Photography News 01

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Opinion

Speakers’ corner This is your chance to climb up on your soapbox and have a rant. Get in touch if you have something you want to get off your chest. We kick off with PN’s editor and his views on the photography magazine market

Words by Will Cheung

The sales of photographic magazines are declining year by year. That’s even if you take all the available news-stand titles as a whole. What I am saying is that the decline is not just in individual titles, but the photographic market as an entity. It’s a pattern seen in the sales of most magazines and newspapers. As a photographic magazine editor the decline, naturally enough, is very disappointing but it’s also understandable and is mostly attributable to the Internet. Magazines cost money, and neither do they have the immediacy, nor the incredible breadth of coverage that you get from the Internet. The web offers more too: if you have a problem, a Google search will soon sort it; you can post your own pictures up without having an editor sitting in judgment of them first; and you have the freedom to more or less say what you want without getting into trouble, although there has been the odd exception. Right now, the storm in the teacup is footballer Jack Wilshere who said that only English players should play for England. It’s his opinion and he’s entitled to one without the world throwing up their collective arms up in indignation. ‘Chillax’, as PM Cameron might say. I’m wandering off track here so back to the point. The web is democratic and we are so dependent on it that if it disappeared overnight, for most of us it would be like going back to an age before fire and the wheel were ‘discovered’. The democratic nature of the web I do worry about sometimes, ignoring the billions of dross pictures up that should have been deleted in-camera. Such is the freedom of speech that anyone can put themselves up as an authority or an expert. There are literally thousands, if not a great many more, of so-called photographers and experts out there who don’t know what they are talking about or wouldn’t know a truly good photograph if it came up and slapped them in the face. Many so-called experts are pixel peepers into the technology of imaging, who would never dare to venture out of their homes in case they have to deal with a fellow human being. The worrying thing is that they are believed; they probably have thousands of followers (disciples!). Before the Internet, it was the photographic magazines that were the home of experts and the readers were the ‘disciples’ if you like. But many of the journalists on the editorial teams and their contributors were experts; they had to be to get the job in the first place. Yes, some were geeks (I was the darkroom nerd), but they truly had the knowledge. I joined Practical Photography nearly 30 years ago and have spent time (got drunk!) with most of the photo magazine press corps over that time. On my first press trip, I recall meeting a hero of mine, Victor Blackman, Amateur Photographer ’s famed

a beautiful way to enjoy great photography, along with true expert advice. This newspaper you are reading now (assuming I haven’t upset you yet and you’re still reading!) is even better value. It’s free – and we need your help to fill it. You know what your club and its members are up to, what they enjoying shooting, what their interests are. So if you are reading this, or other stories in PN , and have an idea for a feature, an opinion, a news story, a club or individual achievement that deserves a wider audience than your own club or society, seriously we would love to hear from you. Just email us – pretty please. Meanwhile, next timeyou’repassing themagazine section in WHSmith, Tesco or Sainsbury’s spare a few moments and check out the photographic section. You never know, you might see something there that you’ve never seen before. You might even be tempted to spend a few quid.

columnist, and I was totally tongue-tied. I loved his work because he genuinely knew what he was talking about. There are people in the modern world who deserve the admiration, affection and respect that I had for Mr Blackman (I didn’t feel worthy of calling him Vic), but there are a great, great many that are not worth the cyberspace they occupy. In Room 101, they would be top of my list. Better still, I would take the B Ark idea from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams where the planet of Golgafrincham got rid of a useless third of its population (hairdressers, security guards, telephone sanitisers etc) by shipping them off the planet. The only downside was the remaining population eventually died out thanks to a disease contracted from a dirty telephone. Doh! Going back to where I started and the decline in photographic magazine sales, I think it’s a shame that so many photographers have given them up, thinking they have nothing to learn from them, or have read or seen it all before. In my book, every day is a school day. No one knows it all. The magazine I edit now is Advanced Photographer and it costs £4.95; a pack of 20 cigarettes or a large glass of wine in a decent pub is more. The magazine is brilliant value – and longer lasting too – even though I say so myself, and so are the other excellent magazines in the market. They continue to offer what the web simply can’t –

There are literally thousands, if notmore, of so-called

photographers and experts out therewho don’t knowwhat they are talking about

If you have an opinion or something you want to get off your chest, drop us a line at opinion@photography-news.co.uk. What do you think?

Photography News | Issue 1

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