The Evolution of a Photo Editor: An Interview with Susan McElhinney of Ranger Rick Magazine
Ranger Rick Magazine might just be as familiar and well-loved to us nature photographers as that famously yellow-bordered magazine, National Geographic. But how familiar are you with the woman who sits in the editor's chair at this favorite kids' publication, and selects the storytelling images that fill the pages? Well, you're about tot learn a whole lot…
Many of us grew up on Ranger Rick Magazine, with a love of nature engrained even deeper with every issue filled to the brim with engaging animal images.
So… who exactly chooses those images? I'm excited that our guest for this episode is the woman at the helm, Susan McElhinney. Not only is Susan the Photography Editor for Ranger Rick, but she also oversees all the children's magazines, books and other projects under the umbrella of National Wildlife Federation Kids.
But long before she became a photo editor, Susan was just like us – working hard and making her way as a photographer. Indeed, Susan has been a pioneer for women in the field of photography. And she brings her stories and expertise to this interview.
From how she got her start as a photographer, to what she now looks for from the photographers binging her stories, Susan provides us with perspective and insights.
- What being a female photojournalist was like in the 1970s
- What's changed in the field of photography since Susan began her career
- Where even famous photographers fail when it comes to storytelling
- How new photographers can find a leg up with editors
- What Susan thinks of the future of conservation photography
This episode is sponsored by:
Our episode sponsor is Wild Idea Lab, my membership community where conservation visual storytellers find creativity, community and support for their wildest work. Wild Idea Lab is designed specifically for emerging and established photographers and filmmakers working in conservation and science communication.
With monthly masterclasses, live events, community engagement and so much more, members from around the world accelerate their growth as creatives and find their place in a network of colleagues and friends. Whether just starting out or you’ve been a pro for years, Wild Idea Lab has the resources you need to do more, and go farther with your work.
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Episode 60: The Evolution of a Photo Editor - An Interview with Susan McElhinney of Ranger Rick Magazine
(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)
Susan McEllhinney has had a long and amazing career in photography. She started out as a staff photographer for Newsweek Magazine in DC, just as Watergate was winding down, and through her career, she's moved through art photography, editorial photography, and into natural history. And now she is the photography editor for Ranger Rick Magazine, a publication that a lot of us nature nerds grew up on as essential reading. Now at National Wildlife Federation, not only does she work on Ranger Rick, but she also oversees all the photographic operations for the children's magazines, the books, and all the other projects that NWF Kids creates. So, between Susan's on the ground experience as a photographer in all sorts of situations to her experience as a photo editor, Susan is filled with knowledge and insights, and she generously shares them with us today. This interview is packed with information that will spark inspiration and provide really important guidance for visual storytellers. I'm thrilled for the chance to get to talk with Susan, so let's dive into this interview.
0:01:12.6 JH: Welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. I'm your host, Jaymi Heimbuch. And if you are a visual storyteller with a love for all things wild, then you're in the right place, from conservation to creativity, from business to marketing, and everything in between, this podcast is for you, the conservation visual storyteller who is ready to make an impact. Let's dive in.
0:01:44.1 JH: Welcome to the podcast, Susan. I am so excited to have you here, and I get to start out 2021 talking to you. You are the very first guest of 2021 on the podcast. So thank you so much for being here.
0:01:57.2 Susan McElhinney: Well, it is my great pleasure. Thank you for having me.
0:02:00.6 JH: Well, so Susan, there's so much that I wanna talk with you about today, but I wanna start out by noting that you've been in this industry for a while and have been a really impressive driving force for someone who has helped other photographers along. In fact, just the other day I was talking to Suzi Eszterhas, and she talked about how sitting down with you for a portfolio of you really early in her career was just life-changing for her. And so, I wanna ask you, how did you start out in your career? What has been your career path?
