Building A Better Magazine

Over the years I have been a subscriber to many, many magazines. From Aperture to Zoom and beyond. Recently I subscribed to a new magazine called Publication. It’s founder Nick Turpin is a street photographer based in London and he is one of the founders of In-Public; a really great website for street photographers.

What first caught my eye about the publication is that it’s format is very similar to another new photo magazine called Lay Flat published by Shane Lavalette.  Both of these publications are part of the new DIY publishing paradigm (Do It Yourself and if this catches on I want credit for coining the term!). Both consist of 2 parts. The first is a modest booklet with texts from various photographers, critics and art historians. The second part (and which I really like) are a set of postcards with images from the featured photographers (or at least the photographers the editors chose who embody the particular theme).

I am assuming that it’s cheaper to publish separate cards than it is to increase the page count and have the photos as part of the booklet. Or maybe this is a great way to optimize each photo. As a former photo editor I can tell you that it was notoriously difficult to print each image to it’s optimum best. When laying out a magazine for print the pages are not arranged numerically. Pages from the front and back are printed on the same sheet so photos from different stories and advertisements maybe printed together. It’s one big mish-mash. So the optimal color settings (in terms of inks) for an ad that is predominantly red are not optimal for a color photograph of green apples and definitely not optimal for a black and white photograph of a building. The settings are all a trade off.

Maybe Shane or Nick can shed some light. But it seems to be a better way of building a photo magazine. My only complaint is that I need to keep each issue in some sort of folder or binder so that the booklet and individual postcards remain as one unit. I am sure some clever marketer will come up with something soon.

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