Why I Love Magazine

Not that you were asking but I’m going to share my magazine thoughts with you…again. Why? First, I’m amazed at how many people don’t know we make a magazine. Second, this format is SO unique in how it looks, how it can be designed and what it means to those who receive it. And third, there are SO MANY people who have the drive and talent to be publishing their own. How do I know? Because I did it. On a small scale mind you. I shot, edited, sequenced and designed a short run magazine, back in like 2009, and sold my allotted number.(100) And I’m pretty sure I could have sold a lot more.

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Now, am I going to support myself on magazine sales? Probably not, but I will tell you within a week of “announcing” I was going to do this I was getting calls from people who wanted to advertise. I ended up not doing any advertising, didn’t really need it, but had I chosen to go down that route I think I could have managed it. The magazine has ALWAYS been one of the Holy Grails to documentary style photographers, going back to the days of Look and Life. HOWEVER, all of this died back in the mid 1990’s, and yet many of us are still pretending like these magazines are the keys to “getting work out.” Please. They aren’t, and they haven’t been for a long, long while, but the magazine is still very alluring because of what it means.
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First, it’s designed to be discarded, in most cases that is. We all have friends who have every copy of National Geographic or Rolling Stone or Off-Road Buckshot Mudder….come on people I grew up country. To some the magazine is SACRED ground. Most people get a magazine, read it, leave it around until they look at it and ask “Why am I keeping these?” then toss them out. But why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW ANOTHER ISSUE IS ON THE WAY. People this is so fantastic. Ever thought about a subscription list? A simple email database of those who want in? How easy is that to compile? Wait for it….I’m doing this precise thing. Stay tuned for a subsequent post.

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Also, magazines are informal in comparison to books. They are treated differently, taken poolside, used to mop up the puke of sick kids and probably still read, but I would need independent verification from you parents out there. Magazines travel. They are given away. My wife gives her’s away on airplanes. “Hey, wanna read this?” she asks and they are ALWAYS taken. Try giving a book away on a plane. It might work but people might think you are creepy too. And for all I know you ARE creepy. You’re here aren’t you?
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These last two spreads are from a new project, Whistleblower, which is a look at the modern surveillance culture and the changing terminology of modern warfare. The images were made in various places around the world.

In a way this was a trial run. Just another test in a long, long line of tests. I made mistakes, even after proofing so many times I almost threw up. It happens. To everyone. Don’t sweat it. Correct and move on. Live and learn. Enjoy. When I see this magazine I think to myself, “What are the limits here, the possibilities?” and what comes back at me is…..there aren’t any. What are we waiting for? Permission? An editor to assign something then embargo the work after running ONE image? If you are a wedding photographer why not run a quarterly run of your best images which then goes out to your top vendors, planners and former clients, via print or “E?” If you are a editorial photographer why not run an issue on what didn’t run via mainstream channels? If you are an amateur who shoots for fun why not do a run for your family to keep them up on what is turning you on in the visual world?

We all need to get hip and get hip NOW. This isn’t 1975, or 1985 or 1995 or even 2005. This is a blank slate. A playing field where everyone gets in the game.

10 responses to “Why I Love Magazine”

  1. Mike A says:

    Good ideas there Dan. I think I’ll give it a try.

  2. Mike says:

    I love the Blurb magazine and agree that the only limits are the ones we impose on ourselves. I picked up a copy of National Geographic Traveller the other day while waiting for my car exhaust to be replaced: if my photographs had been cropped as much as the ones in the magazine had obviously been I’d have been seriously annoyed; to the point of not wanting them to be published. Make your own magazine: show Nat Geo how it should be done!

    Mike.

  3. Mark Ivkovic says:

    You’ve hit the thought I had about a month back. I actually just designed and had blurb (thanks to the handy discount code) print up a magazine of some of my personal work, alongside a trade book of some of my regular work. I love the magazine format as a leave behind item. Sure trade books are cool for that too (and they fit in my small Billingham) but the magazine format is more a “leave lying around” thing. Books get put on a bookcase, magazine are a bit more “pick up-able” to anyone just passing through.
    Only just beginning to experiment with them but so far I’m smitten by the effect they seem to be having.
    Plus it’s actually so darn cheap to do and a thoroughly enjoyable process.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mark,
      Good to hear. And I agree. Magazines are eaten in a different way. I LOVE testing who wants to eat what at what time at what price. It’s a game, and a fun one. Send me something!

    • Smogranch says:

      Mark,
      Good to hear. And I agree. Magazines are eaten in a different way. I LOVE testing who wants to eat what at what time at what price. It’s a game, and a fun one. Send me something!

  4. Jason Timmis says:

    Dan,
    Do you think less of the work YOU put in a magazine than what you would put in a book? ….When you are shooting with magazine in mind are the images unto themselves made with any less care are ‘graded’ differently given that they are expected to have a (short) shelf life? Curious about your thoughts on this.

    • Smogranch says:

      Jason,
      Nope. They are different, but the effort is the same. Magazine format lends itself to certain looks, so I change what I’m doing in terms of design, but the effort is still the same.

  5. Reiner says:

    got 4 creatives/artists under my roof, mixed up with my photograpy… yeah just a thought… F.A.M. (Four Artists Mag, Photograpy Artists Mag ) magazine could be born like this. If anyone picks this up we’ll be scr.w.ed of course. Very inspiring post this is.

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