0:02:35.5 SM: Well, maybe my motivation to sit down with Suzi and others with reviews is because I was treated so generously and kindly when I was searching and much younger. I remember going to see people and they weren't the right people, but I would say, "Well, what recommendations do you have?" And they sent me to another person, and then another person, and I ended up at Newsweek because of that, because one man I saw sent me to this other guy who was a vice president at NBC, not the right place for me to be. And he said, "Well, I have this friend who is over at Newsweek." And Newsweek wasn't even on my radar and I went to see him, and he foisted me on the Washington office, and they resisted for months until they were desperate for some help. And I started freelancing there, and they went, "Huh, okay. Oh, she can really... Oh, she's good, she works." [chuckle] Anyway, it was the kindness of people like that and that kind of generosity that how can you not try and return it?
0:03:52.5 JH: Yeah, absolutely. So, you started out basically as a news photo journalist, right?
0:03:58.3 SM: Yes, that's exactly how I got... I went to art school. Originally, I was gonna be a sculptor, and then I figured out that that was not gonna work so I looked around and I said, "Well, what is a viable career out there these days?" [chuckle] Believe it or not, I said photography. Sure, I can think of that. It was a matter of an art that I can make a living at. I realized I was not gonna make a living being a sculptor in an ivory tower, that just wasn't gonna work for me, even though I love sculpture, and I do my sculpture now too. But anyway, yes, I did, I started out beating the streets, really doing documentary work. I was being paid $40 a day by the City of Baltimore to just wander around and take pictures of whatever I saw.
0:04:54.0 JH: Wow!
0:04:55.5 SM: Yeah. So I just was creating all this, going to all these different places and just photographing people on the streets and things, and some day I'd like to get my hands on those archives again, but it was really interesting. It was an extension of what I was doing in school. But from there, it was like, okay, now how do I parlay this into something else? And the number two newspaper in Baltimore, the News-American, and I walked in there one day and this senior editor saw my work and on Saturday night... He said, "Come in this evening. Tomorrow, Saturday evening." And I said, "Okay." I came by and I had all these prints, and he proceeded to tear the Sunday newspaper apart and make two whole pages, nothing but my pictures of Baltimore.
0:05:53.0 JH: Wow! Oh, my.
0:05:53.6 SM: Yeah, their editors came in on Sunday and said, "What the hell happened to this paper?" [laughter] Anyway, we did that periodically, I would take him a bunch of pictures, and they got used to me, but it was strictly a... It was $25 a picture or something like that. But it was giving my work exposure and giving me experience, and I looked around that newsroom and I said, "Mmm, this is kind of interesting, I like this." And so, then I... Trying to find other work, I just started beating on doors and in those days, editors would actually receive you, they would actually say, "Yeah, come on in. Stop by, bring your portfolio." The Washington Bureau of Newsweek had one photographer, and it was Watergate days, it was the last months of Watergate. And poor Wally, Wally McNamee was worn to a nub. And so he started hiring me to come in and do miscellaneous assignments just back of the book stuff and this and that. And slowly, I got put on the various trials and hearings and stuff like that, where you wiggle around the floors of the Senate or wherever it is, and fall down the sidewalks outside DC Courthouse where John Ehrlichman picture up off the concrete and stuff like that.
0:07:35.9 SM: Yeah, little by little, I did more and more. And then finally after... Oh, I don't know, it was a couple of years of freelancing, they actually asked me to come on staff. So then it was just Wally and me covering everything. And the Washington Bureau was responsible for all of Washington, all national politics, international politics, travel as well as the region of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland. So a broader region, Pennsylvania. Newsweek had a total of six photographers across the whole country at that time. I was the only woman that they ever put on staff ever. I guess, they got scared of women after me, but...
0:08:26.0 JH: So what was that like being the only woman on staff?
0:08:30.4 SM: Well, it wasn't just on staff, it was the only woman in a very male-dominated area. Journalism, in general, women were just sort of breaking in. When I was covering the White House, Judy Woodruff and Lesley Stahl and people like that had just sort of... They had only recently broken through the ranks as well. So it wasn't just photography, but photography was definitely more male-dominated. I had a brother growing up who was rather abusive, just typical male misogynist abusive brother, and I guess maybe, he toughened my skin some. So sitting on the floor in the Senate or trying to go by here and there and having other male photographers pat you on the rear end and stuff like that, make misogynist comments, I guess, I just didn't really pay much attention to it. I didn't give them the pleasure of reacting. I had a job to do and I didn't give a damn.
