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N80

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Black and White Magazine
« on: September 15, 2016, 11:11:38 AM »

I wasn't sure where to post this but Black and White Magazine is primarily aimed at collectors of black and white art prints. I'm just wondering if anyone else here subscribes to it and if so what they're take on the current quality of the magazine is.

I've read B&W magazine for years off and on, buying it from the newsstand a few times a year. Over the years I've been impressed with the quality of the magazine both in terms of print quality, artists represented and written content. It has served as a source of inspiration as well. I've kept all my old issues. Recently I was at the newsstand and picked up the latest issue. The image quality looked the same but the magazine was quite thin and seemed to be light on content. Some of my older issues look and feel more like a book. I did not purchase it. Single issues are not cheap. In the past they were worth it. Not so sure now. I have requested a free trial issue which comes with a subscription if you choose.

Just wondering if any subscribers have noticed a decline in volume, content and or quality.
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George

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 12:09:25 PM »

Hi N,

Do you actually have a name?

I've been a subscriber to B&W for many years. For a while there also was a Color mag from the same folks. Then they combined it with B&W to make it B&W and Color. Finally, they went back to straight B&W.

I used to pay 'em to display some of my stuff as ads in quarter-pages in the back of the mag. Never made a nickel on that, but it was sort of fun.

In my estimation they've been going down hill. It's obvious that their advertising revenue has dropped off significantly. There used to be many pages of half and quarter page ads in the back of the mag. Now they're lucky if they can cover two pages. I think the quality of the content has dropped off too. Unfortunately, it's one of the very few mags out there that works at showing photographs instead of equipment, so I'm going to keep my subscription -- at least for now. I think they're trying. Unfortunately the unfree-enterprise economy for the past eight years has been a bomb for outfits like B&W.

Rob C

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2016, 02:44:57 PM »

I bought the magazine for quite a few years, and then stopped, and that was also a good few years ago.

I might be mistaken in what I have to write - but it's being written in good faith.

When I started to buy, I was quite impressed by the print quality, and also by the idea that I understood to lie behind its concept: a showcase of work for the attention of 'collectors' - as such. Later on, I started to see that I was perhaps thinking whilst wearing rose-tints: the real purpose, it started to appear, was to sell magazines like any other company selling magazines, but playing to the aspirations of a possibly higher-skilled group of photographers than some of the mainstream magazines which, in my view, sank into being little more than sponsored travel agencies for organized photo-shoots.

I didn't advertise myself regarding print sales - I wasn't doing digital and had no darkroom anymore; if not printed personally, I see very little photographer's art in the print: it's just a product, an artifact of a third party: you might as well just go buy books or magazines; nobody in his right mind sees an Adams monograph in quite the same manner as he would an Adams 'vintage' print, would he?

At one stage, I got in touch with a chap whose advertisement I'd noticed a few times, and he was forthcoming enough to admit that no sales had resulted from his placements.

Somewhere along the time-line, ownership was transferred due to reasons that seemed plausible at the time, but which seemed to mean that it wasn't making enough money at that stage to stand on its own two feet, and so external interest was required. Which is fair enough - happens with lots of companies.

But, it ended up - in my mind - as being little to do with collectors who, I'd imagine, deal with galleries/dealers and not through magazines such as B&W was.

It was already an expensive magazine to buy; it's charges for competion entries were quite high, and more and more I got the impression that it was actually all about milking photographers trying to get into the art market. Such people were simply its core buyers. And fair enough: every product is designed to a market.

And then, on top of that, you must add the present-day situation where, as with stock photography, the market is drowning under the weight of 'art photography prints' being flogged all over the Internet. (That some contributors to LuLa manage to sell their work that way doesn't make all that much difference to the overall picture.)

It might also have something to do with decorative overkill: I would never have believed that Athena would go tits up, and they were selling much cheaper yet good quality photography. As people realise they ain't gonna make any money out of their hobby, perhaps they also stop financing those selling them their dream.

As I wrote, I could be entirely mistaken, but that's how I see the situation regarding the magazine. I can't comment on its current state - it's been years since I saw, never mind bought it.

Rob
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 02:48:23 PM by Rob C »
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RSL

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2016, 03:44:23 PM »

I think Rob, as usual, pretty much put his finger on the situation. As he says, every magazine is in business. It's not there to make you feel good. If you were advertising in B&W you were dealing with Ginny Greenfield, and Ginny was -- and probably still is -- pleasant to deal with and a very good saleswoman.

