Getting Us Closer To The Truth In Photography

Harry Fisch organizes Travel Photography trips with Nomad Photo Expeditions and recently won the places category in the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest. 72 hours later he had lost it. The winning image was disqualified because he had removed a plastic bag in post. A blog post about what happened (read it here) has an email from the editor telling him that cropping the bag out or simply leaving it in would have had no impact, but digitally removing it violates the rules. Ouch. Harry is a good sport about it and concludes that had he been on the jury, he would have done the same saying, “rules are rules.”

Many people will argue that photography can never tell the truth. That the lens, image processing, where you stand, and what you chose to include in an image all alter the facts. This misses the point entirely. The point of truth telling in photography is for the photographer to make an image that gets us as close to the truth as they can. That is the goal. Now that the mechanical limitations of photography (film and printing) are gone we are less reliant on the camera to tell the truth, so that obligation falls on the photographer. You must build trust with your viewers and editors so they believe what you are saying.

This is an unusual position to be in, because photographers often relied on the camera and film to do this. Inherent imitations of the medium prevented them from doing too much to alter what happened (although many pushed it as far as it would go). Limitations may be returning to cameras. A new software development by the the human rights organization Witness aims to make it easiter to verify the authenticity of video, photos, or audio created and shared from mobile devices (story on Nieman Journalism Lab). “The app collects metadata that it will bundle and encrypt with your photo or video — including generating an encryption key based on the camera’s pattern of sensor noise, which is unique to each camera.”

The current practice of submitting RAW files for verification (to magazines and contests) may soon be assumed by software that does the verification for us. I expect this will be taken to the next logical step and any work that’s done in post will be recorded and encrypted by the software as well. Eventually news organizations and contests could set a “score” that’s some percentage of allowed manipulation to the pixels of an image that they consider ok. Maybe the software will disable certain tools used in post processing (this is Hal, I’ve disabled the clone tool). Regardless, the goal will be the same. Getting us closer to the truth. And the burden will return to the limitations of the software and not the photographer. That will be a good thing.

Update: the contest was incorrect [corrected], it was not Traveler’s but National Geographic magazine’s, which is officially called the National Geographic Photo Contest. And Harry Fisch was the Places Category Winner not the Grand Prize Winner of the overall contest [corrected].

PDN/Nielsen PIX Launch Derided By Its Target Audience Of Women Photographers

PDN/Nielsen launched a new magazine called PIX and Jezebel immediately picked up on the excessively girly and fluffy content in a post titled “Finally, Lady Photojournalists Get Their Own Photo Ladymag Full of Lady Stereotypes”:

  • “Smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera”
  • “Seasonal Flats: these flats will keep your feet covered, comfortable and cute while you’re on photo shoots”
  • “Step-by-Step: create these beautiful lanterns for your studio”
  • “Beauty Dish: New Jersey-based wedding photographer dishes about her camera-ready style”
  • “Photographing Newborns: A unique kind of labor”
  • “Couples at work, couples at home”
  • “In mint-condition: stay on trend with these green accessories”
  • “Lens Flare: Photography inspired accessories”
  • “Luminous Lenses: Shoot in style with these designer lens protection wraps”
  • “Hanging Tough: These camera straps are stylish yet tough just like you”

Nielsen issued a statement basically saying that they mistakenly used Photo District News in the sender line when the email went out and that this new magazine has nothing to do with professional photography and is geared specifically for photo enthusiasts (here).

On July 10th The Nielsen Photo Group, parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder and other publications and photography events, introduced a new, free digital magazine edition of PIX for photo enthusiasts. The content of this edition is specifically geared toward women who enjoy photography as a hobby, featuring articles and product suggestions intended to inspire women to shoot more and create better photographs.

An e-mail announcing PIX was sent to The Nielsen Photo Group’s entire audience including hobbyists, students, emerging and professional photographers. The e-mail introducing PIX mistakenly had the name Photo District News in the sender line.

It seems a little incongruous for a company that wants to be all about professional photography to get in the business of supporting photo enthusiasts and specifically going after the “Mom’s With A Camera” group. But, I guess that’s what happens when you have a corporate mother ship hovering over you.

