Photography Magazines: Printed and Backlit

This year I’ll begin designing the first printed magazine of my career. This is a very odd thing, as also this year I’ll be helping to develop the first iPad app of my career. My head is spinning with the anachronism.

Like most designers, I make any new project an excuse to go shopping. Taking on a printed magazine project has forced me to collect magazines like crazy. Recently, in an antique store in Missouri, I stumbled upon a stack of Leica Fotografie magazines from the 1960s and 70s. I was stunned. I’ll admit, I was taken in by the typography before the photography, but the  precision in its overall design is remarkable.

Besides its masthead, the bulk of the publication makes use of one typeface, Univers, and does so with extraordinary care. The photographs are treated with utmost respect and each issue is packed with profiles, tips and technical information. As one of the company’s strongest marketing efforts, it profiled amateurs and made connections between the brands advocates not unlike brands’ social media efforts of today. Leica still produces a handsome printed magazine today, though it’s now called LFI.

Taking on the design for an iPad app is an excuse to go shopping as well. While I was admiring this perfection of branding, design, and typography from 40 years ago, I was also downloading Wired, Time, Reuters and other photography heavy apps. Meanwhile having the same crisis: if print AND tablets are so equally stunning and beautiful, will one win?

My answer to the question is still agnostic and I trust the the tablet experience is markedly different from reading words on paper or on a computer. I think it’ll fit into our lives in new ways, and I’ll also be closely following the success of JPG Magazine as they turn the process around: beginning with online submissions, they produce a print magazine second.

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