Even if you’re not old enough to remember first-hand those iconic photography magazines like Look and Life, you’ve probably seen plenty of references to them in popular culture.
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” — The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
While Walter Mitty may have been a lowly assets manager in the fictionalized account of Life magazine, he embodies the adventure lust, the search for tangible meaning that so many photographers seem to embrace as a career path. And their contributions gave us all a way to “see” a world that was previously out of our reach.
“The ‘picture magazine’ business really began with publications like Look Magazine and Life Magazine,” explains this article in Blurb. “These publications became a serious source of visual information in a way the world had simply not experienced before. The public might have read about things like Egypt, or World War, or a long-lost tribe, but these magazines gave them their first opportunity to SEE these places, events, or peoples.”
These magazines, the article explains, formed the genesis of the modern-day photo agency, first in glossy and now ubiquitous in digital. Yet even though technology has eased the busy work of the craft, many photographers still long to appear in print magazines, that tangible barometer of one’s professional skill.
While the mass market photography magazine has gone the way of Walter Mitty, the rise in niche titles provides the modern photographer with new viable outlets. The stunning nature photography in Outdoor magazine and the gorgeous travel content in AirBnB’s print publication still exert a powerful pull.
For your audience, that pull is powerful too. We all long to experience paper, the real, the physical. Instagram is great, but it can’t compare to viewing print photographs rendered in full-color ink on the glossy pages of a high-quality magazine.