Photography Magazines

Are they still relevant today?

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Why bother with reading photography magazines today? Google will answer all your questions and the most modest new product will have a great number of reviews online just a few days after coming onto the market (and often before). So why bother? I don’t read the technical magazines anymore, but there are a number of magazines which remain relevant because they will inspire you. I dip into and read many photography magazines, some mainstream and others a bit fresher (for a better word) such as British Journal of Photography, Aperture, Foam, Accent, etc. The Tate Modern shop, the Photographers’ Gallery and Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London carry a wide selection of excellent magazines worth picking up. My two regular magazines are Black + White Photography (produced in the UK) and Polka (produced in France, in French only unfortunately).


Black + White Photography is a monthly magazine which covers photography from all over the world. It has regular features (eg new gallery shows, photography books, a fortnight at f/8, tests of new products etc) and it has inspirational articles about the work of a particular photographer or printing ideas, or the philosophy of photography. In brief, you will always find several articles of interest. It is also a magazine which I keep and I dip into old issues regularly. It is the only magazine I read cover to cover, every month.


The French Polka magazine is a slightly different beast. It is more glossy but its coverage is wide and is not restricted to black & white photography: portfolios, reportage, innovations, photography in films, exhibitions, interviews, even Instagram discoveries. It comes out every three months and even if your knowledge of French is minimal I am sure you will enjoy dipping into this magazine.


So what to do with all of these magazines lying around at home? After a while (I have subscriptions to both magazines and buy others along the way) they do take a lot of space. After a year or so, I have another look at each magazine. I cut out articles or even just pictures which give me ideas, or remind me of technical points, and I put them in a scrap book (which in of itself will become a personal inspirational tool). Magazines which I have not cannibalised will be passed on to other photographers or sometimes left in train stations’ bookshelves for other people to find .  

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Daido Moriyama

I am not always sure why I like Daido Moriyama's photography so much. After all, it is often out of focus, very grainy and contrasty. His photographs are usually of urban settings and not the prettiest parts of town. And yet, his photographs are so compelling. Daido Moriyama is best appreciated by looking at, and reading, his books. Like many Japanese photographers, he has mastered the art of the photobook. Over the years, I am slowly building a little Daido Moriyama library. It will probably never be complete since he is so prolific, but it is a growing collection I enjoy. For me, Moriyama captures like no other the smells, rhythms and sounds of a particular city. I find his type of photography liberating. He goes out most days (actually nights) with a small, simple compact camera and just shoots whatever he feels and sees. When the pictures are put together, they make a unique Moriyama story. Whenever I feel timid about going out doing some street photography, I read one of his books or watch a video of Moriyama on YouTube.  Recently, Thames & Hudson (beautifully edited by Mark Holborn) has published in one volume Daido Moriyama's Records numbers 1-30. These were first published in 1972 as small magazines serving as a sort of visual diary, Kiroku (record in Japanese). Moriyama still publishes them today (I believe we are up to number 36 now). Here is a trailer of the video filmed in London when Moriyama was having an exhibition at Tate Modern with William Klein. You will see how Moriyama goes about taking pictures and putting together one of his records. (The whole video used to be available for free on YouTube but you can only see the trailer now; worth hunting down the video). 

My growing collection

My growing collection