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Final EditThe image we rescued from the cutting room floor.

Kathy Moran

Illustrations editor Kathy Moran explains how the storytelling value of one photograph over another can determine layout decisions.

Cut It?
“When David Doubilet went out to photograph the South Africa Coast story, one aspect we knew we had to get was the sardine run,” says illustrations editor Kathy Moran. “What he brought back was so good that we could have done a story just on the sardine run. But when it came down to doing the layout for the story, we were up against the fact that we had to do the piece on the entire South Africa coast. And we had to find those few images that really conveyed the drama of the fishermen and the sardines as well as the other wildlife. The photograph of the shark as it circled around that huge bait ball shown here (on pages 2-3 of the August National Geographic) conveyed what we were looking for, almost a sense of the ocean currents colliding. The seal shown here didn’t have the same storytelling power.”

Or Keep It?
“David and I actually led the tray that we showed to the Editor with this photograph,” Moran continues. “We both felt that it was one of the strongest pictures to come out of the entire coverage. It’s a wonderful, lyrical moment in the sea. I felt very strongly that, of everything that we had to pull out of this story, this image was the Final Edit contender.”

Final Edit

Photograph by David Doubilet
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The Last Roundup

When sardines race up South Africa’s east coast in massive shoals, dolphins corral them into bait balls, allowing opportunistic seals and sharks to smash through with jaws snapping. Ultimately the shark picture on pages 2-3 was chosen over this poetic image of a seal. "There’s a quiet menace to the shark picture that worked better with the story," says illustrations editor Kathy Moran.

Check out the Oceans of Plenty, the feature story for which this photo was originally taken. David Doubilet Zoom In on more images by David Doubilet and read his notes from the field.

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