always aligned myself with people and places that I respect and admire. I know I will work my hardest if I can contribute to something that I appreciate.
It’s been a few months since David Haskell replaced Adam Moss as editor-in-chief; how has the change impacted your role?
Not one bit.
Please share a single story/page from the magazine that sums up New York magazine for you.
This week’s cover on the Impeachment Season, by the great illustrator, Joe Darrow.
How can magazines make a difference in 2019?
We live in very strange times right now, and our responsibility as journalists has never been more important. It is crucial to devote appropriate resources to long form investigative reporting so that magazines can continue to do what they have always done best – bearing witness and exposing truth, through stories told in both the written word and the photograph.
We are actively working on some projects due to publish before the end of the year, that I am particularly proud of.
Who are you looking forward to hearing/meeting at magCulture live London 2019?
Hear more from Jody at magCulture Live on 7 November. Check the Eventbrite page for the complete line-up and details.