Can Photography Save Publishing?

- - Magazines

Here’s an argument for Roger Black’s template design in magazines that I found on
POP Photographers on Photography.

JB: The predictability of the grid allows the photography to break free of the expected.

TM: Yes, they use a repeated, somewhat predictable and definite grid and style. You kind of recognize it so the focus goes back to the photography because you know what to expect of the typography. If you’re constantly up and down and all over the place, it becomes why is this photo up here? And then the photography can’t be exciting because it needs to anchor the page. When you have a structure, it becomes about the content and you forget about the design.

Maybe we will start seeing DOP’s on top of the masthead just below the editor.


There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. My thoughts are similar, but with a slightly different approach. Look at what blog and website themes have done. Generally they raise the absolute bottom of the page design scale, without adversely affecting the top. If anything, setting basic standards of layout and flow in templates sort of highlights the quality of the content. It also emphasizes where the best layout designers will stand out, because it becomes easy to tell who just used the template and who made the effort to do something really interesting and provocative. Does that help me as a photographer? I suppose that depends too. Is a special image is integral and substantial to telling the story, or is the photograph just filler for an empty space in the template?

    To me, I see a lot of weak content hidden behind flashy production, and a lot of great content hindered by relatively weak production. If good design rules are upheld through templates, then maybe content can actually be king (again?)

    I suppose that’s a glass-half-full way of looking at it.

  2. Sounds a little like wishful thinking but I can wish right there with the best of them. Additionally, my hope is that better screen technology, higher resolution, higher bandwidth, etc. – quality imagery will start to become more important.

  3. Swiss Grid, or any grid based design, creates order, and therein is the appeal. A great example of controlling ad page content has been Wallpaper* magazine, who critiqued and guided their ad content from the beginning. Certainly it works, though I don’t think many publications can pull it off consistently.

    Few magazines pay well for photography, and often it can simply be a showcase to lure in more lucrative ad work. Think of it more like the music business, where the music is too accessible, much like the content of magazines, but sometimes there are higher paying gigs after someone with a better budget discovers what you do.

    Magazines and photographers are a symbiotic relationship. We need each other in order to grow and prosper.

  4. This is what modernist design was in the 50s and 60s.

    Watch the movie Helvetica (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon) and the comments and work by Wim Crouwel.

    or the free clip here:

    It is all about neutrality. Want neutrality? Hire a designer that works that way.

    Except, really, it is actually not neutral in the sense that, by being neutral, the designer positions themselves in a particular (now) historical and visual context and sometimes agenda. That of Modernism. And Modernism is far less neutral than most other methods of page layout and design.

    BTW: I’m a modernist but more along the lines of this other great designer

    The art and photography books Grear designed are a kind of true neutral Modernism with a humanist touch.

  5. Once bean counters are on board nothing but huge investments from the state can save a company. It happened to the Airlines which are making profits out of government money. It happened to the car industry which is making tiny profits compared to what they received. Same is just going for the press. The only difference is their ability to move the masses which is tempting to various groups. So, for the moment, they are going to be ok because of huge fund injections. And they are going to die the moment it is “scientifically proven” that the internet can have the same influence (or even better). So they are living on stolen time. And photography at a dime a dozen isn’t going to help anything even if things were a lot different.