Personally, I think it’s fine if Nielsen sees an opportunity to make money off the emerging category of MWAC’s I would just expect other titles in the family that think it’s BS to stand up and say so. A little mocking from the Pros is a good thing.

Michael Wolf – Peeping

Michael Wolf was not happy about a move to Paris that he had to make with his wife who had a job offer there in 2008. He felt that a city that had been photographed as much as Paris and was full of clichés had nothing to offer him as a photographer.

He started exploring the city using google street view, one thing led to the next and he started photographing the scenes he saw on the monitor. It turned out to be a totally different way of looking at the city.

He’s been asked many times “when does a google street view picture become a Michael Wolf picture” and he says “as soon as I determine how I crop the image.”

Find out more about Michael Wolf and his process in this fascinating profile by Foam:

More can be found on Foam For You.

Foam For You is an online resource which features professional photographers providing inspiration and advice for amateurs looking to improve their own work. At the core of Foam For You’s content is a series of extended films about the work of three internationally renowned artists: Michael Wolf (USA), Jessica Backhaus (GER) and Melanie Bonajo (NL). They have given Foam exclusive access to their working practice in three fifteen minute documentaries. They explain the thinking behind their work and, in particular, how it relates to themes taken from different issues of Foam Magazine, in which their work appeared.

National Magazine Awards 2012 Finalists Announced

GQ; Interview; National Geographic; Virginia Quarterly Review; Vogue

Harper’s Magazine for “Juvenile Injustice,” October Photographs by Richard Ross
Harper’s Magazine for “Uncertain Exodus,” July Photographs by Ed Ou
National Geographic for “Too Young to Wed,” June Photographs by Stephanie Sinclair
The New York Times Magazine for “From Zero to 104,” September 4 Photographs by Damon Winter
TIME for “Birds of Hope,” January 17 Photographs by James Nachtwey

National Geographic for “Taming the Wild,” March Photographs by Vincent J. Musi
The New York Times Magazine for “Touch of Evil,” December 11 Photographs by Alex Prager
TIME for “Portraits of Resilience,” September 19 Photographs by Marco Grob
Vogue for “Lady Be Good,” March Photographs by Steven Klein
W for “Planet Tilda,” August Photographs by Tim Walker

Congratulations to the photo departments and photographers involved. The rest of the finalists are (here).

Christopher Anderson- Return of the Staff Photographer

by Grayson Schaffer

On Tuesday, New York Magazine announced that it had signed longtime contributor and well-known photojournalist Christopher Anderson as the weekly magazine’s first-ever “photographer-in-residence.” In a statement released to the British Journal of Photography, New York said the 41-year-old Brooklyn-based shooter would tackle a “broad array of subjects in a full range of styles, from photojournalism to portraiture to conceptual work.” Anderson will now work exclusively for New York, at least where print magazines are concerned. The odd thing, here, is that the era of the staff photographer was supposed to have ended when National Geographic gradually moved away from the practice. We called Anderson to try and make sense of the sudden turn of events.

Grayson: Congrats. We thought the staff photographer position had gone the way of the film camera, what happened?
Christopher: I’ve had a close collaboration with [photography director] Jody Quon and [editor] Adam Moss for quite some time. They came to me and asked if I would consider taking this kind of position as an experiment—a way to reaffirm the magazine’s commitment to exciting photography. It’s a great opportunity.

Grayson: What are the specifics of the arrangement that you can share?
Christopher: The amount of time is, as of yet, undetermined. We’re going to see how it goes for at least a year.

Grayson: As much as you can produce for them? Are you like an all-you-can-eat buffet of photography?
Christopher: Well this is the real world, and of course they’re going to want to use me as much as they can. It is, in that sense, an all-you-can-eat buffet. But I don’t think that was the point. The idea wasn’t to say “Let’s put him on staff so we can use him up as much as we can.” The point was to have my undivided attention. We want to see if working together in a concentrated way like this can produce some interesting work over time.

