Who Shot It Better? Cookie Monster: Roe Ethridge or Carl Fischer

Who Shot It Better? Cookie Monster: Roe Ethridge or Carl Fischer

Feeling depressed about the world? May I suggest a cookie? This week in “Who Shot It Better” we feature the ever popular Cookie Monster who, like cookies, never goes out of style. So it will not surprise you to see his magazine cover appearances 40 years apart. Let’s take a look.

In 1977, contributing editor Elin Schoen Brockman caused a stir with her piece “Cookie Chic” for New York Magazine. Readers duked it out for weeks in the Letters to the Editor over where to find the best chocolate chip cookies. On the cover of that August 15, 1977 issue, none other than Jim Henson’s Cookie Monster, who is equally as famous for his love of cookies as for inventing the use of “nom nom” to describe delicious tasting food.

Photographer Carl Fischer, best known for his iconic Muhammad Ali cover for Esquire (did you know the arrows were held up with fishing line suspended from the ceiling?), shot Cookie with one hand on a pile of cookies while the other dangles a cookie in front of his googly eyes. It looks like a two light setup. The keylight is directional and hard, which helps accentuate the texture of Cookie’s fur. Behind the subject, a rim light that gives good background separation, but also creates a double shadow on some of the cookies (look at the some of the cookies right in the center). The fidelity of this reproduction is pretty poor, but it’s possible that the background gradient was enhanced in post. We should remind ourselves that this is pre-Photoshop, pre-digital, pre-desktop publishing.

The May 2017 issue of the UK’s The Gourmand features an image taken by New York and London-based Roe Ethridge. What seems like a simple lighting setup actually looks to be 3 to 4 lights. The keylight is off-axis and the quality of light says smaller softbox to me. Behind cookie, camera right, a hairlight. And then on the red background (great contrast!), another light or two. Love the ripped seamless!

Here’s an interior spread. The spartan graphic design feels like a relief from the typical magazine layout/cover.

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Verdict: It’s close, but I’m going with Ethridge. Ethridge’s image is more dynamic and reminds me of Cookie’s real personality.

Now, let’s reminisce about the time Cookie Monster appeared with Jeff Bridges on SNL.

Bridges: “So Cook, whaddya want for Christmas, man?”

Monster: “An iPad.”

Bridges: “REALLY?”

Monster: “No, me kidding! A Cookie!”

😂😂😂

 

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. He co-hosts the "I Love Photography" podcast on iTunes.

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