0:09:54.7 JH: Have you seen much change? 'Cause now you're a photo editor at Ranger Rick, and we're gonna get into a whole bunch of other stuff that you're doing right now, but you have such a drive for helping women in male-dominated fields including wildlife conservation photography, which is still a very male-dominated. Is that where that stemmed from?
0:10:16.7 SM: Well, definitely. Being a woman, I was interested in helping other women, I'm sure because of that, in part. Also, I just find that women bring something different to the table, there's a different sensibility. Maybe I can talk to them better, which is not to say that there aren't plenty of male photographers who... But it's the way the male photographers regard me as well. Now, they're used to generally having female editors.
0:10:50.2 JH: Do you think that editors have a role in level in, in both the fact that there's more men who are published and who are given assignments than women, but is there also a role that editors play in levelling that out?
0:11:06.9 SM: Well, I think that the... I think, I've always kind of felt... Well, let me go back a bit. When I was starting out in this business, I didn't want it noted that I was a female photographer. When I started out, I was ST Mcilhinny, that's what I went by. And Newsweek made a point of saying, "Can we please make it Susan T. Mcilhinny?" So I relented. But it was also because they were being sued by the women of the New York Newspaper Guild at the time, and they wanted it quite obvious that they were using women. Now, by the same token, I like to look at pictures and see what that individual has brought to the table. And I find that frequently, women are bringing something different to the table. So I think the important thing for the editor to be doing is to make the images or use the images that bring something different to the table, and different people bring different things. And it could be not just women, but it could be somebody who is Indian or somebody who is Chilean. They're telling their story, it could be different from some white guy from Germany going to Chile and shooting that story. So I think it's important to try to not perpetuate something that has been done before, but to bring a fresh set of eyes to it. Does that make any sense?
0:12:53.7 JH: Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. And I would love to ask you what it is that you see or what can sometimes stand out to you that women bring to the table that is different? Is there a way to put a finger on that?
0:13:09.7 SM: Not everybody is one category or another. But women, in general practice, tend to look around the corners more than men do. Women, by merit of their experience, see things a slightly different way. And sometimes, it's just the sensitivity to the subject matter; sometimes, it's an outrage that they see, or something else. There are different things. Men and women just bring different things to it. And I can't say all the times what it is, and I can't... Honestly, when I edit pictures, one of the things I try and do is not look at who made the pictures, but find the pictures that tell the story and tell a story. And maybe it's my sensibility I'm looking for, I don't know. I think every editor has their own prejudices. Of course, we have our own publication, we're looking for things that are right for our readers, and that's a responsibility we have to do that. But we do bring our own biases to it, too. So I just find that that diversity of voices, that diversity of points of view just make the picture a better one.
0:14:41.4 JH: So from having a news beat in Baltimore, how did you move into wildlife as a photo editor?
0:14:48.1 SM: Well, it's actually, it was kind of... I was a photographer. And when I became a mother, I needed softer editorial work to do, and I left Newsweek because I wanted to do other kinds of things and freelance again. I did a lot of freelancing before... Well, just about every magazine you could imagine, from... Well, I had the first cover... Actually, this is funny. I had the first cover of Discover Magazine.
0:15:20.2 JH: Wow!
0:15:20.2 SM: Which was bizarre that I did it. But I worked for Savvy, I worked for Life magazine, and I worked for Time. I did tons of work for People magazine here in Washington. Sports magazines. One day, an editor called me up and said, "Well, you live in Virginia, right?" And I said, "Yeah." "Well, you live in Arlington, right?" "Yeah." "Well, I have a story about a runner I want you to photograph for me," and I said, "Okay, fine." "Well, it's a woman," and mind you, this is, again, the kind of typecasting you would always get. You're a woman or you're a mother or something like that; therefore, I worked for Parenting Magazine in those days, too.