Grayson: So it looks more like a professor’s chair than a hamster wheel.
Christopher: Right. They have my undivided attention, but I also have theirs. As a freelance photographer, you spend a lot of time trying to drum up business—shooting just to eat. Now I feel like I can focus on the creative side. I genuinely like working with that magazine, and I love the current projects they’re presenting me with. You might think your hands would be tied and you’re owned by them, but in a weird way I feel much freer.

Grayson: Why do you think staff jobs went away in the first place?
Christopher: There were never many to begin with, though there were some contracts. I used to be on contract at Newsweek. But the implosion of the publishing industry in general, and the photography industry specifically, led to the end of that practice. In the end, it’s cheaper for magazines to use freelancers. It makes economic sense.

Grayson: So how does this arrangement make economic sense?
Christopher: I don’t know that it does. It’s kind of an experiment. But my sense is it’s not about economics. It’s hard to put an exact price on the value of this kind of collaboration. This is more about a creative partnership. I think that they’ve looked at models of how this is done before, particularly by the New Yorker. That magazine has had a long tradition of staff photographers over the years: Richard Avedon, Gilles Peress… and I think this is sort of that New Yorker model where it’s about letting my identity stay independent, even though I’ll be attached to the magazine.

Grayson: They’ll probably end up with some great work to show for it.
Christopher: I hope that that will be true. I also hope that I can produce some great work for myself. I see this as a mutually beneficial relationship.

The 2011 Magazine A-List

Here’s the annual Advertising Age list of hot magazines for 2011:

No. 10: The Economist
“increased its paid subscriptions another 5% in the first half and grew total paid circulation 3%”

No. 9: This Old House
“custom video series for Walmart, Home Depot and Jim Beam helped increased digital revenue 25% year over year”.

No. 8: The New Yorker
“single-copy sales rose 1.2%, despite a $1 price hike”

No. 7: National Geographic
“Newsstand is up 5%; ad pages are up 14%”

No. 6: Monocle
“Revenue is rising; profitability arrived last year”

No. 5: Vanity Fair
“99% of Vanity Fair’s subscriptions are paid for directly by the subscriber”

No. 4: Garden & Gun
“ad-page growth on a tear, circulation still climbing and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence”

No. 3: Food Network Magazine
“ad pages through October surged 13.8%”

No. 2: Time
“16.1% newsstand gain”

The Magazine of the Year: Vogue
“increased its January-to-October ad pages more than 9% — to 2,125”

The Editor of the Year: Tyler Brule, editor in chief and chairman, Monocle magazine
“Monocle charts the media trend that’s e-free, profitable and going global.”

The Publisher of the Year: Kim Kelleher, worldwide publisher, Time

Interview With Sarah Rozen – Photography Director for Women’s Health

Heidi: The content for the health service magazine relies heavily on the art. How do you keep coming up with fresh ideas for the same stories?
Sarah: That’s one of the biggest challenges. We really work as a team on our art and photography. We also look to photographers to come up with creative, fresh ideas when we feel like we’ve hit a wall. But honestly, coming up with fresh ideas is one of the highlights of the job.

Are you part of the early editorial process?
Yes, I’m usually at the early planning meetings, along with my design director, Theresa Griggs, and we’ll shout and scream when we think the visuals are going to be amazing.

How much outdoor shooting do you do in L.A. during the winter, since you are on the East Coast?
We shoot a lot of our fitness features in L.A. or Florida during the winter months.

I saw that James White shot the cover for Men’s Health and your cover. How much crossover is there between the titles? Do you collaborate much?
Brenda Milis, the Men’s Health photo director, and I always enjoy working together. It’s fun to collaborate on a project for both magazines. Last year, we did joint covers with stars from the Twilight movies. We had Ashley Greene on our cover, and Men’s Health had Kellan Lutz. And each magazine used both stars for their fashion stories—Greene starred in the Women’s Health story, while Lutz starred in Men’s Health’s.

Are you looking for beauty photographers as well as fitness ones?
Yes, I love beauty photography. For example, I’m a huge fan of Donna Trope, who has shot for the magazine a few times. I like for our beauty photography to have a little humor or be a bit cheeky and not just be straight beauty, if it works for the story.


