Rarely. Seriously, photography magazines are a dime a dozen and finding a really good one is very difficult. I’d love to recommend one to you but it’s rare that I find one that is good time after time… Generally they aren’t consistent. Let’s face it, it’s tough coming up with original content every month. Not only do they have to come up with original content but they have to fill hundreds of pages with it, that’s a lot of content. So how do you pick a magazine that deserves your $20 plus dollars?
Process of Elimination
There are 2o plus magazines related to photography in the rack at most dedicated book stores. The first thing I like to do is eliminate the obvious losers. Here are some things to look for:
I won’t buy a magazine that comes in a plastic sleeve you can’t open. This tells me two things, none of which are good. First, they aren’t confident you’d buy their magazine if you could flip through it so they want to lock it down in hopes that they can bamboozle you into purchasing it (they argue people window shop but don’t buy but they are the minority, the majority of successful magazines allow you to see what you’re paying for before you buy it). Second, there is a strong possibility I’d rather put the plastic sleeve over my head than read the content of their magazine.
Have you ever heard the saying “the blind leading the blind”? Always flip through a magazine (or book for that matter) to make sure the images are images that would inspire you… Images that you would aspire to capture after reading the magazine. Make sure you pay particular attention to the images towards the back of the magazine as they sometimes like to put the best images in the front to entice you into purchasing the magazine only to find out all the images after page 10 look like they were taken with an iPhone. If the first thing that goes through your mind after perusing the photographs is “I could take better photographs” then I’d move on.
With the advent of the internet I’d have to say your out of your freaking mind if you pay $30 for a magazine. Next time you are considering a magazine that costs you $30 take a walk over to the Digital Photography section of books and look at all the great books you can get for less than thirty dollars (now get on Amazon and buy it for half of that). Or, head on home and pop onto the internet for a ton of free information all about photography without spending a dime… Save the money you’d have spent on magazines and put it towards your next camera or lens.
When we see or hear the words “free stuff” it must release endorphins or something in our brain because everyone’s ears perk up. There have been absolutely zero times when I’ve bought a magazine touting free photography software or quick guides where I was impressed. Generally the free software ends up being a hassle to download, a trial period that you’ll eventually have to pay for, or just antiquated. If they have to give way 10 pieces of software and a DVD to sell a magazine do you think the content is going to be remarkable? Not likely.
Many magazines appeal to the more advanced photographer by putting the words ‘pro’ or ‘advanced’ in the title… there isn’t much of a difference between them and the “ordinary” magazines. If you can read and have generally decent grasp on photography you’ll grasp the concepts as easily as anyone else. Don’t accept or eliminate the magazine based on the name alone, flip through it just like you would the others.
Different strokes for different folks… Everyone has their preference when it comes to good reading material, magazines are no exception. If you’d like to save your money for new gear but still like flipping through a magazine I would find a website like this one and search for the aspects of photography that interest you. There is a virtual cornucopia of information on photography stuffed into the internet for you to view free of cost.
What are your favorite magazines? What is your least favorite? My least favorite? I was bamboozled by “Advanced” Photographer magazine last year, there was nothing advanced about it and the images were uninspired.