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The Face Of The Cheltonian

The search is on... Whether you’re under 18 or over 50, whether you’re male or female, this is a competition in which everyone has a chance. crack

When I heard that James Neal, the editor of The Cheltonian, was planning to run ‘The Face’ of The Cheltonian competition I got quite excited. This should create a bit of a buzz in Cheltenham I thought.

The front covers of The Cheltonian have quite a track record for their classy, sophisticated look. Ususually women, who look stunning, but always extremely classy and well presented. They have been much appreciated, both by women and men.

I asked James how he selected the front cover images? He replied: “It’s a surprisingly long-winded and time consuming process. I actually trawl through literally hundreds of images every month in search of that one ‘special’ photograph. I always know it when I see it, the image has to have life, a depth of character, something that quite literally looks back at you and makes you wonder what’s going on behind those eyes.”

I was reminded of the eight years when I worked on a top European fashion magazine. I burnt the midnight oil at my desk, staring at photos of top models from Paris and New York agencies. We were constantly on the look out for that special something to put on the cover. Inevitably it was a face. We had thousands of photos to choose from, but despite that we still did special photo sessions at huge expense, just for the covers, flying in not only the girls, but also the photographers with their assistants. At that time Claudia Schiffer was just starting out and our magazine was the first to use her. She was so different to all the other girls. She moved in a slightly awkward way, she was pigeon-toed and her face, which had something of a little boy about it, did not always look great. But there was something special, a kind of lively curiosity in the way she looked at the camera, a sense of character depth, even then.

So what makes a good cover face? James thinks it’s not necessarily just beauty.

“I have seen the most beautiful faces which were totally uninteresting and many, less pretty in the standard way, which were totally fascinating. Most of it is to do with personality and a sort of energy which comes through in the eyes, a kind of flicker which lasts for a split second during the photo session which sets that picture, that person, apart from all the others. I like real people,” he says.

Always one to try to be fair, James has decided that he will create several categories and to open the competition up to both men and women, girls and boys.

“It’s about people, not gender, men can make for stunning cover images just as well as women, it’s all about the image, that moment in time when the camera captures an essence of a person. But most importantly I want it to be a real Cheltonian, that’s the only real caveat, I really want to have a genuine bone fide Cheltonian on the cover of The Cheltonian!”

So do you need to prove that you were born in Cheltenham to enter I ask? “No, but you do have to live in Cheltenham or one of the surrounding villages. We will require each entrant to complete a consent form and in so doing they will need to provide their name and address. If ‘Cheltenham’ appears in your address then you qualify to enter.”

Over the next three months James plans to invite girls, women, boys and men of all ages to have their photograph taken so that the people of Cheltenham can pick their winner from each category. The categories are: The under 18s (parental consent required), the 18 – 30s, the 30s – 50s, and the over 50s.
“There will be three initial photo-shoots, each giving anyone who wants to be photographed the opportunity to enter.”





The photo-shoots will take place over three separate weekends at the Beechwood Shopping Centre on:

Sunday: 23rd May - 11am-2pm

Sunday: 13th June - 11am-2pm

Sunday: 20th June - 11am-2pm


Once the initial photo-shoots have been completed the public will be asked to select their favourites in each category.

The winners will be invited to a professional photo-shoot at the studios of Two Front Teeth with make-up, hairdressers and wardrobe in attendance to achieve real glamour.

When I asked James about what will happen to the winner or winners he said, “There will actually be several winners, the best could well appear on a succession of The Cheltonian magazine covers over the forthcoming months running up to Christmas. I’m hoping, however, that we will identify an overall winner and that they will appear on the cover of the December edition.”

What will people take away from this competition, I wanted to know.

“The winners will get to keep a portfolio of his/her best photos,” said James. “This could be the start of a modelling career or simply the opportunity to enjoy a professional photo-shoot and the chance to appear on the front cover of The Cheltonian. Who knows, we may not find the right sort of faces, but it’s definitely worth a try.”

To enter simply attend one of the photo-shoots on one the dates stated above.