What resources do you use to find new talent besides e-mail and mail promos?
I look at ad campaigns, look books, Le Book creative, and portfolio reviews at schools. I love the way New York magazine found Danny Kim at a portfolio review. And just think about how many more talented people are out there! Also, I try to go to the current photo shows at the museums and galleries to get inspiration.

How much stock are you running?
I would say we run about 30 percent stock.

How often do you open e-mail promos, or is that relegated to other staff?
I always look at promos. But my staff is great about telling me when they see or meet someone they like.

If I want to shoot for you, what’s the best way to get your attention?
The best way is to e-mail me a few favorite shots and a link to an easy-to-navigate website. I’d much prefer an e-mail over a cold call.

BLINK Magazine Interview

front cover(right) : Todd Baxter back cover(left) : Chris Anthony

Blink magazine a labor of love by Korean native Kim Aram. The magazine features personal work by emerging, established and undiscovered photographers. Issue 5 has just been released.

Heidi: How do you select the images, do you choose a theme for each issue?

Kim: I trust myself. It’s simple, some work makes my heart beat really fast. I study it and ask myself: Are you going to spend $10,000 on this photograph? Even if I think I’d spend $1000, I would select it.  That said, we don’t pay for any of the images. I try and make sure that the images don’t bore me, gathering work for Blink is like collecting art for a gallery of sorts. I do have one rule: I don’t accept commissioned work. I accept only personal work. When selecting work, a resume, a career, receiving awards doesn’t affect my choices. I  sincerely love portraiture, I think the human being is the most interesting subject in this world. There are no themes for each issues. I actually considered it but thought that giving themes for each issues would put limitations on select artwork and there were already so many magazines doing that format with themes.


How many submissions would you say you turn down?
I turn down quite a few. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like their work. I just don’t want to be a lazy editor. I also have another rule, I promised by myself  to include one out of every 50 submissions for BLINK.  I try to pick just one or nothing among  the 50 It’s  just like non-objevtive promising. I can’t respond to  all of  the submissions. Please excuse me for that, I do respect all artists.

What in your eyes is the most exciting aspect of photography for you right now?
Everyone has camera now. It means everyone is able to take a photograph.
It seems like it’s a fair chance for everyone to be creative. That said,  it’s that tiny little  thing which not easy to achieve to make your photograph different. That is exciting. Artists need to have their own eye and point of view for creating their own world.

Suzanne Jongmans

Where can I find a copy of the magazine in the US? Or do I have to subscribe? Do you have a digital version as well?We are working on an ipad version of BLINK, so I will start to publish a digital version of BLINK but I am still examining it thoroughly because I believe in the high value of a paper magazine. You can get your own copy on the website at We have a safe and fast paypal and can send anywhere in the world.

I am making a distribution list for other countries now. The problem is it’s very expensive to ship. We don’t have a lot of money or a big staff. I do ALL the publishing for BLINK. I do the design layout, select the artwork, contact the artists, direct exhibitions, promotion, business, publisher’s talks at galleries and the marketing. I did send the magazine to art fairs and galleries because I really would love to give BLINK to people so they can feel the paper in their hands, see it with their own eyes. I know if they just grab BLINK, their next move is falling love with BLINK. Some people promised me they would bring BLINK to their venues. I was so naive, after receiving magazines, they didn’t contact me. I was disappointed in them and disappointed in myself. I really need some people I can trust.

Before doing this project, what did you do for a living?
I worked as the art editor for an art magazine called  PHOTO+. The  publisher of the magazine was crazy about MONEY. He always talked about MONEY, MONEY. He probably still does, and he didn’t respect art or the artists. I thought I was a part of his magazine but he said it’s all  his own and I am just his robot. One day I finished all my work and I decided that it’s time to quit. I said to him “bye fucker.” Photographers, don’t send your work to them.

Galleries and media in Korea are so miserable. They built their own art world which puts some distance between the public and art. Someone with money or professors come into power and the result is “boring!” They have to wake up. I am on a mission to build up brand awareness about BLINK.
We support young talented artists who can’t have opportunity to show their work to the world because of boring professors and directors, galleries, magazines here.

