Magazine Reviews (Fine Art)

Fine art magazines usually present portfolios or collected works of photographers, and often include interviews and criticism. There may be technical details discussed, but there are typically no "how-to" articles or equipment reviews. The artistic criteria for inclusion in a particular magazine vary from one to the next, depending on the magazine's vision or mission.


Adore Noir

Adore Noir magazine cover I used to watch "Inside The Actor's Studio" back when they had people like Paul Newman and Martin Landau and Shirley MacLaine. I quit watching when they started featuring the casts of sitcoms. Regardless—the interview always concludes with a stock series of short questions, one of which is "what inspires you?"

Great photography, great writing, great music all make me want to write or make photographs. The local newspaper makes me want to be a plumber.

Reading Adore Noir gave me an idea for photos I want to make; whether I'll actually be able to pull it off is another matter (I'll have to get a lot better than I am right now), but I'm going to try. That's the highest praise I can come up with.

Adore Noir is a bi-monthly fine-art magazine devoted to B&W photography. Unlike, say, Lenswork, Adore Noir is only offered in an electronic format (i.e. PDF) via their website:

The advantages are numerous: it's quick and easy to get--you don't have to search the local newsstand or magazine rack, trying to find it buried under the deluge of magazines devoted to tattoos, old muscle cars, decorating your home with brass, adolescent beauty and fashion, video games and training porn. Not making a print edition brings the price down to something easily affordable: $3 each. I was able to get the full 2011 year (five issues) for $10. Consider that many domestic magazines are typically $5 or more on the newsstand, and the UK magazines are often between $10 and $20 each, and it looks like a hell of a value. Even Lenswork's "portable edition" is $4.

Even though it's PDF only, it still looks and reads like a quality printed slick. Issues are around 90-100 pages; there are some ads but relatively few compared to the competition; AN's issue #9 has 93 pages total, 16 of which are full-page ads; no smaller ads are mixed in. Popular Photography's April 2011 issue has 124 pages total, of which 56 are full page ads with many more partial pages. Adore Noir's Photo reproduction is extremely well done, the layout is crisp and clean and the whole thing looks beautiful. The closest equivalent I can think of is Photographer's Forum.

Each issue has seven or eight features—typically a Q&A interview with a photographer and a selection of his or her work. The images are beautiful on my garden-variety monitor (11" high)—I found the photos to start getting iffy visually when zoomed over 200%. Since I only do that with the nudes (those require critical visual inspection), I'm very pleasantly surprised at how well the magazine looks on my computer monitors. I don't own a tablet so I can't say how it looks on that.

There's a nice selection of different styles: any issue might include examples of pictorialism, modernism, photojournalism, surrealism, you name it, as long as it's in glorious monochrome. For someone who's easily bored by seeing the same thing every time, I like an eclectic mixture of styles and subjects.

My favorite art magazine. Highly recommended.


lenswork magazine cover

I bought this once to read on a long airplane flight. It was desperation—I thought the magazine was going to be pretentious and desperately dull. If you've read the text to very many photo collections, or the articles in many fine art publications, you know what I'm talking about.

But I found LensWork's articles and attitude to be refreshingly down to earth and accessible. The photographs (this is a fine-art periodical) are very well reproduced and striking.

The bad part is that it's pricey. It's like a small paperbook book, but it's a periodical; it tends to show up in the book sections of bookstores, not on the newsstand. And at $12.95, it's pricey.

And finding it is difficult; camera stores typically carry it but camera stores are a vanishing breed. I rarely see it at bookstores or newsstands. They do have a website:

I believe LensWork was one of the first to really take advantage of digital media; you can buy any and all of their issues in PDF format.

Photographer's Forum

photographer's forum magazine cover

I subscribed to this back in the 90's. It was like National Geographic--great to look at but never actually read it. At the time I was more interested in technical articles and how-to's. Now that I'm older I find myself drawn more to the art magazines. (I believe I donated them all to a library book sale and now I regret it. Never get rid of anything.)

Unlike Lenswork, which was digest-size (think TV Guide, Reader's Digest, Make, etc.), this was a normal-sized magazine. Unlike Popular Photography and almost every other magazine I can name, Photographer's Forum was printed in higher quality paper that really made the images shine.

I'll be honest and say that I haven't seen an issue in over a decade so maybe things have changed, but from their website it appears that they're still going strong. Still published quarterly, it's $15 (as I type this in 2012) for both a digital and print subscription (and $15 for just the print. Interpet that any way you want), which seems like a pretty sweet deal considering the cover and subscription prices for many other magazines these days.

Shelf 1: Fine Art

Shelf 2: General Interest

Shelf 3: Special Interest

Shelf 4: Photoshop

Shelf 5: No Longer Published

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