From 2006 to 2008, The New York Times Magazine published Play, a quarterly magazine that took a literary approach to sports stories. I was chosen to be the photo editor of Play while continuing in my role as the deputy photo editor of the New York Times Magazine.
Play was created from thin air, which meant that we needed to determine its look and identity from the ground up. This gave me my first opportunity to establish my own vision over multiple issues of a magazine. The tone of the photography was fun, kinetic, and cinematic, but with an underlying artfulness. I hired the Scottish photographer Finlay MacKay, whose pictures had a raw and playful spirit, to photograph most of the covers.
Athletes are tough subjects: Their time is tightly controlled, and while they are accustomed to being photographed during events, it’s a challenge to capture their abilities and personalities in a choreographed studio environment. I needed to use all my wrangling skills to secure time with them, and then help the photographers create portraits that were vivid and imaginative. One of my favorite photographs from Play was a balletic horizontal image of Serena Williams leaping for a shot. It was made on a court in Los Angeles in the middle of the day, but MacKay lit it for nighttime. The result was pure cinema.