Mat Szwajkos

Were you always involved photography somehow?
When I was kid, I always trusted that I was an artist. Being a photographer was high priority but I had to let it go for financial reasons. (here, being artist much worse than other countries.) I spent less time making my own artwork,  I spent more time appreciating  artwork by other people. I began writing about photography too, just some impressions about their work. I did this for free and  I kept the focus positive. Art is so much about personal taste and preference. I do think photography is like poetry and one image can speak over a thousand words. Just like the old saying. hahaha”

Thomas Rusch

Do you shoot as well?
Yes, for fun. I take daily snaps which give me inspiration I use my Sony Ericson x1(mobilephone). Sometimes I do self-portraits year after year. If I have more time for myself, I will do my own photographic work but I would never be featured in BLINK. A lot of magazines make me sick. It looks like those magazines exist for their own photographer or art director’s work. MEDIA has to have huge responsibility to the public, there are so many swindlers out here. They have to give the media space to other talented artists and the public.

Jennifer Garza-Cuen

For your facebook and twitter feeds where is that content coming from? selected artists? fans? Do you feed those outlets in between issues with work you liked but did not select for the printed edition?
I don’t post anything about featuring artists for the next issue. It has to be a secret before being published. Sometimes I use Facebook to help me select an artist. I have so many friend requests from Facebook I am in a panic! I don’t use twitter to search for artists. I tweet information about BLINK and news of featured artists and other happenings in art world, or readers of BLINK. I tweet in Korean so would not be worth it to people who can’t read Korean. You can have a conversation with me about BLINK via direct message, I use that a lot or if you want to update news about BLINK, If you want, like BLINK on facebook at here or see it here

Diana Scherer

Where is your funding coming from since you have no advertising?
That is the biggest difficulty. I spent 15 years of my savings to create and publish BLINK. I am waiting for sponsors or advertisers. If I get over the break-even point with BLINK, I am going to bring down the price of the magazine or increase its circulation. Last month I recruited donations with Korean version of Kickstarter and I got one third of the cost for publishing ISSUE 5 covered. THANK YOU to all who donated! I was so grateful. You can still donate on the website.If you donate, I will put your name and your message on the bottom the website page. If you donate over $30 your name and message will be in the magazine as well as you will get the issue.

I do offer space on BLINK for ads for a reasonable price. The most I would include is 10 pages advertisement for BLINK and I will be very discriminating about what advertising I accept.

Artists and galleries can advertise and show their own work. I do send BLINK to galleries, collectors and artists of all over the world. I just gather what I love and show it to this world while kicking the boring daily routine out with great artists whom I love, support and take care of. I do this for one simple reason, the photographs make my eyes happy. BLINK is myself and I am BLINK.

Nathan Perkel

What is the best way to submit work to you?
Simple. It’s a two step process: First, see ‘Take a look inside of BLINK‘ videos and sample spreads of images on the website. (I make a video which shows the  issue.) Second, ask yourself: “Is my work really harmonious with work of featured artists on those previous issues?” Not all work is right for BLINK. but that doesn’t mean that your work is not good or not perfect, it just not for BLINK. I can’t answer all the submissions, I don’t mean to be rude but it’s fairly impossible. Please contact me via email as well:

Karen Hsiao

Olivier J. Laude


















information about bookISBN 978-89-965709-5-0
100 PAGES(8mm. both sides covers)
21 X 29.7 CM
text of interviews with artists in english




Newsweek and New York Times Magazine Redesigns

Magtastic Blogsplosion has reviews of the Newsweek (here) and New York Times Magazine (here) redesigns. Newsweek is worth paying attention to as Tina Brown was named EIC after it was merged with The Daily Beast. Tina famously broke the ban on treating photography seriously in The New Yorker by hiring Richard Avedon. That was after she put Vanity Fair on the map. Of course that was a different era in magazines and now that we have the internet to contend with who knows if she can right that old ship.

Magtastic says the photo editing is well done and the journalism is solid but there’s some “poor-taste news-related gossip” sprinkled in there that weakens the whole package. Personally, I really like the idea of combining the far reaching seo baiting Daily Beast with serious journalism and photography of Newsweek. And, I agree they should stay separate. Online should up-sell the magazine and drive traffic to the newsstand for important stories. Now that the entire issue can be downloaded to an pad or phone, the online presence should drive that not invade it. Combining forces does not mean you have to mash it all up, instead attract the different audiences and sell them something.

