I hear this question, or some version of it, a lot, for some reason: What’s the best photography magazine for beginners? And, these days, I’m never immediately sure how to answer that. Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem. But, now? What is the asker asking, exactly? Haven’t photography magazines largely gone the way of the dodo? Is this person actually asking for a photography e-zine, or perhaps people are starting to use the old word ‘magazine’ to refer to blogs, or something? Maybe it’s some sort of cool, modern, hip lingo that I haven’t yet clued into?
Anyway, photography magazines used be awesome. They were really my introduction to the technical aspects of photography, some twenty-plus years ago. I’d always had an interest in photography and, one day, through a series of some fortunate circumstances, I found myself with a fair deal of extra money (which really didn’t happen a lot for me back in those days) I’m not the type of person, nor have I ever been the type person, who commonly buys things for himself. I buy things I have a need for — but I almost never treat myself to anything. I don’t buy myself presents and gifts.
So, here I am with a substantial amount of extra money on me, and I think to myself: “You know? I never treat myself to anything. And, now I’ve got this extra cash… for once, I’m going to just spend some money on something I want — some sort of a toy, or something.” I always had an interest in photography — I was always snapping pictures with my old Kodak 110 point-and-shoot camera. And, I had, many times, said to myself “One day, I’m going to buy a good, pro-type camera. One of those ones where you can change the lenses, and what not.”
Now, I didn’t have A LOT of extra money — but, if memory serves, I had gotten to the end of the month, all of my bills were paid, and I had about $300.00 left over. Back in the early 1990’s, that was a fairly substantial amount. But, I wasn’t rich, or anything. I wanted a 35mm SLR camera. But, a new, decent SLR kit was substantially more than that. I found a place in my city that was called “The Camera Exchange”. They sold nothing but used camera equipment. So, I went there — where the staff (all highly experienced photographers themselves, of course) were exceedingly helpful, and set me up with a great kit for my $300 — An old, but in perfect condition, 35mm Minolta body, a 50mm lens, an old Chinon flash, and a camera bag to carry it all in.
I was hooked on photography from that day forward. And, each time I had some money to spend, I’d drop in on those guys to pick up some great used gear — a cable release here, a tripod there, a telephoto lens, etc., etc., Each time I’d visit, I’d be there for a good hour, at least, talking to these old pros — the newbie photographer getting tips and talking photography.
On about my third visit, I was talking one of the owners of the shop — picking his brain about photography techniques, and whatnot. He was a very accomplished photographer. And, as we stood in the store talking, he moved over to a section of the store where they kept a large selection of old photography books and magazines — photography magazines from back in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. As he talked to me, he’d pick a magazine off of a shelf, hand it to me and say “I saw an article in this magazine that explains (insert various photography related topic here), you might want to read that one.”, then, he’d pick another and say something like “Oh! There’s a really good article in this one about (such-and-such-photogaphy-technique) that I saw.”
When he was through, I was holding a stack of somewhere around ten to twelve photography magazines. I looked at them and each one had price tags on them that ranged anywhere from about $1.00 to $3.00. I had, in my hand, somewhere around $15.00 to $20.00 worth of old photography magazines. I said to him “Yeah. Great. Thanks. If I take them all, will you take ten bucks for the lot?” He answered “Oh, nah. Don’t worry about it. They’re yours. No charge.”
And, that began my love for photography magazines. Over about the next ten years, I really spent WAY too much money on constantly buying up new, current photography magazines. And, they were great. I learned A LOT from them.
Anyway, I thought you might be entertained somewhat with that story of my introduction to photography magazines. But, you’re here for suggestions regarding the best photography magazine for beginners, right? You’re probably bored as all get out with reading through that dumb recounting of an old, early photography memory. So, what actually is the best photography magazine for beginners?
Well, my top recommendation would be for an on-line photography magazine called Focus. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I do get paid for promoting that magazine. So, why wouldn’t it be my top recommendation, right? But, there is a reason why I choose to endorse that photography magazine over all others that I could also get paid for — and that’s because I do believe it is the best, and has, by far the best value. So, check it out and judge for yourself. When it comes to truly the best photography magazine for beginners that’s out there, anywhere, I really have seen no other that’s as jam-packed with tips, help and information specifically aimed at instructing beginner photographers in how to very quickly turn their images into striking, stunning pro-level photographs. It is one of the very few photography magazines specifically aimed at teaching beginners that is also very, very good.
And, for yet more suggestions, here’s a list of some of the best photography magazines for beginners:
- Focus Photography Magazine
- Popular Photography
- Practical Photography
- The British Journal of Photography
- Digital SLR Photography Magazine
- Professional Photographer Magazine
- Digital Photo Pro
- Blind Spot
- Nature Photographer
- EOS Magazine
- Foto8 Magazine
- Photography Monthly
And, here’s another, related, quick story about the above detailed experience with picking up that stack of old photography magazines twenty-some years ago, that you can also be bored by, if you wish: I still have most of them. Although, I haven’t looked at them in many, many, years. That is, until last night. Thinking of writing this article on the best photography magazine for beginners, it inspired me to go down to my basement and pull out some of those very magazines that were in that stack and begin looking through them.
I found one, in particular, and began thumbing through it. (Man! Those old photo magz were chock-full of great info.!) As I flipped through this one magazine — a magazine with an issue date of “June, 1967” — a card fell out from between its pages and onto the floor. I picked the card up and looked at it. It was a mail-in coupon offering a subscription of 12 issues to the magazine for the low, low price of just $3.00! I checked the entire card — there was no notice of any date wherein this offer expired. I then performed a quick check of the internet and it turns out that this particular magazine is STILL being published today! Its website lists the current price for a 12 issue subscription being $42.00. What do you think? Should I mail in my old 12-issues for $3.00 coupon from 1967?