Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream

Photo Illustration by Jeff Minton for TIME
Photo Illustration by Jeff Minton for TIME
The cover photograph for the July 2 issue of TIME, photographed by Jeff Minton.

To define the American Dream in words is simple enough: “the perennial conviction that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded with a more comfortable present and a stronger future for their children,” writes Jon Meacham in this week’s cover story. To capture the American Dream in one image is a trickier task.

“There were so many ways to show the American Dream, from imagery of people coming over to America by boat and seeing the Statue of Liberty to the dot com era and everything in between,” says Jeff Minton, who photographed this week’s cover. “Ultimately, we went with a more simple approach—showing the perfect lawn, and letting the viewer imagine the broader implications that the picture might represent.”

That perfect lawn was actually a sod farm located about an hour outside of Los Angeles. After hoisting his camera onto a crane, Minton controlled the digital capture from a tent 40 ft. below, where he set up different vignettes with models and props within the frame of his lens. “This kind of image would have been easy to composite together with stock images,” he says. “But it seemed like such a romantic idea—much like the American Dream—to actually photograph different scenes by camera.”

Jeff Minton is a Los Angeles based photographer. See more of his work here.

MORE: Read this week’s cover story on the American Dream

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