It’s Refreshing & Depressing!

Yoko Ono and John Lennon © Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone
Friday afternoon I had some coffee and salad with none other than the man himself.  You can read all about our good time and my tardiness here.  It was great to see Andrew and talk about things, life, pictures, good shoots, bad shoots, etc.  It was fun.  Both of us are deeply rooted in the editorial world.  Shooting for magazines has been both of our bread and butter for our whole careers.  Sure, we pepper in some better paying work here and there, but for the most part, we make a living shooting editorial, and we’d like to keep it that way.  We talked about how much we love magazine work, but there just aren’t that many good magazines or shoots out there anymore.  I thought a lot about this part of our conversation all weekend.  It really started to bum me out.    

The publishing industry is in a bad way right now.  Magazines folding left and right, not nearly as many original shoots happening in the few good magazines that remain, budgets getting slashed and slashed some more.  All signs point to magazines becoming a thing of the past and the internet taking over as a source for the same content.  I wonder…without magazines, will name recognition for commercial photographers also fly out the window?  I understand that there are still photo credits on websites, blogs, and online magazines.  I just don’t think images have the same impact online as they do in print.  Where would Annie Leibovitz be without Rolling Stone?  I’m sure she would still be successful, but would we know who she is and immediately associate so many images with the name Leibovitz?  Are people going to pay the same attention to images on their computer as they do to a cover image plastered all over the city?  Will photography have the same impact online?  Or maybe the better question is, will individual photographers make the same impact online that they might have in print?  

I do love the internet and all it has to offer.  Starting this blog is one of the best things I’ve done for my photography in a very long time.  Online magazines will continue to improve, I’m sure.  I guess I’m just wondering if the era of the magazine superstar photographer is over…Avedon, Penn, Seliger, Leibovitz, etc.  If so, that makes me sad because that’s what I always wanted to be when I grew up.

5 comments to It’s Refreshing & Depressing!

  • drew

    me too, emily. me too.

  • Jesse Dittmar

    …me three.

    There will always be a place for great image making, online, in print or otherwise. It sucks magazines are tanking, but I don’t necessarily think that means the photographer will be lost in the process.

  • Terence Patrick

    I worked at a fairly major magazine for a while and what I gathered is that magazines by the media conglomerates will probably die out because there's simply too many executive fat cats who only care about saving their own asses to keep 10+ books on the same subject going at the same time from the same company.

    I think with some time, independent titles will reign supreme once again with smaller, more niche distribution taking over the magazine buffets at B&N and supermarkets (where placement fees can eat up most of the newsstand sales profits).

  • nina

    it’s sad I agree.

  • Eric

    If we compare the amount of magazines on the shelves today to a decade prior, you can see just how far we have come in the publishing world. And even though many magazines are folding there seem to be more smaller zines popping up in local markets.
    The machine we call publishing is under going the same changes that the music industry has been for years. People complain about file sharing but without it as well as MySpace tens of thousands of new bands and old would not have this new voice. This same effect can and will be seen more in our industry. We just have to ride the wave and utilize all the new technology available to us to our advantage and change to fit the new mold that evolves through trail and error.
    Sure Annie’s career was bolstered by Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, but if you follow the major magazines back to the late 80′s you will see that the same photographers are still working for the same magazines!
    Maybe it is time for us to change and create a new way to become known. Maybe the Super Photographers are just like the Super models. A term from the past that can not be applied to a new generation of talent. It is up to us to create our new title per say and we can do that with the internet, digital technology, and a much much greater talent pool that will force the best to work harder.