0:16:06.8 SM: But anyway, so they took the story about a woman runner, and she runs all the way through her pregnancies. And I said, "Oh, well, that's really interesting." And they said, "Well, she lives on da-da-da-da-da." And I said, "That's my neighbor." [chuckle] It was literally a neighbor who lived a bit a block away, and I didn't realize that she was considered that unique at that time. Women did not run all the way nine months through their pregnancies and stuff. And she ran extensively, she did, yeah. Anyway, so it was a funny story. But I was getting typecast at that time, and it was interesting how quickly that shift came about, that editors were calling and saying, "Oh, you know, I thought maybe you would like this. It's about a woman and her baby." Okay, I did work for Good Housekeeping, Parenting Magazine, women's magazines, all kinds of stuff, Ms. Magazine, stuff. Anyway. I did that for a long time.
0:17:10.9 SM: But then, one of the clients I had from time to time was Geographic, and specifically, Geographic's got a lot of publications other than the Yellow magazine, and I started working on their children's books. And I did a couple children's books. And one day, the editor that I worked with there said, "Hey, I'm really shorthanded down here. Would you like to do some editing for me?" And so, I said, "Well," our son was in sixth grade at the time, and I realized that he needed more parenting. And so, I said, "Well, yeah, okay, you know, one or two days a week." But anyway, so I started working for National Geographic Kids magazine after I shot books for them. And I wanted to leave there because I was not happy with the new editor they put in place there and what they were doing. And the job on Ranger Rick came up.
0:18:12.9 SM: But the fact of the matter is, and this is a very long way of getting around to answer your question, is that nature photography and conservation photography, the whole subject of conservation was really coming to the surface more and more dominantly. And it was a critical area for serious photojournalism to be applied to it. Most of the photographers shooting those days, doing nature, were doing what I would call bird on a stick. There were a handful of photographers out doing maybe a big story, sort of National Geographic in Africa about elephants or something. But in fact, the nature of the work was very limited. And I found that a lot of the photographers really didn't know what a story was. They didn't know anything about journalism. They did not understand the impact and the necessity of telling the story about nature and conservation. And so, I just found myself at a very good time at Ranger Rick to start working with more photographers who could tell that story, and because we also saw that our readers, these 8 and 10-year-olds got it, they understood these issues better than most of the adults did. So anyway, I don't know if that answers the question.
0:19:48.2 JH: Oh, yeah, absolutely. That's a fantastic answer, and it sparks something else for me. How has your background in photojournalism informed the way that you recognize and edit stories for, especially, when it comes to wildlife conservation? 'Cause I think that a lot of times, people don't think about the idea of photojournalistic skills and storytelling coming into play in a kid's nature magazine, and yet it really does. So how does that come about?
0:20:20.4 SM: It's all about the story. It's about telling a very important story or very thrilling story. There's a rule that I apply to everything. If the kids are not drawn in by the images, they're not gonna read the story. And if they don't read the story, they're not gonna learn all the subtleties of the subject matter. So I have a responsibility to really draw the kids into the story with dramatic images that start telling a story and pose more questions for the kids. They say, "Why is that the animal doing such and such? And where are they? And what's that person doing?" And an 8-year-old, that's how they function. They don't function with, "Okay, I'm gonna sit down and read this serious scientific story." They don't do that. [laughter] So it's very important. It's the same techniques that frankly, the Wall Street Journal should use or anybody else. And if you look around, it is the same thing that they do.
0:21:27.1 JH: When you are working with photographers, do you ever coach them on the story that they're working on or how to bring more of the storytelling skills into their photography?
