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Alan Taylor brings “Big Picture” prowess to The Atlantic

Starting in February, The Atlantic will have a new section on its website: In Focus, a photography blog featuring “photo essays on the major news and trends of the day.”

Editing the site will be Alan Taylor, who’s moving to the magazine from the Boston Globe, where, for the past two-and-a-half years, he edited Boston.com‘s celebrated photo-essay feature, The Big Picture. The Globe is maintaining The Big Picture as a blog and an iPad/iPhone app — and retaining the name, too — but Taylor’s departure is still a big loss. He’d built up The Big Picture into both a web property with 8 million pageviews a month and an app that, with its lush images, is often cited as one of the most logical-for-tablets apps out there. The move is a big gain for The Atlantic, though, which is becoming known for its inspired hiring choices.

I spoke with Taylor to find out more about what In Focus will look like.

“I have a lot of plans, some small, some big,” he told me. One of the broadest goals will be expanding the format — “not necessarily many more pictures, or pictures that are much more gigantic” (though, hey, a Bigger Picture could be awesome and fitting for the times), “but just kind of going to the next level with it.”

One of the most notable things that next level may include is more user involvement. At the Globe, Taylor got to do some experiments with user-generated content, he notes, “and that worked really, really well. And I’d like to not only do similar things to that, but even more so.” In Focus might also involve more interaction with photographers and agencies — and, in general, “things that take time to get out and do and integrate and build.”

And that time will be key. At the Globe, Taylor’s job has been to be both a web developer and The Big Picture’s editor. “Part of the agreement to let me run the Big Picture was that I kept doing the other web development that needed to be done,” he noted in a blog post. “I agreed to that arrangement, and tried my best to make it work, but in the end, it was often unworkable — one or the other job would suffer when there were crunch times.”

Now, come February, the single photography feature will be Taylor’s, er, focus. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done professionally,” he says. “And it’s become clear to me that it’s something I want to do for years to come.”

                                   
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