The New York Times Magazine famously doesn’t have to compete on the newsstand with other magazine so they can do whatever the hell they want inside. That leads to outstanding journalism and photography within an “aimless” (as magtastic calls it) overall package. The review the review of the redesign goes on to say the there’s a surprising “lack of hard-hitting photojournalism” and the “images are small and feel distant, used more to break up the page than to illuminate the story.” That’s going to be a real shame if this redesign uses photography as decoration for some art directors grid. In this day and age printing images at less than full bleed in a magazine is a complete waste of time. Let’s hope they come to their senses.


Meredith Would Like To Sublicense Your Works

I heard from an agent who sent me this clause from a “non-modifiable” agreement that Meredith Corporations pushes which basically says they can sell the images of photographers who shoot for them to third parties for anything they choose, including advertising. We’re curious if anyone has gotten it removed or if people are just saying eff-it and shooting for them anyway? After seeing this the agent declined the shoot.

b) Creator further hereby grants to Meredith a non-exclusive ongoing, unlimited, non-cancellable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use and sublicense the Works, including, but not limited to, the rights: i) to reproduce the Works or portions thereof in all forms, works and derivative works; ii) to edit, abridge, adapt, translate, or modify or alter the Works; and iii) to publish or authorize publication of the Works in any media now known or hereafter developed, throughout the World.

The September Issue – Live

Ok, this is pretty funny and weirdly interesting. Glossed Over “live blogged” her reading of the September issue of Vogue:

10:37 a.m.: Nearly 200 pages in and I’m not even all the way through the table of contents. More coffee, please.

11:14 a.m.: Has Bebe stopped selling shirts? I ask because neither of the models in their ad are wearing one.

11:49 a.m.: So I’ve never read any of Franzen’s books, but this quote is unwittingly trenchant commentary about Vogue:

“We’re unprecedentedly rich and free; why is everyone so miserable?”

For real.

Read it (here)


Newsweek Sold for $1

The Daily Beast is reporting that Sidney Harman–-a 91 year old billionaire who made his fortune partially as the Harman in Harman/Kardon–purchased the magazine from the Washington Post Co., yesterday for a dollar. They’ve also gotten their hands on the 66 page sales memo that was given to prospective buyers and paints a clearer picture of the debt he assumed as well:

Revenue dropped 38 percent between 2007 and 2009, to $165 million. Newsweek’s negligible operating loss (not including certain pension and early retirement changes) of $3 million in 2007 turned into a bloodbath: the business lost $32 million in 2008 and $39.5 million in 2009. Even after reducing headcount by 33 percent, and slashing the number of issues printed and distributed to readers each week, from 2.6 million to 1.5 million, the 2010 operating loss is still forecast at $20 million.

Dig deeper into the document and the numbers get worse. Newsweek lost money in all three of its core areas in 2008 and 2009: U.S. publishing, foreign publishing and digital. Even with the smaller guaranteed circulation, it still retains $40 million in subscription liabilities owed to readers. And then there’s Newsweek’s lease foibles: last year, it paid $13 million in rent, a startling figure for a company of its size.

More here.

NY Magazine’s Daily Intel does a little head scratching at the logic of buying the magazine without a way to shore up back office expenses by combining it with another magazine like the recent BusinessWeek purchase by Bloomberg.

It’s quite possible this will remain a pet project for the new owner and a radical turnaround is not in the cards, but wouldn’t it be awesome if he hired someone to implode the business model and find a new path. My previous back of the napkin calculations into running a magazine tell me that a very tiny percentage of the expenses are the actual content.

[For fun, here’s what Newsweek had to say about the internet in 1995.]

Combining Video And Typography

Here’s something interesting. Photographer William Hereford thinks that videos presented in magazines are treated as an afterthought (agreed!) and should be integrated into the layout. As a proof of concept he got off his ass and made this video. I think he’s onto something.

Can Photography Save Publishing?