0:21:37.1 SM: It's huge, it's huge. I will not name names, but I've been totally blown away by the fact that there are people out there who have huge reputations but do not have the slightest idea of what a story is. They know how to make a set of pictures, they know how... Okay, the cat's lying down, the cat's sitting up, the cat's climbing the tree, the cat's in sunlight, the cat's in rain, but they can't frame it. They can't frame this is the setup, these are the details, this is the thread of the story, this is the climax. They don't get that, they don't... It's just a pile of pictures that can be put in any order. And it's amazing how many very highly regarded photographers are out there who do not have a clue. They make pretty pictures they hang on a wall, but they don't go any further than that.
0:22:41.0 JH: When you say that, it sounds to me like there is so much room for photographers who don't have reputations or who are getting started or are flying under the radar to really make a big impact because they have storytelling skills. Would you say that's true?
0:22:58.9 SM: Oh, yeah, totally. I think this is definitely the time for that. I found myself at a wonderful time in terms of that confluence of things to come together, the need for it, and more people who have those skills. Yes, totally.
0:23:19.4 JH: So if someone's just starting out and maybe they haven't been published yet or they have had images here and there, but they've never really had a story out there, what are some of your tips for getting started?
0:23:35.5 SM: I wish there were a simple formula there. I think one of the things is that they really need to research what they're doing all the time. That is to say, know what everybody else is doing, constantly look at other stories, constantly try to break down those other stories. I'm always surprised by the number of people who come to me with something, a story that they wanna do for the magazine, but they don't really look at our magazine, they don't understand that it's for 10-year-olds, they haven't done their basic research and I'm like, "Get out of the room, go back, do your homework, then come back after you know who it is you're approaching and why and why that piece. Now, how to get started, you just have to take a one small bite, one small piece at a time." Some people say, "Oh, you've gotta promote, you've gotta do all this stuff." And unfortunately, I think there's an element of truth in that these days, but somehow, you do have to get yourself out there.
0:24:51.0 JH: Very recently, we did a call with the California Academy of Sciences where we did this... It was called the Breakfast Club. And this was a fantastic talk that I wish could have gone on for a lot longer, but inside of that talk, you mentioned something and it was, you have to be published to get published, it's sort of this catch-22. Do you have any thoughts on how someone can break that catch-22 or how someone can get that first story out there if they've never been published, they don't have a reputation or tear sheets to show an editor?
0:25:27.7 SM: Well, I do think that this day and age with all the social media and stuff like that, that you can do a lot of self-publishing in that regard. I think that you can get your material out there. And certainly, all the young savvy, social media savvy, young people out there should be able to use those tools to their advantage and move that material out there. Find out who it is would like this, and I will all click on any link once. It's gotta grab me in the first 15 seconds or I'm closing it, too. But I mean, most of us will, we'll quickly look at a link, but I think that social media is one of the better ways to start getting your material out, and I think also just networking, I think it's just simple networking. I think your Idea Lab is a perfect example of that, that just by getting together and collaborating and networking, I mean, I think collaboration is a huge factor these days. Find a scientist to work with, if you have something that's up that person's alley or find another writer or illustrator or somebody else who... Getting the two of you collaborating together can produce an even richer product than just your photographs.
0:27:03.1 SM: There are a lot of ideas, and I think it's networking, putting your ear to the ground, doing your social media thing. There is opportunity there. I think the other thing is, and this is something I've observed in my career and that the career of many other people is that it just takes sheer persistence, so you just have to keep doing it. You can't give up because one person said, "Oh, get out of my life." You can't do that, you just have to keep at it and you gotta keep doing it, and you gotta find the right reason that you're doing it, you have to be honest to yourself, why are you doing this? Are you just doing this because it's cute and it makes you... Or is this something you're truly passionate about? If you're really passionate about it, and you know that and you've had that serious sit down with yourself, you'll figure out a way of doing it.
0:28:01.0 JH: You mentioned earlier that you kind of arrived at Ranger Rick at this really wonderful time when conservation and wildlife conservation photography was really starting to be taken seriously, and to play a role in media publications, and I'm curious if from the time that you started at Ranger Rick till now, have you seen a shift in the way that it is either recognized by the public or in how often it comes up for either articles or topics, or how has everything shifted since you started at Ranger Rick to now?
