It's a magazine called Geospatial Solutions--and look! there's a globe on the cover. In fact, there's two, the earth is such an obvious image for this topic that it's part of the logo.

A magazine for teachers is illustrated with apples. The trouble is that if this article on mentoring can legitimately be illustrated with apples, then there is probably no article in this magazine that can't be illustrated with apples.

A magazine on waste management has, surprisingly enough a garbage truck. While the garbage truck is iconic, people in waste management know more about their field than the trucks the public sees. Visually, a magazine should present an insider's rather than an outsider's view. Apples, scales of justice, elephants and donkeys--these all form a common visual language. It's hard to avoid using it from time to time. But when you use apples in a magazine for teachers, you are substituting a fuzzy visual representation of the entire field for a specific visual representation of a single article. If you're willing to do it, it's likely that you're doing it too frequently--how many times can you play the apple card before you and the reader are bored?

My experience: As design director of a magazine on local government, one of the first things I did was banish state domes, seals, and flags from our photos. In truth, it doesn't always work, we shoot subjects who don't know how to stand without a flag behind them, for example. But as a policy it accomplishes two things: First, it ensures more variety in imagery--we deal with one or two of our banned backdrops an issue, not six or ten. Second, it forces photographers and illustrators to engage topics that run deeper than our magazine's demographic. Yes, people we photograph work for local government, but we try to show who they are and what they do--not that they share an employer. HOME