Hotstuff: Our anniversary photo shoots are always an adventure
Every five years or so we do something rash just for fun
Entertainment Fort Smith magazine marks its 15th anniversary this
month – thanks to you, our readers, who now number 80,000 plus,
and also thanks to our hundreds of appreciated advertisers who
continue to make this magazine possible and free for readers.
We've never run out of fun and interesting events, people and businesses
to write about. But, sending this magazine to press every four weeks keeps
our small but mighty staff so busy we rarely have time to enjoy a fraction of
the thousands of fun events we write about.
When we can celebrate a milestone anniversary or a special issue – like
the photo shoot for winners of our annual Favorites contest, which always
becomes an all day party, we tend to get a little carried away.
Take our fifth anniversary issue cover, for instance. In 2005, we decided
that showing as many of our 54 favorite covers so far would be a “simple” (I
believe that was Lynn's word) idea. She was right about it being a great
looking “cover of covers,” but I dare you to ask her and Donna Payne if
creating it really was simple. Now, they’ve done it again in this issue.
Just to make celebrating that anniversary a little more fun (and not simple),
we decided it would be cool to arrange an Annie Leibowitz-style group photo
with some of our long-time friends and supporters.
We invited about 50 guests to join us for coffee, sweet rolls and an 8 a.m.
photo shoot at the Fort Smith Convention Center. To our delight, all 60 –
counting ourselves and photographer Glenn Gilley – accepted.
Glenn rarely complains out loud when he hears our photo ideas, but often
rolls his eyes toward heaven. Nevertheless, he really delivered the goods and
even managed to get into the photo, too, as planned.
Our friends Katy Boulden and Polly Crews came, in spite of their strong
disapproval of early morning appointments. We were also pleasantly surprised
when others arrived with props. Jim Spears brought a life-size cut-out of
deputy U.S. marshal Bass Reeves. Carolyn Joyce appeared as Miss Laura.
Claude Legris donned the chef's hat he had worn for his 2002 cover photo
of the magazine featuring his famous pecan pie recipe.
Realtor Gray Johnson appropriately carried a “sold” sign. Dinah McCord,
also a Realtor and the first person ever to buy an ad in this magazine, brought
a pair of sequin-covered designer tennis shoes she had made for her
daughter's wedding. They had just been pictured in our wedding issue.
Mayor C. Ray Baker, who favored early morning appointments but rarely
stayed for an entire event, may have made one of his longest personal
appearances with us that day. And we welcomed Kelly Newton, who also
advertised in our first issue and continues as a sustaining advertiser.
Ten years later, we still miss Mayor Baker, Polly, our blues buddy Jim
McCormick – better known to his radio fans as Chef Eddy, and one of our
favorite artists and human beings, John Bell.
Some people in that photo have moved on to other jobs or cities. Flannery
Wasson and Emory Holland, our cover models for the first issue, are now
college graduates working in Washington, D.C. and New York, respectively. But
15 years later, the same core staff of Lynn and me, Donna Payne and Mary
Jane Hennig endures, along with current staff including Julie Berch
Hamilton, Karrie Stewart, Charles Hubbard, Calvin Evans and Glenn
Gilley. We have talented freelance contributers Reba Mize, Kristan Roland,
Brittany Ransom, Candise Montemayor and Beth Revelle frequently
writing. We rely on our delivery captain, Roger Carter, and a loyal crew who
get the 30,000 magazines to you in a little more than one day.
In 2010, we did something even more ambitious
Considering the positive attention the cover and stories our fiveyear
anniversary issue received, you might think we would come
up with an easier way to execute the cover and content for our
10th anniversary. But we don’t “do” easy. We made an even more
ambitious plan for our 2010 anniversary issue.
We invited any readers, friends, writers, fans and advertisers who
wanted to appear on the cover to be photographed at our office.
Lynn had found a spot at the edge of the lovely outdoor patio of the
Bonneville House next-door where we could stand every person and
shoot them from our building’s second-story window. Guess what,
Glenn? This time, we want you to hang out a window! (Eye roll.)
When the number of volunteers exceeded our guesstimate of how
many folks it would take to compose the cover's big number 10, we had
to change our layout idea and put the people outside the numeral. But
the result was impressive, and talk about a monumental photo shoot! It
was also a monumental Photoshop compilation to get them all in.
The crazy shoot for the 10th anniversary cover went on for days at
the same time our staff was writing and laying out our pages. But staff
members who got to talk to the little army of photo subjects said those
congenial visitors made our office seem like an ongoing celebration.
Getting to visit even briefly with both friends and fans we knew well
and those we had never met was so much fun, it's a wonder we were
able to meet the magazine's press deadline. But that's one appointment
we never miss.
We added in a photo of one person especially important to us – our
earliest business mentor, Agnes Stouffer, who now lives in Santa
Barbara, Calif. While she couldn’t join us in Fort Smith, her son Mark
shot her picture there and emailed it to us. Mark is a professional
filmmaker, producer/director, writer and photographer whose work
frequently has been published in National Geographic magazine,
televised documentaries and in other prominent media.
Our cover photo for the September 2001 issue was his: a full face
close-up of a ferocious Siberian tiger he encountered while filming the
dangerous predators on location in Siberia for an award-winning
National Geographic TV special “Tigers of the Snow.” After
photographing tigers (and almost every other kind of wild animal), it
was no problem for him to send us a photo of Agnes and himself that
blended seamlessly into our cover.
Once again, we were delighted when some people brought their own
props. Bedford Camera's Jeff Beauchamp came with his own camera
and posed with it pointing at our camera. A magazine delivery dolly was
in the portrait of Joe Wasson, Lynn’s husband/contributing
writer/delivery helper. A big fish (not real!) was proudly hoisted over his
head by Leonard Cernak of Catfish Cove. Garden writer Reba Mize
carried a bouquet of hydrangeas. And four service dogs posed with their
trainers. We hung Glenn in the “e”on the cover in tribute to his upstairs
window photography work.
We may, perhaps for our 20th anniversary, try another “cast of
thousands” cover photo. Lynn used to dream of a crane shot but now,
camera drones have been invented. Hmmm. It’s possible!
Actually, it was a melee just to wrangle our own staff together for a
group portrait in front of Bonneville House. It’s such an independently
working crew, we realize we almost never get together. Turns out we,
ourselves, are harder to corral than 60 or 100 people!
Since I was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, I've been working from
home. I have multiple myeloma. But after months of intensive treatment
and a stem cell transplant at UAMS in Little Rock, my health has been
steadily improving as I've continued monthly checkups and treatments
in Fort Smith and/or Little Rock.
Through all that, I have remained passionate about, and active in, the
magazine that Lynn and I continue to see growing in readership and
popularity. We are thrilled and grateful for the readership and advertising
support that allows us to distribute more than 30,000 free magazines
each month all over town and throughout our four-county, two-state
Our readers use this magazine to follow a month's worth of
information about some of the most interesting people and places in the
Fort Smith area and the best local and area places to shop, eat, enjoy
music, art, theater and all sorts of fun and educational activities for
themselves and their families.
– Linda Seubold