Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cameracraft - Revival of the 'Real' Photo Magazine

Click here to go the the Cameracraft page
 I was taking a short weekend break with my partner Marj, at her hideaway in County Kerry, Ireland, recently, when I realised that I had forgotten to pack my Kindle.

Now, if you're me, and you've just finished a long photography commission and the light  isn't good enough to snap a few potential stock library images; then you'll need something to read. And, not just anything to read, either. I'm not the sort of person who can while away an hour or two catching up on what trials and tribulations Katie and Peter are suffering right now or finding out how I can lose 10 kilograms in 3 weeks by only eating tofu and baked beans (with some great recipe ideas thrown in).

It had been a while since I'd read a good photography magazine, so I headed for a well-stocked newsagents to get one. But I was out of luck. Oh, there were several titles on the shelf - and some I remembered from the days when I was buying three or four photo mags a month, plus a well known weekly one too (which I admired greatly back in the day). But there wasn't one that I wanted to really read. They were full of "how to" hints and tips (many of which seemed to have been recycled from from last year, and probably the year before that.) "How to take great landscape photographs"; "How to take great portraits"; "How to take great shots of your cat" (I swear that I actually saw that article - or was it just a bad dream?) I came away without a camera magazine and still nothing to read. I don't like the idea of spending good money on recycled, dumbed-down step-by-step guides on things that I knew 20 years ago, and which were not offering me (or most readers, I reckon) anything new. And, more importantly, I think a camera magazine should challenge my view of what photography is all about - and encourage me to get a new persepctive on what is happening in the world of photography, today.

Then I heard about Cameracraft. It's a new subscription only, glossy, high quality quarterly photography magazine published by Icon Publications and Edited by David Kilpatrick in Scotland and associate editor Gary Friedman in Los Angeles. The publishers make the claim that Cameracraft returns to the foundations of good photography. They also claim that their "...invited retrospectives and working project portfolios will set a new standard." And that the "...visual content will open your photographic eyes, our view of photographic technology and history will absorb you, our practical advice and experience will help you." 

Then they make another big statement - which reminded me of the array of dumbed-down "how to" mags currently on the newsagaents shelves". We promise this will not be just another photo magazine and the work we print will not be a repetition of popular themes.

Well, I got a copy the other day and you know what - they have kept all of their promises, and then some.

OK, a small proportion of my own work is in the first issue but, even if it wasn't, I'd still be feeling and saying the same things about this important and very welcome new edition to the photography publishing world. It is a serious, well written, intelligent magazine with a top class selection of imagery, beautifully printed and presented on high quality paper. It's a joy to hold and read - and yes you have to hold a photography magazine in your hands, in my view, electronic versions just don't "cut it".

The publishers have gone to great lengths to make sure that the images are presented to the highest possible standard. David Kilpatrick (who has worked on my many top photography titles, including some of my favourites from way-back-when) told me: "...we...use a very faint blue, almost impossible to see, which makes b/w images appear to separate from the page better. Using these very pale tints let the white of the photo appear brighter, without apparently colouring the page." And the difference is there for all to see.

One thing I tell all of my online photography students is that in order to make good photography, you have to look at great photography. Sadly, the opportunities to do that are becoming less frequent, certainly via the medium of the photo magazine. But in my view, Cameracraft provides a welcome revivial of serious photography publishing and a magazine to read with satisfaction and to keep with pride.

I just wish it had been published before I got to Kerry that wet weekend!

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