0:28:40.0 SM: Well, I mean, the climate crisis is, I think that... Well, it is. It's the number one issue, period. I don't care who you talk to. You can talk to Vladimir Putin or you can talk to Richard Attenborough, it is the issue, it is the issue that if we don't deal with it, we're cooked, and as a consequence, it is on everybody's agenda, everybody's tongue and the material out there about it. I remember a prominent nature organization who I approached and said, "Well, you know, we really need to be doing more about conservation," and they say, "Oh, no, no, we'll offend some of our members if we do that," because they think that's just sort of liberal stuff, and now they're one of the leaders in that arena, they're touting conservation photography all the time. But it's been a real shift of mind and it used to have an aura of being conservative or liberal.
0:29:49.3 JH: Well, so some people are really noticing. This is basically a fact, but I think that it's being noticed very loudly that conservation has become very much a young person's movement; teenagers are really being noticed as leading the charge and being very vocal about the need for attention on climate issues now, and I'm wondering how you see photography potentially changing because of that, and I wanna mention this because you are an advisor to Girls Who Click, which is a non-profit that helps teen girls get into wildlife photography, and I can imagine that there's many of these girls who want a career in this field. Do you think that there's going to be a shift in the way that we see visuals for wildlife conservation, because the climate crisis is being taken up by young people?
0:30:49.3 SM: Well, it's being taken up by the young people because they know it's their world they're talking about, and it's not gonna be there for them or their children if they don't do something, and they're also seeing that we've not done anything all these years, and I mean, literally my generation and some of the generations after me. Is it going to change the imagery? It's definitely gonna change the imagery because it's going to have a broader and more diverse group of people telling these stories. It's also going to have a group of people coming from a position of passion. These young people aren't doing this just because it's something cute to do, but they're doing it because they really deeply are concerned about it. Look at Greta Thunberg has just lit a match, and will it change? I definitely think so. I also think this awareness and all these young women and all these young people who are doing this, whether they all end up as photographers, but maybe they will end up as storytellers in one story or another, or maybe they will end up as a scientist. But I think that it's interesting. I think it will stick and I think it is... Boy, I hope it all works out. What can I say?
0:32:31.7 JH: Well, I would love to rewind a little bit and talk about the beginnings of Girls Who Click, because you've been there from the beginning of this non-profit. What made you wanna get involved? And what's it been like being part of this organization?
0:32:49.7 SM: Well, I have to give credit to Suzi Eszterhas because she's the one who... Her passion for giving back to so many who have given so much to her, and that recognition and that heck, just being associated with something that has that much passion behind it is a pleasure for me. And of course, to me, it's the same thing. I want to see more young women come along in every regard, I want the young women to have those opportunities to strike out and find their own way through something rather than be influenced by some guys who are carrying big lenses and stuff. I'm grateful for being part of it. I don't think I'm deserving of all the praise that you young women give me, but thank you.
0:34:00.9 JH: So there's opportunities out there for primarily women in conservation photography to get involved in certain things or to have opportunities to move forward in their career, so when it comes to young women, there's Girls Who Click and they provide workshops, so there's a great opportunity or there's Wild Idea Lab for the networking, as you mentioned, or there's Her Wild Vision Initiative for women who are professionals in this field and want to be able to be found by editors. When you look at a broad diversity of what's out there, maybe organizations that you're a part of or know about, or maybe events, are there certain opportunities where you're like, I wish that every woman trying to get into this field would try that, or do that or take advantage of that?
0:34:48.4 SM: Well, I think you've named them. I think that, and I can't speak to a lot of them. I've seen the results of some of these programs, but I think everybody has to find their own level. I mean, there are places like... There's the organization like NPPA, there's local groups like Women Photographers here in Washington. When I started, there were five women photographers in all of Washington, one worked for the zoo, two worked for The Washington Post, me and, oh, Jodi Cobb of National Geographic, and we used to just get together and I mean, it was... Call it networking, socializing, sanity, but now that organization is hundreds of women photographers, which is just amazing. But I think everybody's gotta find their own comfort level there, and what really fits for them, not everybody's a joiner quite like that. But I think it will behoove anybody to do the networking, to do... Just connect and try to follow what is going on with your sisters, with your colleagues, but know what's going on all around you, not just... Don't just burrow just down into your singular organizations. Try and keep a finger on the pulse of all of it, that's how you'll best be served.
