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Author Topic: 'Popular Photography' magazine and PopPhoto.com to close after nearly 80 years  (Read 1510 times)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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https://www.dpreview.com/news/8050322576/popular-photography-magazine-and-popphoto-com-to-close-after-nearly-80-years

I was just going through it the other day and commenting to myself how the content has improved, both thematically and visually :(

Kevin Gallagher

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 I saw that too, so sad, but not unexpected in this age of instant information. BTW did you see the video I sent you of "Tommy" and I?  ;)

Kevin in CT
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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...BTW did you see the video I sent you of "Tommy" and I?  ;)

I did, and replied via your email :)

JoeKitchen

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The whole publishing industry is dead, or at least totally and completely changed. 

I was speaking to an older architectural photographer recently and he said in the early 90s he was getting $1600 for a shoot with Architectural Digest, two or three times a month.  Plus, all travel, meals and film (which he brought 200 ready load daylight and 200 ready tungsten sheets) were covered.  Good luck getting that today.   

Last week I had lunch with a rep who use to work in the magazine industry.  He says the same thing; publishing is just not recovering at all. 
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
“Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”  William Faulkner

Rob C

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That's sad but understandable.

I hardly remember the magazine at all - saw very few - but did manage to locate and buy many of the annuals that came out; some years there were two: Photography Annual and Color Annual.

I had to go haunt the kiosk at Glasgow's Central Station all the time during the season when they were about due. I wonder if it's still there.

The thing about those annuals in the late 50s/early 60s was that they were a magnificent introduction to many photographers (Saul Leiter, W. Eugene Smith, Ernst Haas) I'd never have heard of in the UK. There was only one great UK photographic magazine at the time: Photography, edited by Norman  Hall. That's where I picked up on HC-B, Brassai, Horvat, all of those greats working out of Paris. UK mags like Amateur Photographer were also helpful, but on an entirely different level: we moved into a house previously owned by a photographer when I was sixteen. He had left piles of APs in a cupboard beneath the stairs. I read 'em all, and learned so much about basic film and print processing and camera exposure therein. (That's just one more reason why I believe in predestination, and what's for you not going past you.)

Thing is, those Popular Photography Annuals were all about images and fantastic photographers, not technique. Meanwhile, back in the UK, AP was still printing pictures of guys dressed in heavy, ribbed sweaters, sitting, smoking pipes, and looking intently into the far distance of the studio wall. Karsh was still a hero for them.

Death of print? Probably, yes. Remove advertising and print becomes impossibly expensive to sell on cover price. I never produced magazines, of course, but I did produce a lot of calendars, and the maths was horrific, even back in the 80s. I used to 'joke' that I was in business to keep printers in business. But where does it end?

I accept the Luddite Prize of the month; no problem there at all! What we are seeing today is the path we have begun walking into the cul-de-sac called Redundant. When all of us get there, when we have all forgotten how to do anything from first principles, then what?

Jim Kasson

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https://www.dpreview.com/news/8050322576/popular-photography-magazine-and-popphoto-com-to-close-after-nearly-80-years

I was just going through it the other day and commenting to myself how the content has improved, both thematically and visually :(

Sad. I've been a reader since 1957. And I, too, liked the more crafty direction they were heading at the end.

The handwriting's on wall. Fortune used to be thick and big, now it's normal size and skinny. AutoWeek isn't a weekly any more.

And I apologize for anything that I did to cause the timing of the end: I just renewed my subscription.

Jim

Telecaster

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I suppose we always think of the norms & artifacts of our time as permanent when in fact they're every bit as transitory as the forgotten or discarded norms & artifacts of the relatively recent past. Imagine the reaction of a 10th Century Viking to a 21st Century time traveler telling her/him that not only do we no longer navigate the sea in longships but we no longer worship Odin, Thor, etc. And haven't done so in centuries. "Sorry, dude, but your entire way of life is just some words & images in our equivalent of one of your Runestones. And some day, in the not too distant future, my way of life will become the same."

We're all living through the transition from analog to digital technology. New things get created while many old things get discarded. My Aunt Anna, born in the late 1890s, remembered what her hometown was like before "motorcars," not to mention what life overall was like before 78 RPM records, TV, etc. She rolled with it just fine. So can we.  :)

-Dave-
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Every time I walk into a Barnes & Noble, I am in awe of the sheer number and variety of magazines on the shelves. Who on earth reads all that, let alone pays for it!? Every conceivable subject of human interest is covered by at least a half a dozen magazines. Not just woodworks, but woodwork tools have separate magazines. Historic locomotives, modern locomotives, model trains, etc. I pay for my coffee and then read 5-10 photographic magazines while sipping it. For free. Ok, I understand that ads are what keeps magazines alive, not subscriptions or newsstand sales, but apparently, not enough people are reading them anymore, even for free.