But unlike equipment catalogues such as Popular Photography and Shutterbug, B&W concentrates on photographs. That's unusual in this field, and I think it needs to be encouraged. The other mag that sticks with photographs is LensWork, but LensWork insists on printing the same old static stuff that was a big deal in the days of 11 x 14 view cameras. Atget would be right at home with LensWork. Brooks Jensen admits he doesn't understand street photography, which is unfortunate because the magazine could be a real winner if its contents were relaxed a bit to include interactions between humans and their environment. Its printing quality is on a higher plane than that in B&W. Brooks is a perfectionist, which makes for wonderful reproductions but may explain why he doesn't understand street.

All of which reminds me. Five years ago, in the March 2011 issue of B&W I won a Spotlight award and got a four-page spread of street shots I'd made in Korea in 1953. Forgot all about it until after I'd posted my earlier comment. You're right, Rob, they tap you pretty steeply for your entries, but when you win one it can be a lot of fun. On the other hand, anybody who believes getting published in a photo magazine is an economic winner should contact me about a bridge I have for sale.

N80

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2016, 05:40:44 PM »

I never got the "in it only for the money" vibe. As mentioned, the magazine is a business. It has to make money. And apparently now it is not. I will probably subscribe for a year and see how it goes. Thumbing through my old issues is still a joy. I personally felt it was the best photography magazine out there for the last 5-10 years. Everything else is a glorified Adorama catalog.

I noticed the ads in the back were falling off several years ago. I enjoyed looking at those. Considered putting one in myself just as a vanity. They were relatively cheap.

I have no conspiracy theories about its decline. The magazine industry has been tanking for some time now. Other than B&W I cannot find a single other photography magazine that even remotely interests me. I can get better reviews and catalogs on line. I think that to interest me a photography magazine is going to have to be heavy in high quality images. And that's expensive. I'd love any recommendations regarding photography magazines.

I currently subscribe to three magazines. Garden and Gun is a magazine ostensibly about southern life and culture. It is mostly a collection of cliche's, pretentiousness and people trying too hard to look rich and southern. But it has its charms and it is well done and beautiful to look at. My wife is the one who subscribes. Then there is Motorsport, out of Britain, which might be the highest quality monthly magazine ever. It also is probably the most expensive at close to $100 a year. Finally, I get Grassroots Motorsports which is a thriving mom-and-pop outfit out of Florida which is defying the odds of the magazine industry. It is ad heavy but the content is good and the journalists are down to earth, friendly, honest and experienced.

To me the decline of the magazine industry is sad. I much prefer a real magazine to the online experience.

I'd love to see B&W Magazine make a revival. It has generally been for the collector and appreciator of fine art and historic B&W photography. I wonder if that is just too small of a market and I suspect it is one that is declining or at least thoroughly marginalized. The magazine has been almost dogmatic in its avoidance of issues regarding equipment and technique, which is admittedly refreshing. But, I have to wonder if they brought a little of that into the content if they couldn't get more sponsors and more readers. I wouldn't be looking for how-to articles but deep discussion with photographers about their equipment, technique and locations would be enjoyable along with biography and personal inspiration type content.
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George

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Rob C

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2016, 03:58:58 AM »

I never got the "in it only for the money" vibe. As mentioned, the magazine is a business. It has to make money. And apparently now it is not. I will probably subscribe for a year and see how it goes. Thumbing through my old issues is still a joy. I personally felt it was the best photography magazine out there for the last 5-10 years. Everything else is a glorified Adorama catalog.

I noticed the ads in the back were falling off several years ago. I enjoyed looking at those. Considered putting one in myself just as a vanity. They were relatively cheap.

I have no conspiracy theories about its decline. The magazine industry has been tanking for some time now. Other than B&W I cannot find a single other photography magazine that even remotely interests me. I can get better reviews and catalogs on line. I think that to interest me a photography magazine is going to have to be heavy in high quality images. And that's expensive. I'd love any recommendations regarding photography magazines.