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.


iPad – Magazine Savior, Portfolio Replacement Or A Complete Waste Of Time?

The iPad has the potential to save the magazine industry, may become an important marketing tool for photographers but is a complete waste of time (good for consumers, bad for work).

A lot of ink has been spilled over the anticipation, launch and criticism/joy over the iPad and now that the dust has settled I wanted to offer my own take on the device.

For Work

My first thought with the device out to the box was to use it as a way to get work done when not at my desk. I ran into two major problems with this. 1. It’s difficult to carry around because there’s no handle and it doesn’t fit in your grip so well. 2. It sucks to type on and if you spend all day typing emails like most people these days, you will add hours to your work day trying to type on this thing. So, basically it’s worthless for work. I can’t imagine a single photo editor using one and given the fact that most businesses are many years behind in even updating browsers it’s unlikely in a corporate setting it will be used for anything except testing.

Another big issue with using something like this for work is how bad the web surfing is. I don’t find it to be very quick online, the size of the screen compared to the real estate most sites are using causes lots of problems and lack of support for flash makes the online experience full of holes. Now, I really don’t want to debate the flash vs html in the comments here but I think there’s a lot of misinformation about the two. First of all flash is not going anywhere online. Here’s a couple articles that address this (Giz Explains: Why HTML5 Isn’t Going to Save the Internet, The Future of Web Content – HTML5, Flash & Mobile Apps) and most experts seem to agree (“I’m often asked “Will HTML5 replace Flash?” on the Web. The quick answer is no.” – TechCrunch story) that flash cannot be unseated as one of the standards widely adopted languages on the web.

One point that seems to get everyone fired up is html vs. flash in building websites. I have my own reasons for choosing flash, but I’ve seen horrible and awesome in both so there’s really no point in debating it. Each has its benefits. I will say that flash changed the website viewing experience for photo editors which up until Livebooks started building sites was excruciatingly horrible. I’m on record saying how much I loved flash sites as a photo editor way before I got into building websites. I’ve seen some excellent html sites but the ease at which you can build a site in html leads to many, many more diy’ers creating junk and leading to an overall feeling among photo editors that html sites were low class. One thing worth noting from all the hubbub about the two languages: “few people realize is that while H.264 appears to be an open and free standard, in actuality it is not. It is a standard provided by the MPEG-LA consortsia, and is governed by commercial and IP restrictions, which will in 2014 impose a royalty and license requirement on all users of the technology.” So, there’s more trouble brewing for video down the road.

For Looking At Pictures

The iPad is awesome for thumbing through images. The guardian eyewitness app, which showcases some of the best news photography is an excellent example of this. You scroll through a selection of images with the flip of a finger and can turn the captions on with a single tap. Horizontal images seem to look the best and holding it in the orientation feels natural to me and seems easier to do the swipes and taps.

Picture 1

The big question on everyone’s mind seems to be how can a device that shows off photography this well be used to land jobs. Since I don’t think you will find many PE’s and AB’s using one it’s more likely that a photographer will have one at a meeting or in their kit on set to show additional work. And, I think for showing off multimedia this will become the de facto portfolio as it seems nearly perfect for that. Some people have suggested shipping them around like portfolios and I’m not sure that’s such a great idea. You’ve got to worry about the battery if the thing is accidentally turned on, you’ve got to prepare for people who are technologically inept and I don’t think there’s a way to take over the device and not allow other uses besides looking at the portfolio. The other problem with an iPad as a portfolio is how hard it is for people to change their ways. Someone who is used to great success finding the perfect photographer for a project by calling in books is not going to trust a new method immediately. Also, you’ve got a pretty small screen compared to most books as Zack Seckler over on The FStop points out:

I got in touch with four art buyers at top ad agencies and they all seem to agree that print still offers a superior viewing experience. A glowing screen just doesn’t compare to big beautifully printed images on luxurious paper. If a client is looking through books, deciding to whom to grant a big budget project, a 9″ screen won’t hold up well against rich detailed prints nearly twice it’s size.