0:36:31.0 JH: That was fantastic, thank you. So I have one last question that I feel completely obliged to ask, just because this is a photography podcast and you are an editor. What is your pet peeve for someone who is trying to pitch you and what is something that can help someone really stand out if they're trying to pitch you?
0:36:55.7 SM: Well, I mentioned it before, it's the person who tries to pitch me something but they have no clue what our publication really is, they haven't done their research, they haven't done their homework. Now, I don't expect people to always know what we have done before because our public index is not very thorough, but I expect them to know what the publication is. I mean, hell, is your website there? It's not easy to get on the newsstand, but you can certainly get it at the library and most schoolchildren know it. But I think that is my pet peeve. Do your research. I get advertising photographers throwing me stuff and I'm like, "Really, dude? No. Pay attention here." But then I have very extensive guidelines that I gladly hand out and they're a little daunting; on the other hand, they're full of information, and if somebody takes the time to look at those, they will come a little better prepared. And I think that this stands for anybody. I don't think there are any photo editors out there who aren't annoyed by that. I'm happy to look at pictures. Hell, this is how I find stories, this is how I find great photographers. That's how I do it. I dig this stuff out and hell, I don't know what's going on out there. I'm sitting in a stupid office, you know, with four walls around me, I don't know what's going on, I rely on the people out there in the field who are sniffing things out, looking at things, doing things to bring them to me.
0:38:53.5 JH: So what would be one thing that would make someone really stand out to you if they're pitching you?
0:38:57.9 SM: Well, I think somebody who's organized, who has a sense of what that editor would be looking for; that is, knowing the material, asking questions rather than lecturing the editor. Sure enough, there are people who do that, you know? [chuckle] And having a conversation about it. I frequently tell people, Throw 10 things at the wall and we'll see what sticks. Don't get your hopes up too high, but do your research. Give me a blurb, give me some images to back it up. I think my number two peeve... Here's my number two peeve, Jaymi, I get people who are very articulate, who can write a beautiful proposal and with wonderful descriptive words, and then there are no pictures of those things. And it's amazing, I'm like, "Where are the pictures?" It's like, "Well, this is a lovely." And yet the pictures are like overcooked potatoes, they just go thud. The pictures, the story is not in the pictures, the story is only in the words.
0:40:22.6 JH: That makes a lot of sense, and that's actually incredibly helpful to really make sure that you've done your homework and your leg work on the imagery that you're sending in, don't spend all of your time on the eloquence of the writing itself, if you don't have the photos to back that up. That's really very helpful.
0:40:42.1 SM: Okay, good.
0:40:43.0 JH: Well, Susan, as always, you are helpful in so many ways, and I know that you earlier brushed aside some praise, but I really want to underscore the fact that you are an important leader, especially for women in this field, because you have been a mentor, you've been someone that we can all look up to. And you also work on one of the publications that all of us grew up with, I grew up with Ranger Rick and all of my nephews, I've given them subscriptions to Ranger Rick so I feel like you are just this wonderful leader, and I appreciate all of your advice and the energy that you put into this field.
0:41:24.7 SM: Oh, well, thank you very much. I have to say it's... The energy is... I get the energy from all of you, it's not my energy, just I'm only trying to return it. It's the least I can do.
0:41:40.0 JH: Well, we thank you for it, and thank you so much for being here today. It's been an absolute joy.
0:41:45.3 SM: Well, I hope this makes any sense. This is not my natural bailiwick. I don't mind being a rock on tour and yacking away, on the other hand, I don't care for talking about myself so it's... Anyway. [chuckle]
0:42:02.1 JH: Well, I appreciate it quite a bit.
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