I currently subscribe to three magazines. Garden and Gun is a magazine ostensibly about southern life and culture. It is mostly a collection of cliche's, pretentiousness and people trying too hard to look rich and southern. But it has its charms and it is well done and beautiful to look at. My wife is the one who subscribes. Then there is Motorsport, out of Britain, which might be the highest quality monthly magazine ever. It also is probably the most expensive at close to $100 a year. Finally, I get Grassroots Motorsports which is a thriving mom-and-pop outfit out of Florida which is defying the odds of the magazine industry. It is ad heavy but the content is good and the journalists are down to earth, friendly, honest and experienced.

To me the decline of the magazine industry is sad. I much prefer a real magazine to the online experience.

I'd love to see B&W Magazine make a revival. It has generally been for the collector and appreciator of fine art and historic B&W photography. I wonder if that is just too small of a market and I suspect it is one that is declining or at least thoroughly marginalized. The magazine has been almost dogmatic in its avoidance of issues regarding equipment and technique, which is admittedly refreshing. But, I have to wonder if they brought a little of that into the content if they couldn't get more sponsors and more readers. I wouldn't be looking for how-to articles but deep discussion with photographers about their equipment, technique and locations would be enjoyable along with biography and personal inspiration type content.


But that would blow the 'collector's choice' cover/ambition. Why would collectors give a hoot about that equipment aspect or the 'feelings' of anonymous photographers? It's the art that's supposed to attract them, perish the thought it's about hedging money!

Getting into gearhead territory would be the final nail, the suicidal admission of failure to be an art organ.

God, Mammon. No room for both.

Rob C

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2016, 06:29:18 AM »

It's a vanity-print magazine.

GrahamBy

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2016, 07:15:13 AM »

It used to make it to my favourite bookshop in Melbourne. It was good enough that I'd always pick it up and leaf through, but I don't think I ever bought a copy.

It was significantly out-done by a local mag "(not only) Black and White". That had a more traditional business model: trendy/luxury ads, high quality photos with regularly one male nude and one female nude article using celebrity models, plus articles on famous photographers (something like the French Photo mag), very high quality production. No equipment discussions.

It managed to survive quite a few years and I still have the 30 or so copies I bought, despite moving across the globe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black%2BWhite

(Wow, I see it was 23 years ago that it started. I think I have all the first 10 or so. It was still running at the time of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, did a special edition on the athletes... so it had quite a decent life-span. It eventually started to run out of energy and died in 2007, so 15 years)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 07:23:23 AM by GrahamBy »
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N80

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2016, 08:32:26 AM »


But that would blow the 'collector's choice' cover/ambition. Why would collectors give a hoot about that equipment aspect or the 'feelings' of anonymous photographers? It's the art that's supposed to attract them, perish the thought it's about hedging money!

Again, I have not seen or felt an undue influence on profits from the magazine. It has to make money or be subsidized or it fails to exist. And I'd rather it not exist than be subsidized. And it is clear that the collectors and afficionados are not keeping the magazine afloat.

Quote
Getting into gearhead territory would be the final nail, the suicidal admission of failure to be an art organ.

Yes. But the final nail seems to have already been struck. They have little to lose. And if their loyalty is toward collectors who haven't maintained their support then their loyalty seems misplaced.

Quote
God, Mammon. No room for both.

Rob C

Quite right. But art and mammon have ALWAYS existed quite comfortably together. And I'm not suggesting that they turn it into an equipment rag. Just broaden a little. Or fade away.
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George

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N80

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2016, 08:33:03 AM »

It's a vanity-print magazine.

It might be now. It was not 5 years ago.
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George

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Rob C

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2016, 08:46:49 AM »

It might be now. It was not 5 years ago.

But I certainly felt that it was a few years before that! I stopped buying maybe at least ten or more years ago so don't know what happened in between.

Rob C

Rob C

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2016, 09:02:18 AM »



It was significantly out-done by a local mag "(not only) Black and White". That had a more traditional business model: trendy/luxury ads, high quality photos with regularly one male nude and one female nude article using celebrity models, plus articles on famous photographers (something like the French Photo mag), very high quality production. No equipment discussions.



I loved French PHOTO both for the magazine's content as for its help in keeping schoolboy French alive in my head! Did you ever get the American version? I think it was a merge with Modern Photography or American Photography or similar title. For a while, I bought both, and it was ammusing to see them play politics and situation ethics with the Ten most Influential Photographer lists (could have been 100 instead of 10...)! There appeared to be different takes on the names... ;-)

In the end, I gave up the entire magazine-buying concept, not for any pressing reason other than eventual boredom and what I saw as increasing desperation mixed with growing ego in some of the directorial heads.