Check Zack showing off the image and video capabilities:


For The Magazine Industry

I’m pretty optimistic on the iPad as a savior of sorts for magazines and newspapers. First off, it really is a consumer device. Horrible for work, but awesome for watching videos, looking at images and reading text. It doesn’t hurt that surfing the web is not so great too. In fact a closed environment like this is perfect for publishers (a closed system also prevents content from getting ripped off). And, here’s the thing, this is what magazine people do best, package content. The challenge is whether they can create a workflow and design template that allows them to create stories that flow from print to all the different devices that will soon be available. Dell is building a 5 inch tablet (here), Google has one (here) and European publishers are backing a WePad of sorts (here).

I checked out several magazines on the device and my favorite by a long shot was Time. The Popular Science app has been receiving the most buzz because they set out to redefine how a magazine behaves on the pad and take advantage of the technology but I found myself gravitating towards a traditional magazine experience only enhanced. Time nailed the navigation, you swipe sideways to advance through the issue you swipe up to read more of a story, you rotate the device to activate some of the advertising. The photography looks stunning and the packaging of content is perfect for something like this. The other magazines I checked out on the iPad: Dwell, Outside and the Zinio Reader magazines were a disappointment and amounted to not much more than scanned pages. I’m guessing everyone is cautious to see if the device actually gains traction.

Here’s an overview of the Art Direction by Brad Colbow:

The linchpin to the whole deal for magazines is reach of the device. All of the magazines have been roundly criticized for their pricing which is something I’ve touched on before. It’s sort of like magazine companies saying you have to install a $500 newsstand in your house and then pay them $5 an issue to deliver magazines. It seems absurd to me, but I wonder if someone will break ranks and show how many eyeballs you can attract with pricing. The WePad is looking to bundle with content so you essentially pay for subscriptions to major publishers and the pad comes free. This is the business model that will surely get these things in the hands of lots of people. Of course this all relies on advertisers responding to the traditional method of display advertising which will never be back to the levels it once was. I do think there’s more of an opportunity for consumers to be exposed to advertising in this situation and certainly this kind of advertising has the opportunity to be more interactive and interesting.

The iPad is perfect for those 15 minute to 1 hour interactions you love magazines for. If magazine publishers can figure out an efficient workflow, attractive pricing and the devices can reach critical mass we will have a savior on our hands.

Monocle Magazine, “it can’t be found anywhere else”

Excellent interview with the former founding Art Director of Monocle, Ken Leung over on Cultures In Between. Here’s an excerpt:

What has been Monocle’s distinguishable strengths and differentiated qualities from other titles? Does this also reflect the magazine’s resilience in the print industry?

I think Monocle stands out because it works harder than anyone else. Our stories and artwork are all mostly commissioned meaning it can’t be found anywhere else and that we have complete control over the visual style. We go to places nowhere else has covered and unearth new talents that no one else has discovered.
To me, Monocle’s “resilience” is unsurprising because people are always prepared to buy into a quality product.



aCurator, A New Online Magazine For Looking At Photography

Julie Grahame, EIC of aCurator cites her “frustration with a lack of online destinations that feature full screen images” as the primary reason for founding the magazine. She’s already got Gina LeVay’s Sandhogs project and Stephen Mallon’s Subway Series among others like this one by Aperture Prize Winner Michael Corridore:


Digital Editions Of Magazines Will Count In Circulation Figures

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) announced recently that digital replicas of magazines that are requested and paid for will count in circulation figures (here). This is huge news for publishers as it will allow them a new outlet for cheap circulation, something that’s been missing ever since publishing clearing house went down in early 2000 (here). The digital editions of magazines will be counted on the circulation report and broken out like bulk (doctors office, etc.), so it remains to be seen how advertisers will react to the change.

What I hope will happen is that publishers who sell their printed edition at a loss will raise rates there and price digital editions cheap. This should be a no-brainer since the distribution and printing cost of these copies is zero. Sure, it costs something to port it for all these devices but once that becomes a part of the workflow for creating the magazine in the first place (a design that’s flexible) it shouldn’t be an issue.

This still doesn’t solve the problem of missing advertising dollars, but if they can move hundreds of thousands of subscribers to digital editions it will save a lot of money on printing and distribution. If they’ve got any brains they’ll invest that back into content.