I have noticed that Camera Arts has become much more digitally oriented recently. I would rager that 75% of this current issue is dedicated to digital technique or gear. In his editorial remarks,Steve Simmons eluded to the fact that film makers were no longer investing in magazine advertising. I know that Steve needs to pay the bills with advertising and that more and more of Camera Arts advertising is of digitally related products from large companies and thus the logical increase in attention to digital content.
I hope this does not mean a similar fate with View Camera, but the writing is probably on the wall. I don't know much about the magazine publishing industry
but it seems that you would have to support the sponsors through content even if it is not item specific. I would hazard a guess that the amount of money Kodak and Ilford spent on film and paper advertising in mags dwarfed what Ries or Wisner or Cachet spends.
What does anyone else think about the future of traditional photography in magazine form. Will there always be at least one publication dedicated to analogue or will we be relegated to a one or two page section in mags that are 95% digital?
I am discussing magazines and not the future of film vs. pixels. I am a firm believer in the continued availability of film and paper in all formats in the future. I am curious about others opinions and ideas about the future of photo mags that are currently still mostly traditionally based.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I almost hit the report this post button, badmouthing the site sponsor and all...
First off, I don't know Steve and have had no contact with him (other than to occasionally piss him off on the rec.photo group, but that's another story.) I'm of the opinion that he is positioning "Camera Arts" to be his flagship magazine. (notice this site is not sponsored by View Camera magazine?)
"View Camera" is always going to be a niche publication and has probably run its course in terms of increasing subscriptions. Large format has had a big resurgence due to the marketing of Ansel Adams and the marketing of the Zone VI 4x5 view camera, but I think the growth has run its course, we'll die off at least as quickly as we get replaced by new photographers.
Camera Arts is pitched differently than View Camera. It can, and has published all formats (including large format), different types of work, with more of an emphasis on documentary or photojournalism and these efforts have been really solid. Steve is probably also attempting to appeal to a younger crowd, more "liberal" publishing standards, i.e., more nudity, more scantilly clad fashion shots.
In terms of magazine production, Steve does a very good job of it. Of the 5 magazines I feel I "need" to read, 2 are published by Steve. If it weren't for Steve, you would never see a large format color portfolio that wasn't rocks and trees. Most of the magazines that rate highly among the Apug members are not more than 50% analogue either - Half of Black & White magazine's content seems to be converting Velvia slides to gray scale and printing on an epson. It published the most rediculous review I've ever read. The guy waxed and gushed about some tanning developer for two pages, then mentions that he hasn't printed any of his negs yet, wouldn't use a wet darkroom to do so, but the negs "scanned beautifully". WTF? Steve Anchell edits an all analogue magazine, but the writing is pretty weak. I'd prefer to read Simmons.
Magazines also speak to their time. there isn't enough of an audience who wants to hear about the "half stop underexposure that results from using a leaf shutter at 1/500 sec at small apertures." During the '30s, half of every Scientific American magazine was articles about grinding your own telescope mirror. People who want to do that today will find a niche publication or website.
Like it or not, and for good or ill, photography is becoming a digital medium. 50% of Ilford's sales (the most black and white dependent manufacturer) sales comes from its sales of digital printing paper. In the smaller formats there will be digital capture and output. In the larger, film scans and digital output. People who subscribe to these magazines want to know about both analogue and digital, and its a tough balancing act for a publisher.
As an analogue photographer, I'm glad to see the glass as half full. Next year it will be 25% full.
I sincerely hope that the previous post is excessively pessimistic. However, I can not say for sure. Time will obviously determine the accuracy and validity of that viewpoint. I think that some excellent points were made by both gentlemen. I still think that digital has a long way to go before it can approximate, let alone better, the silver print.
I no longer shoot color materials and quite honestly care very little about the 50X enlargements of the portions of the latest color emulsion prints that attempt to digitally (in the magazine publication) render the relative color balance, granularity, and resolving ability of the film. So from my selfish and limited viewpoint I have already willingly killed one aspect of analog photography in the publications. I imagine that there are color photographers that would just as easily knock off black and white as well.
Ultimately, in the field of publication, the driving force is revenue. That revenue must come from one of two places, either from advertisers or subscribers. How many of you would willingly spend 4 or 5 times the amount of the present publications, that you read, to have a non-digital publication?
I don't want my initial post taken as a slight against Steve Simmons. I agree he does a great job and I eagerly look forward to View Camera every couple of months. His editorial choice of portfolios and images always provides some welcome suprises.
It just seems that one day you will go to the magazine rack or mailbox and find all the image content is digital. I guess if that day comes, print exchanges, traveling portfolios and postcard exchanges or purchase will be the only means of seeing new and varying work.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
This kind of response has come up in the past when Simmons has done predominantly digital issues of _View Camera_, and he's responded that he feels the magazine should reflect the field in all its aspects, and that just because there is sometimes a digital-oriented issue, it doesn't mean that film is being abandoned, any more than the fact that he has done a Polaroid feature issue doesn't mean that negative and transparency film is being abandoned. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Steve Simmons doesn't seem to have lost interest in film.
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The obvious end result is a reader supported magazine. They tend to be more expensive then ad supported mags but I tend to think they're better. The question then becomes are enough people willing to pay the $$ per issue.
I think _LensWork_ is headed in that direction. I believe the editor mentioned that advertising (except for their own products and publications) would be phased out as contracts expired.
I don't think View Camera magazine will be affected the same way, since it deals with a specific niche anyway, and is more reader supported than ad supported (I think). I also don't think that large (or medium) format cameras will die out or slow down. Probably a lot of you are around the same age I am, and finally have reached a point where we can afford to do things that we have put off for years (like trying different formats). It's not a fad or craze, just something that had been on the back burner before for financial reasons. Recently I also read about a backlash in the digi area. Digital is always getting better, but the really good stuff still costs, and just like any other tool, is better/worse at some things than others. It still comes down to using the right tool for the job.
What a great thread.
I used to LOVE View Camera, and I used to like Camera Arts. For years I knew no other LF practitioners so EVERY piece of information I got about the niche was from VC Magazine. I would find it in the mailbox every other month (an excruciating time to wait) and begin thumbing through it before even putting down the rest of the mail and my keys.
Then I found Tuan's site. Then Greenspun's forum. Then Ed Buffaloe's. Michael & Paula's. Then APUG.
And now, I have to tell you, last month's issue of VC magazine is the first one I have picked up in months. Because of resources like APUG I just don't need it like I once did. I used to patiently suffer through portfolios of still lifes or pola transfers, etc, waiting for months for landscapes or portraits or something a little more relevant to me to be published. Now I just turn on the computer, search around, come here, go there, and I get more than I EVER got from the magazine.
So here's my real comment: I think View Camera magazine, angalog, is being replaced by places like this, digital. There are fewer pictures here but there is SO MUCH MORE information. And it's customized. Just yesterday I asked about a $850 Red Dot Artar and got 10 good, informative responses within 24 hours. How could VC or Camera Arts or any other magazine ever compete with THAT?
For Steve Simmons, there is a balance. He needs advertisers to pay for the magazine. But he needs an audience that will buy his advertisers' products. And his ability to attract and hold readers is 100% dependant on how informative and relevant and entertaining his magazines are to us.
View Camera and Camera Arts are less of all three to me. So I am one less reader he is able to sell to his advertisers. Now he needs me to be replaced by someone new who finds his magazines informative, entertaining, and relevant, or he needs to change his magazines to become informative, entertaining, and relevant to a whole new (and growing, instead of plateauing or dwindling) audience.
Which, it looks like, he is doing.