This is a spin-off; you may recognize a name or two:

http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/what-is-the-eye-of-photography/

Rob

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 09:18:08 AM »

I had to go back and look through my own collection to find out when B&W was at its peak. That was obviously August 2010, when the Portfolio Contest Awards issue gave me a two-page spread.   ;)

Other fine photo magazines of times past include Creative Camera (England) (especially July 1970 which included images by me and a guy named Atget), and Camera (Switzerland) (peak issue: June 1970).

Ah, the good old days!  8)
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N80

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2016, 10:00:58 AM »

I had to go back and look through my own collection to find out when B&W was at its peak. That was obviously August 2010, when the Portfolio Contest Awards issue gave me a two-page spread.   ;)

Other fine photo magazines of times past include Creative Camera (England) (especially July 1970 which included images by me and a guy named Atget), and Camera (Switzerland) (peak issue: June 1970).

Ah, the good old days!  8)

I bet I have the August 2010 issue. I will look you up!

So, Eric, as someone who has been published in B&W and rubbed magazine elbows with the likes of Atget, what would you think about B&W magazine at least dabbling in the equipment and technique side of things? It might put off the purist collectors and it might lead the magazine down the road of the typical photo magazines that I refer to as magalogs. But, it would certainly appeal to a broader base and would undoubtedly open them to a broader range of potential sponsors.
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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2016, 10:18:17 AM »

It's a vanity-print magazine.

Hi Slobodan, I have to ask: "So what?" What matters is the quality of the images in any art-oriented magazine -- painting, prints, photography, you name it. By quality I don't mean just print quality.

There was another "vanity-print" magazine that ran for a while alongside B&W: "Focus," put out by David Spivak. It was pure vanity-print. I paid for a five-page spread in the December 2006 issue. I've never really regretted it. I got exactly what I paid for. I'd like to say that I got a flood of orders for prints as a result of that spread, but that would be like a sales pitch for my bridge. The quality of the images in that magazine was, if anything, equal to or better than the quality in LensWork (at the time).

Alas, Focus simply didn't make it. There was a huge outcry from some folks who felt that having to pay to show your stuff in a magazine was an immoral ripoff, and David got a bad name in the community. What horse-hockey. In most cases, if you're not a famous photographer you're going to pay with money. If you are a famous photographer you're gonna pay by lending your name and reputation to the mag.

There's a market for "vanity-print" stuff. Lately David Spivak's been trying to make a comeback with an online publication. That one ain't gonna make it either. Thing is that with the web you can do it yourself if you're willing to learn the processes. But you can't fault David for trying. And there's a market for vanity out there.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 03:25:20 PM by RSL »
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JNB_Rare

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2016, 11:16:22 AM »

Looks like there are at least 3 "Black and White" magazines. I believe most posters are writing about B&W Magazine (http://www.bandwmag.com/).

I used to purchase this regularly, but haven't for a few years, now. The last two Portfolio and Single Image Contest issues that I purchased (I don't remember what year) were disappointing to me. It seemed as if there was a lot of the "same old, same old" stuff, and trends. Something new can be very interesting. Something that becomes a trend starts to become boring. Like the 'dreamscape' trend. Or over-reliance on razor-thin depth of field. A close-crop photo of a dog's face with only the left nostril sharp may still be interesting to some, but I've seen way too much of it.

I used to enjoy the Black + White Photography magazine out of England (Black + White). There were some good articles and interesting portfolios. When I lived in Toronto, one bookstore carried it. Now I live in rural Nova Scotia and it's unavailable except by subscription, and the postal rates make it not worth my while. (Ditto for Lenswork). *

Graham mentioned Black+White (here are some covers) which is something I've never seen in Canada.

* A little rant: AMAZON sent me three cast iron skillets, super-sale priced, with FREE shipping. I can just imagine what it would cost ME if I took a parcel of the same weight and size to the post office or courier company.

GrahamBy

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Re: Black and White Magazine
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2016, 04:54:07 PM »


Graham mentioned Black+White (here are some covers) which is something I've never seen in Canada.

I still have all the 6 on the left :)
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