Osprey

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I've been a subscriber since the early 2000s. Still a fun throway magazine with the occasional really nicely done article. It is sad, though I never felt bad throwing the magazine away when I was done with it. On the other hand, I kept my  American Photo magazines, which I still miss. . 
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Rob C

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American Photo. Unless I'm thinking of something else, it was taken over by Filipacchi, the media conglomerate that owns/ed(?) French Photo. It was funny to buy both versions here, and to see their lists of "most influential photographers"; seems the lists were tailored to the national publishing base! Few names were common to both lists.

I still have a few of the French versions of the magazine, but never look at them unless I have to empty the cabinet in which they live because I have to access the back of the tv set and the various electronic boxes that also live on that piece of furniture which is full of books. It's too heavy to drag over carpet, so emptying is the only way to move it and get space to see and to meddle without really knowing what the hell I'm doing. Back-breaking toil for oldies like me! Twice: it all has to be replaced.

;-)

Rob

GrahamBy

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I used to buy motorcycle magazines, until I realised that almost all of their "tests" were PR-driven puff-pieces, and their international race reports were very lightly edited versions of the articles made available on the organiser's web site (which was soon closed off and restricted to "accredited" journalists).

However, at least a couple of them were genuinely covering local race series... whose viability has crashed since people no longer read the reports since they no longer need to buy the mags to read about the international races. And of course there are now so many world-championship events available to stream at HD resolution, that there is little interest in going out to stand in a paddock watching bikes flash past once per lap.

It's not about digital vs analogue, it's about distribution and globalisation: one global source of everything is more or less sufficient, and so local replicates die out. Same story for media, musicians, photographers... even programmers and actuaries. So ever more concentration of wealth and the destruction of the middle class.

Interesting times.
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bjanes

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I used to buy motorcycle magazines, until I realised that almost all of their "tests" were PR-driven puff-pieces, and their international race reports were very lightly edited versions of the articles made available on the organiser's web site (which was soon closed off and restricted to "accredited" journalists).

That reminds me of Modern Photography, which ceased publication years ago and, I believe, merged with Popular Photography. One of their technical editors was Herbert Keppler, who wrote some good stuff but never had an unkind word about an advertiser's products.

A popular Nikon lens at that time was the Nikkor 43-86 lens reviewed by Bjorn in the link below. This was one of the worst zoom lenses, and gave zoom lenses a bad reputation. Modern Photography never reviewed this lens. An honest review would have steered potential buyers to a better product but would have pissed off Nikon. Mr Keppler said that the rationale for not printing unfavorable reviews was to avoid killing of a promising product before the maker had a chance to improve it.  :) Sure! They eventually did improve the lens, but I don't think it ever lived down the initial impressions.

http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_02.html#MF43-86
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 12:04:26 PM by bjanes »
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Otto Phocus

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One of the enduring advantages of magazines was portability.  You could easily carry a magazine with you and read it when you had a chance.  These days many people have some sort of electronic tablet/phone that allows them to access information while on the go.  That kinda killed the biggest advantage of magazines.

Plus publishing and shipping a printed magazine is expensive.  There are only two ways of recouping this expense

1.  Increase the subscription/cover price
2.  Increase the amount of advertisement/sponsorships

But as costs rise, there is a limit on increasing 1 and 2.

Which leaves the option of lowering the cost of the magazine.  Well the physical aspects of a magazine and the shipping have minimum costs (that keep increasing) so where else can one cut costs?

Reducing the costs of the content which is a self-defeating plan.

I am actually surprised that as many physical magazines exist as they do. 

It really is a obsolete venue.
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I shoot with a Camera Obscura with an optical device attached that refracts and transmits light.

Rob C

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Well, magazines may be on the way out because of digital's changes, but for me, it's not really the point: the point is repetition, which has already been mentioned here on this thread. One could be forgiven for thinking that it applies only to magazines in which we have a specialized sort of interest - hobby stuff, for example. Well, when she was fifteen, my girlfriend (later to be my wife) used to buy Woman and Woman's Own every week, until after some years she stopped, realising that they were on an endless, circular belt of female-related topics that went round and round in annual circles. You could pre-write the lot and insert them at any appropriate time in the season and nobody would know if they were current or rehash...

