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07-13-2010, 10:23 AM   #1

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Published work in decline?

As of late, I have been seeing some really mediocre photos in several magazines. One in particular has really been in decline in the past 10 years. "Islands" magazine (a US company) has gone from a real professional look, to amateurish photos. A few examples are in the Aug 2010 edition. Page 30/31--- People in focus, background almost in focus. If one is to do a shot like this, either have the background sharp or have it way out of focus to emphasize the people. Funky looking shot. Page 40--- Shot into the sun with massive flares seen. Shot should never have been published. Shooter should try using a lens hood! Page 44/45--- A narrow DOF shot with massive flares seen once again. Background is slightly soft and doesn't add to the shot. It is never a good thing to have the sun hitting the front lens element. A snap shot.

I guess "who you know" trumps quality in the magazine world.

07-13-2010, 10:31 AM   #2
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Or it's budgetary cutbacks. They send an editor/writer to do the review/story, armed with a point and shoot, or a dslr and no clue how to use it. But if you have the camera you get the shots right?
07-23-2010, 11:28 AM   #3
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Magazine quality has gone down but advertising remains very high and its not hard to see why. Just follow the money. I had 2 pages in a Mountain Bike magazine recently. One page was for a magazine story and the other was for an advertiser. The advertiser paid me 10x as much as the magazine...
09-14-2010, 07:39 AM   #4
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Magazines, like newspapers, are hurting, mainly because advertising is going to the internet. During the last few years, three of the mags I've sold to have gone out of business, and one of them was successful for over 50 years.
Two of the ones I once sold covers now just run contests. Good, free, images are everywhere, and microstock is full of good, cheap images by part-timers with enough money to buy better equipment than I can afford. Auto features are so sophisticated, if someone simply points and shoots enough, they'll come up with a few keepers, and some of them would pay to have them published.
It's supply and demand. The demand is dwindling, while the supply has exploded. Editors are not photographers. All they look for is illustrative content. I have survived because I specalize in a certain subject matter and try to be creative with composition and content.
Because of increased marketing, I'm selling far more than I did a few years ago, but I'm making less. Rates are about what they were during the early 1990s, and bread costs at about 10 times what it did. I'm looking foreward to social security to supliment my income.
Increasingly, people use the internet for all their information, except those with esoteric interests, which is another reason to specialize and target particular publications. Develop a relationship.
I believe much of the advertising that has abandoned print publications will return, because while billions of people are there, and advertising is very cheap, it is a vast universe and SEO is an ever changing puzzle. Sites that are doing well still use traditional advertising to attract people to their sites.
But the thing that is killing us quickest is digital technology and sophtisticated auto functions. I have professional equipment, but I recently sold two covers taken with a $150 underwater P&S I bought just to play with. This is the first P&S I've owned in about 40 years of doing this, and I am amazed at the quality. A photo editor for a newspaper recently told me he can actually get a publishable picture from a cell phone, and it is getting close to the time when they can lift a single frame from hand-held video cameras and print them.
Creativity with composition and content is about all we have left, and professional photography as we knew it is just about dead

09-14-2010, 08:03 AM   #5
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I have to disagree with this. I have a collection of 'Car' magazine going back to 1998, and for reasons too long and dull to go in to, the May 1993 copy is currently in my bathroom.

It had struck me how bad the photography was, but I reasoned that most people probably wouldn't notice - until my wife commented asked 'how rubbish are the pictures in that magazine by the bath?'

It's clear that without the ability to review results, interior shots of cars were often poor - I guess because you're taking a picture of something very dark (European dashboards of the early 90's were always black) against something bright (windscreen) In one story the main image is of the dashboard of a different car to that which is on test (it's one of the ones they were comparing it to) - presumably because the shot of the inside of the test car was so woefully underexposed.

The standard of photography in car ( now is generally very high indeed - but the thing is I thought it was then - the others were worse.
09-15-2010, 12:39 PM   #6

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I tend to agree with you Ron; professional photography as we knew it has changed. I believe that another factor is also involved in the decline of magazine photographs. I don't think editors have the eye they once did. For any great picture to be published, the shooter needs a great eye but so does the editor. If the editor can't tell quality from mediocrity, the publication will suffer. Quality of product has never been a strong point in the US; profit margin has been. Quantity over quality seems to fit the flood of digital images swamping the market.

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