The good news is, analog is not dead. The not-so-good news is that the magazine industry is in danger, and the best way to slow its decline is to, well, buy magazines.
Kurt Anderson, the former editor of New York was quoted in the New York Times saying, “The 1920s to the 2020s was kind of the century of the magazine. [Today the industry is] more of a dusk, a slow dusk, and we’re closer to sunset.”
I love the internet; it gives me a job, for one, and lots of cool facts about cats (a group of cats is called a clowder, just FYI). The internet is an amazing place; it has made it possible for people to connect in ways impossible to fathom just a few decades ago. But the truth is, it is responsible for “killing” many industries, including record stores, book stores, cable television, encyclopedias, map making, and slowly but surely, print journalism. Popular Photography is just one of the many magazines to fold in 2017, and Shutterbug announced that after 45 years in print, it would be moving to a digital only publication starting in May of 2018.
Editor-in-Chief Dan Havlik said, “Shutterbug Magazine had a great run, but the media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 4+ decades, and we felt now was the time for Shutterbug to become a dynamic, web-only publication. Shutterbug.com has grown dramatically in recent years with record traffic and expanded reach to photographers around the world. We can now dedicate all our resources to further growing our online presence and expanding our video, social media, mobile and e-commerce channels.”
Photographers need access to both digital and analog. I would argue that most photography, even that which is digitally created, is meant to be viewed on a page as opposed to a screen. There is also something so nice about carving out time away from a screen to look through a magazine and gain inspiration and tips of the trade.
You probably have that one photographer in your life who already has all the latest and greatest gadgets. An excellent gift for that person (and for the industry as a whole) is to buy a subscription to a photography magazine. A magazine subscription is also a great gift for yourself. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite photography magazines to gift to yourself or a friend. Read on for our top photography magazine picks.
Marketed as “The Magazine of Photography and Ideas” Aperture is filled with inspiring shots and eloquent words. The articles are so good that even non-photographers will like the content. Bound on thick glossy paper, with large photos printed throughout, Aperture feels almost like a book you will be proud to display on the coffee table.
Their mission statement reads “Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other–in print, in person, and online.” More than a magazine about the latest gear and cameras, Aperture seeks to push the discourse about photography into new territory; the editors of Aperture see photographs as high art, as statement and ongoing conversation, and as a way of interacting with broader social and race issues that infiltrate every aspect of society.
Released quarterly, each issue hinges upon a central theme, and past issues have included On Feminism, Elements of Style, Future Gender, Prison Nation, and most recently, Family. Of the Family issue, on stands now, the Aperture website states, “At a moment of conservative backlash to queer rights and of the separation of families at the U.S. border, the image of the family you have—or the family you choose in search of connections across race and sexuality—has never been more important. “Family” features essays by literary figures including Sheila Heti, Pico Iyer, and John Jeremiah Sullivan, as well as photography by Diana Markosian, whose family emigrated from Russia to California; Liz Johnson Artur, who has spent her career photographing individuals of the African diaspora; and a special portfolio by Stefan Ruiz of the House of Xtravaganza, one of New York’s legendary ballroom houses. Throughout “Family,” artists and photographers transform the group portrait through appropriation, performance, conceptual intervention, and long-term community engagement.”
Professional Photographer magazine has been in print for over a century. It provides “relevant insights on the latest tech, profiles of the biggest names in professional photography, lessons in cutting-edge techniques, and business advice.” The magazine comes monthly, and includes a digital subscription where you can login online, zoom in any picture and click to learn more.
With tips about growing your business and your skill set, Professional Photographer is a great gift for a photographer with a business in the making.
Foam is an international indie photography magazine that is published three times a year. Each issues hinges upon a central theme and past themes have included Lust, Trip, Who We Are, Propaganda, and Back to the Future.
The magazine features both emerging talent and celebrated photographers and features documentary, fashion, portrait, contemporary and historic photography.
Each issue contains
- Multiple portfolios printed on carefully considered paper.
- Interviews and opinions by experts in the field of photography.
- Surprising and distinctive editorial choices –Foam Magazine Website.
A year subscription will run you €64,00 (about $72) but it is well worth the investment. Foam Magazine won the prestigious title of Photography Magazine of the Year at the Lucie Awards 2017.
