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Final EditThe image we rescued from the cutting room floor.

Illustrations editor Susan Welchman talks about how a photo's texture and tone affect design choices.

Cut It?
"We quickly realized that this picture had a different feeling from the others we were leaning toward using," remembers photo editor Susan Welchman. "The others were much more journalistic—much harder hitting.

"Sure, this one has mood, but there weren't enough juicy facts behind it to hold that large a space. There's that fog in the background, and the dresses are bathed in such a soft light, but ultimately it was just too different."

Or Keep It?
"As a stand-alone image," notes layout assistant Janel Kiley, "there's something arresting about it. With that soft light in the background shining through the pastel colors of the dresses, it reminds you of the innocence of childhood.

"During the departmental 'wall walk'—the meeting where we present the photos to the magazine editors—there was a collective 'Ooh!' from the female staffers when we got to that picture. Editor in Chief Bill Allen, weighing the six or eight options we had presented for Final Edit, asked the group for their opinion; almost in unison, all the women said 'The dresses!'

"That was one debate that got settled by consensus."

Final Edit

Photograph by Amy Toensing

To send this image as a postcard click here.

Why We Pulled the Taffeta

Early one morning, deep in Puerto Rico's rural heartland, photographer Amy Toensing found a freshly washed harvest—of formal wear. "I was driving around Utuado and saw these little dresses hanging on a clothesline. I just had to stop the car," she remembers. "There was something about those colors that really said 'Puerto Rico' to me."

But not to illustrations editor Susan Welchman. "Every photograph we use has to help tell the story about that particular place," she says. "This picture is beautiful, but it didn't do the job."

The dreamlike image did do a job on several female staffers, however. "You either had dresses like these when you were a girl, or wanted them," sighed one writer. "Not me," says Toensing, a child of the seventies. "I wore pants."

Check out Puerto Rico's Divided Passions, the feature story for which this photo was originally taken.

Amy Toensing

Zoom In on more images by Amy Toensing.

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