I have a pile of B&W magazines in a cupboard, not alongside a taller pile of French Photo and Amercan Photo which lives in another room, but a pile nonetheless.
I have stopped buying any of these magazines and with the two versions of Photo, I´m in the proces of re-reading each once and then dumping them into the recycle bin. I look at the mass of paper, think of what it actually cost both the planet and my wallet, and then try very hard to evaluate the benefits I might have gained from spending the money.
Frankly, B&W will be following the procession later; my purchase there started with great interest and then dwindled with accumulated disappointment at what I eventually saw to be a beauty parade of naked emperors celebrating, broadly, the same clichés.
That this is the fault of the publishers is a moot point. As with all magazines, there is a cyclical element involved which, once you´ve run the cycle becomes repetition. With the two versions of Photo, my gripe was that the US one seemed to be but a dumbed down version of its French sister with too many advertising tie-ups with travel etc, with revues of very basic kit and a terribly home-based bias in its featuring of photographers.
As far as French Photo was concerned, it remained a more pleasing magazine (to me - all subjective opinion, nothing more) but even there, I grew weary of the Reader Contest stuff and the fairly predictable fare I could expect.
(Looking back, through the doubtful filter of time and memory, it seems to me that the most worthwhile photo mag collection that I ever managed to gather together consisted of the Popular Photography Annuals that used to be published - there were two: the straight one and another, Popular Photography Color Annual. Sadly, I threw all of that away when I moved from Britain to Spain. As sadly, I gather that those annuals are no longer published and that even the parent Pop Phot has changed ownership some times over the years.)
In the end, I came to realise that for me, it would be better to buy the occassional magazine on whim rather than to place standing orders. I found, in practice, that I have not even felt interested in buying anything like that in a couple of years. What I have realised, instead, is that there is no substitute to getting your head around a project, whatever it might be, however trite, and going for it yourself. It is much more rewarding in personal terms than any amount of gawping at other peoples´work.
It might be different for other people, but I come at it from the direction of a retired pro with the experience that without a commission there was very little reason to load a camera.
This might sound strange as I became a pro for the simple reason that there was nothing else in life that I could imagine doing for the duration, not because of unsuitability for anything else on an academic level, but because there was always the obsession with the camera, the inner conviction that it was the ideal vehicle for my personal fulfillment. And so it proved. The difficulty came later - finding a niche within the medium that would not just evaporate the material benefits accrued through the career but still provide the creative buzz that makes it all worthwhile.
I think I´ve found it.
Ciao - Rob C