The target audience for Digital Photo Pro is professional photographers, as the name may suggest, but the articles are accessible to photographers of all skill levels with at least a bit of familiarity with the camera. Digital Photo Pro calls themselves a “trusted source for the latest news on photography, camera techniques, equipment reviews and renowned photographers’ galleries.” Their reviews are some of the most trusted in the industry.
The magazine also occasionally offers contests, which are a great way to challenge yourself as a photographer.
Click is created for “the modern photographer” and is written specifically with female photographers in mind, though it’s a good read for anyone. Designed to be encouraging and motivating, Click contains uplifting articles written in a warm, open tone. Though some of the articles on their website may be distinctly feminine in theme (Target for Photographers: 15 Photo-related excuses to shop your favorite store, for example) the tips and tricks in the magazine are helpful for anyone, and the photos are consistently gorgeous.
Plus, Click occasionally offers contests and they always run a unique “Critique” section were the Sarah Wilkerson, the CEO, offers her insight into why a particular featured photograph worked with regard to “composition, light, color, posing, and selective focus.” Reading a critique of a photograph that is not your own is a great way to strengthen your own body of work.
Shutter Magazine features insight and photographs from leaders in the industry.
As I read the February 2017 issue of Shutter Magazine, I only needed to read a few pages before saying to my wife, “This is the one I would subscribe to. This one is for me.” Shutter Magazine’s successful implementation of its mission spoke to me, the portrait and wedding photographer trying to grow my business. Indeed, their mission in part reads: “Our goal is to provide current, insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer.” Over the course of 208 pages, the magazine did just that.
And the photos are amazing. While the styles vary, the entire collection of photos in the issue is top-notch. The design of the magazine is also a huge step above the American mass-market magazines. Like Photolife (described above), each page has room to breathe. Nothing is cramped or crowded. In fact, Shutter Magazine almost feels like a textbook rather than a magazine, with room to write notes and mark up the text.” Aaron Taylor of Improv Photography
Their website says, “This is no ordinary magazine. Shutter Magazine is a piece of art. With a unique 7.5 x 10 size, 80lb soft touch aqueous cover and 70lb paper, it’s a must-have for any photographer’s collection.” This is a dream gift for every photographer or photography enthusiast.
Outdoor Photography is a United Kingdom publication. It includes tutorials, news, essays, reviews, and a locations guide which gives details on adventurous photography trips. Their tagline reads, “wild places, inspiring nature, great adventures” which is exactly what you’ll find in the pages of Outdoor Photography.
Each monthly issue contains relevant, seasonal articles; January, for example, details a quick guide to shooting winter sports, and a how-to piece of shooting winter woodland and other more evergreen topics including George Wheelhouse on “serendipity and imagination.”
Photo Life has a unique, almost gallery-like lay out which is designed to allow each image to breath. It is a Canadian publication (and many of the articles contain Canadian references that you may have to Google) which features essays and stunning images.
Bonus: You can download a free issue online to see if it’s your style before committing to a subscription.
After reading a dozen photography magazines, I was surprised by how many tried to cram their pages to the edges. Not so with Photolife. The white space on the page was just enough to be comfortable without seeming wasteful.
The writing is professional, the articles vary in style, and the photos are stunning from start to finish. Photolife is the first magazine on this list that seemed to have a high bar for including a photo. Not a single photo featured was a dud. I found myself studying several just to reflect on the photographer’s technique and choices. Kudos to Photolife for outstanding photos. – Aaron Taylor of Improv Photography
Nature Photographer focuses on outdoor portraits and landscapes. A self-described “how-to” magazine, Nature Photographer builds stronger photographers by giving tips and tricks and will help you “channel your intense interest in nature photography into more successful trips into the natural world, whether they be for the day, weekend, holidays or vacations. This is the magazine for those of you interested in photographing the wilderness—in far-off destinations, in local parks or in your own backyard.”
The magazine is designed to spark adventure and a desire to get outside. Their belief is that when you build up your photography skill set, the technicalities become second nature and you are able to focus on the image you are trying to capture. Nature Photographer strives to “showcase the Earth in the most beautiful light and to encourage everyone to be kind to the Earth and all life, including themselves. Our journeys will include:
- How to photograph — from close-ups to wildlife to grand landscapes and seascapes.
- How to use specialized equipment.
- Detailed natural history information.
- Field techniques.
- New product information and equipment reviews.
It is published 3 times a year seasonally; Spring, Summer, and Fall/Winter.