Having written that, I stopped buying magazines for another reason: they were no longer relevant to my life. I used to have an order for Vogue at the local newsagent for years, but the moment I stopped shooting much fashion and moved over to calendars, that purchase ceased. I suppose that the point about fashion magazines was that it kept one awake and alive to what other people were doing, trends and so forth, and one had to be up to date in that world.

But everything said and done, there is something about the tactile quality of a good magazine (or book) that does not replicate online. I still indulge in photographic books when one appeals strongly enough, despite one or two costly online burns!

Rob

RSL

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They still owe me 6 1/2 years of magazines.

Rob C

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They still owe me 6 1/2 years of magazines.

Now that's ambiguous!

Rob

Ray

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I suppose we always think of the norms & artifacts of our time as permanent when in fact they're every bit as transitory as the forgotten or discarded norms & artifacts of the relatively recent past. Imagine the reaction of a 10th Century Viking to a 21st Century time traveler telling her/him that not only do we no longer navigate the sea in longships but we no longer worship Odin, Thor, etc. And haven't done so in centuries. "Sorry, dude, but your entire way of life is just some words & images in our equivalent of one of your Runestones. And some day, in the not too distant future, my way of life will become the same."

We're all living through the transition from analog to digital technology. New things get created while many old things get discarded. My Aunt Anna, born in the late 1890s, remembered what her hometown was like before "motorcars," not to mention what life overall was like before 78 RPM records, TV, etc. She rolled with it just fine. So can we.  :)

-Dave-

+1

The only permanent thing is change.  ;)
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kers

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In the 1980’s i went to the library to read all the POPFoto tests on cameras and lenses.

They had this beautiful stripdown report, to see if the camera was built with good material and also found out if the camera still worked at -10 Celcius. (The Contax did not)

It was the time i decided to buy my first DSLR the Nikon FE; still have it.

Even now nobody runs these tests- as far as i know except stripdown lenses by Lens rentals.
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Pieter Kers
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Telecaster

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It's not about digital vs analogue, it's about distribution and globalisation: one global source of everything is more or less sufficient, and so local replicates die out. Same story for media, musicians, photographers... even programmers and actuaries. So ever more concentration of wealth and the destruction of the middle class.

Interesting times.

Yet this too is a short-term phenomenon. When any approach is taken to extremes it ceases to work…and the culture/society employing it changes course, whether willingly & smoothly or otherwise. That we humans fail to learn from past mistakes & mishaps should be obvious. We've been down the Gilded Age route before. Human history is riddled with demagogic/autocratic exploitation. Once great cultures destabilize and collapse while others degenerate and yet continue stumbling along. As long as we are what we are this will continue.

But wait *long enough and the whole crazy parade of it turns into, if it turns into anything, no more than a footnote in someone else's history text. A grain of sand on a vast beach. Even considering the possibility of this seems to fill most folks I know with horror, but I find it to be among the most delightful of things to contemplate.

-Dave-

*Thinking in terms of deep time accomplishes two things: it relieves you as an individual of the burden of self-importance; and it strips you as a species of long-term consequence. (Which is why it's so fiercely resisted by people who've invested themselves in stories of human centrality. Take away their stories and you eviscerate them.)
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Rob C

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Yet this too is a short-term phenomenon. When any approach is taken to extremes it ceases to work…and the culture/society employing it changes course, whether willingly & smoothly or otherwise. That we humans fail to learn from past mistakes & mishaps should be obvious. We've been down the Gilded Age route before. Human history is riddled with demagogic/autocratic exploitation. Once great cultures destabilize and collapse while others degenerate and yet continue stumbling along. As long as we are what we are this will continue.

But wait *long enough and the whole crazy parade of it turns into, if it turns into anything, no more than a footnote in someone else's history text. A grain of sand on a vast beach. Even considering the possibility of this seems to fill most folks I know with horror, but I find it to be among the most delightful of things to contemplate.

-Dave-

*Thinking in terms of deep time accomplishes two things: it relieves you as an individual of the burden of self-importance; and it strips you as a species of long-term consequence. (Which is why it's so fiercely resisted by people who've invested themselves in stories of human centrality. Take away their stories and you eviscerate them.)


Can't quite square with that one, Dave.

Everything impinges upon everything else, and so how can anyone just shrug and say it doesn't matter what we (I) do? Of course it matters, even down to the mess we are making of our environment through packaging and associated garbage.

Following the chain from factory through shop and then home, that plastic waste ends up in bins, on beaches, in the sea, in the food chain and right back in our own belly if we eat fish.
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