Toronto. In July of last year I posted an article on camera magazines. This article glossed over commercial and society magazine while touching on the BJP and manufacturer specific publications. This time out we look at commercial, collectors, and society periodicals.
From the beginnings of photography, articles were written to describe and educate people on the new art form. By the mid 1800s there were magazines devoted to Photography – mostly text and illustration based as photographs waited for the half-tone process to be perfected.
Some magazines like The Amateur Photographer shown here were published weekly and served both to educate and offer a platform for advertisements.
Modern magazines sprung up and served the growing amateur photography fraternity. Most successful in the day were American magazines like Popular Photography, Modern Photography, Camera 35, etc. Post war, I could hardly wait for the next issues to arrive on the newsstands telling about exciting progress in photography, new products to soon be released, and how-to articles and photographs. Canadian magazines of the day were far less successful and usually failed dismally after their brief exposure. Today our magazines are thriving by focusing on one area like PhotoEd (left) which addresses the schools and educators and PhotoNews which is distributed free with the daily newspaper in many areas.
In the 1970s societies devoted to camera and image collecting sprung up. Many organizations published journals such as the one at left by our sister organization in New England. This is an example of a journal which is no longer published.
Many other publications are produced by the organization to serve what today is a dwindling audience of collectors and historians.
Our own journal, limited to members, Photographic Canadiana continues to thrive after 45 years as the membership in our organization falls with the drop in interest in collecting film cameras and their images in spite of the photograph’s growing importance.
Our society has been blessed with a strong source of devoted volunteers and alternate means of funding (fairs and auctions) that helps both the society and students and professionals alike.
Today, we address those preferring online interaction as well as the printed word. In addition to our journal we have a popular free pdf newsletter (PHSC News), this web site you are viewing in your browser, and a Facebook page.
Like many societies, we devote our time to a broad range of photographic topics – history, studios, images, processes, cameras, accessories, etc. – a truly eclectic variety of topics.
Other organizations devote their efforts to specific manufacturers such as Zeiss. In fact Zeiss Historica covers not only cameras made by Zeiss and Zeiss-Ikon, but every other product the mighty Zeiss organization designed and manufactured.
The organization has dropped in members over the years and the magazine is published twice yearly these days. The editor, Larry Gubas, is a well known author as well. Most recently he wrote and published a massive definitive book called Zeiss and Photography. It was printed by Friesens in Manitoba. Larry is one of the most knowledgable Zeiss historians today.
About the same time as the collector and historical organizations began to thrive, a professional History of Photography magazine was started in England. This magazine targeted senior schools, museums and libraries with periodic publication of serious historical papers on a vast array of photography related subjects.
This erudite magazine continues to publish today after a change in ownership occurred. Check out your local reference library for current or back issues. Many of the articles were written by people devoted to the history of the art and its equipment.
In a few cases, periodicals produced exclusive coverage of one model such as the Leica, or one collector of a manufacturer such as Leitz. For a few years the magazine BB for Leica owners was published in Minneapolis by the aptly named Barnack and Berek Publishing company. Oscar Barnack was the creator behind the original Leica and Max Berek was the initial lens designer (he made the famous Elmar 50mm f/3.5 lens).
In Europe, Dr Pierre Jeandrain of Belgium, a member of LHSA and Leica Historica, published a limited number of newsletters in a simple manuscript and stapled format covering the Fontenelle Leitz/Leica Collection.
The newsletter’s contents covered some of the ground documented in England by Dr Neill Wright in his exhaustive The Collector’s Checklist of Leica Cameras, Lenses and Accessories and Leica Bibliography, also a single-sided typewritten manuscript but with a glued spine like a giant paper back.
Some of the long out of print periodicals and books show up at our fairs and auctions. Others may reside in your local library or your collector’s society library. Many coffee table size books or student text book style publications can still be found at specialty booksellers like Petra Kellers on the west coast of America.