Blind Spot is a rare type of photography magazine and well-worth a subscription. Instead of publishing content about photography, they showcase never before seen work by notable photographers.
In Blind Spot, images are given primacy and published collaboratively rather than curatorially, unaccompanied by introductory, biographical or explanatory text. Blind Spot is not about photography, our content is photography. Blind Spot bridges the gap between emerging and established artists, and creates a new context where each can benefit from the company of the other. By publishing accomplished artists on an intimate scale, we strive to enrich and provide direction to our culture. Since its launch in 1993, Blind Spot has featured over 300 living photographers including Uta Barth, Gregory Crewdson, Tim Davis, Rineke Dijkstra, Adam Fuss, and Vik Muniz, many of whom have gained critical and audience acclaim through their exposure in the magazine. Blind Spot
The magazine is meant to be absorbed slowly and thoughtfully, and is an amazing companion on a slow rainy day.
Amateur Photographer is perfect for the photography newbie. Not sure that photography is your thing? Start with Amateur magazine. It offers camera and gear reviews, shooting techniques, interviews, and tips for building a business. They do have digital editions available for download for that friend that just can’t part with their screen.
As you may have guessed, every photo in Black & White magazine is in black and white. The magazine is said to be “for collectors of fine photography” and each issue contains a lovely balance of modern photos and fine art photography from the past.
The majority of the magazine focuses on artist profiles and reader galleries. You won’t find gear reviews or dedicated sections on technique or Lightroom. Artist profiles are detailed and informative. Balancing interviews, storytelling, and biography, the artist profiles are well-worth the word-count invested by the write. – Improv Photography
This magazine is refreshing in that focuses on photography as fine art; you may be inspired to push your own work in a more artistic direction, or even submit for publication. It is published bi-monthly, which is plenty of issues to inspire.
Plus, they have photography portfolio contests each year: 20 winners receive a four page spread in the August issue, and the deadline for the 2019 contest in 1/15/19. They also offer more niche contests for a single image in the categories of Vintage Images, Smartphone Photography, Alternative Printing Processes, and Pinhole/Plastic Camera.
Their website says, “The narrow focus of each contest means fewer entries and increases the chance your image will be selected. While the winners won’t be featured in a Special Issue, they will get prominent representation in regular issues of Black & White. Adding more pages to each issue will allow us to dedicate 16-24 pages to display winning photos. Each of the four contests will have a dedicated section in one of the four regular issues of Black & White. The added pages of award-winning photography will be an added bonus for our readers.”
Black + White Photography magazine (not to be confused with Black & White) showcases a diverse range of images including documentary, portraiture, still life, landscape and street. The magazine has featured interviews with Nick Brandt, Michael Kenna, Vanessa Winship, David Bailey, Sarah Moon and Michael Ackerman, and many other celebrated and emerging photographers.
Launched in 2001, Black + White “informs, inspires and stimulates all levels of creative photographers working within the monochrome aesthetic. Inspiring and engaging readers to take their photography to the next level is at the core of the magazine’s ethos.” This magazine appeals to all skill levels and will be inspiring even to those who do not shoot in black and white.”
Another publication out of the United Kingdom, Black + White Photography is a mass-market-style magazine with a twist: every photo is black and white. You’ll get your standard sections like news, gear, technique, and feature stories. The design and layout are stellar: out of the selection I read for this article, Black + White Photography is my favorite to flip through. From the weight of the paper to the texture of the cover, Black+White Photography is just plain good. In fact, I’ve read through it twice, just to see what I missed the first time. -Improv Photography
While not technically billed as photography magazine, National Geographic exemplifies what it means to take stunning landscape, outdoor, and wildlife photography. The writing is unparalleled, and any photographer, amateur or professional, will feel inspired flipping through its pages.
Photo District News is geared toward those seeker deeper insight into the photography industry. The latest issue was centered around the theme of “Body” and the featured articles included “The Trouble with Nudes” and “Body Work: 3 Distinctive Styles for Fitness and Sports.”
The Trouble with Nudes offers a deep dive into “predatory male photographers being called out, will we see an end to exploitative images masquerading as art? Editors, curators and collectors discuss what makes a nude photo collectible and noteworthy in today’s fine-art market.”
The magazine also reviews gear, photography books, and includes interviews with acclaimed photographers. A must-read for anyone interested in the current and future state of the photography industry.