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Old 14th October 2017
KeithL KeithL is offline
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Ended AP

After having a subscription to AP for several years, I have ended my subscription. I have been feeling uncomfortable with AP for a while now, and have passed a little comment about it on the forum.
So why did I take this step?

AP, for me, has lost something: I can't really explain, but I think it has lost its way, lost its soul. Today's edition is so typical: the headline "Bird Photo Masterclass. What it takes to win in Bird Photographer of the Year 2018" says it all. It's not for me.

About three weeks ago there was a letter in it from a chap who asked if there could be articles on ideas for people such as he, 86, can't drive, and wondering how to carry on his photography. "Could AP", he said, "publish ideas for local subjects, for instance?" Well, I'm 72, and I feel that it doesn't have much, if anything, suitable for me either - and I can drive still.

A week or so later there was another letter, asking why it's still called "Amateur" Photographer, when it's really for professionals. So much of its content is by professionals for professionals. People perhaps 40 or so, at the peak of their photographic career. Fit, can go yomping over heath and mountain looking for landscapes or wildlife. People like Harry Borden, talking about celebs they have photographed. All very nice, but us ordinary mortals aren't in that situation, and won't ever be. The response from AP was that "the definition of amateur has changed". NO - it's either amateur or it isn't!

If you go to any photographic club, the majority of members are in my age group. Very few are into serious national or international competitions, much less winning them.

I wonder if AP is simply suffering from the same problem that for instance TV is: saturation. It has really run out of new ideas. It isn't sure who its audience is now. So it tries to be all things to all people, and, if we are honest, doesn't succeed. We are told that paper magazines are in decline. Well, if they don't get fresh ideas, and work out who their audience is, they will fail. To be frank, us oldies aren't going to keep buying the latest and greatest kit. We aren't going to be lying in wet heather for hours photographing ptarmigans mating. We aren't going to win awards for our photography - and don't want to. We want to find ways to keep enjoying our hobby for as long as we can, not take it too seriously, and engage in social contact whilst doing it. I spent my working life in a highly technical job; I couldn't be bothered to read Professor Newman's articles. They are irrelevant to me. I generally don't read camera or kit reviews; the new cameras being reviewed are usually beyond my pocket. "Joe Bloggs is a fantastic photographer who goes all over the world, and wins every plaudit going, and I should try to emulate him": well, so what? Rubbing my nose in it?

The whole aura feels wrong now. Am I alone in this? i doubt it.
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

I agree with much of what you say, Keith, AP seems to have lost its way. Once an avid reader, I now buy it only occasionally and am usually disappointed with the content.
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Stopped years ago and no longer look at the web site...
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Certainly, its not the same but then think how much photography has altered! Cameras today have altered! Any guy with a phone has more power than we had the film cameras of our day?
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Now that cameras do everything for us apart perhaps from actual composition, there is little to be discussed in a magazine. Forty years ago when I used to read AP occasionally it was a different world. The keen photographer would choose and process their own films and make prints in a home darkroom, and there was endless scope for experimentation to get the best results. Film speeds were limiting compared to modern digital sensors, and there was plenty to learn to improve our photography. There were loads of adverts for different hardware and processing chemistry, and tips and tricks to help you along the way. Nowadays it's virtually impossible to take a badly exposed or out-of-focus image, and it's also very difficult to tweak the equipment beyond the menu settings the manufacturer provides - whether it's hardware or software. Any deficiencies in a lens can be fixed with software like DxO Optics Pro. My own personal limitations are the issue now, not my camera's!

It's the same with cars. You can't adjust pretty much anything in a modern car without a computer, and they are all so much better than they were that choosing one over the other is pretty much like choosing a washing machine. So I don't buy car magazines either any more ...

And don't start me on computers! The "personal" computer is now a misnomer, it's very difficult to mess about with (or even maintain) Windows now, and we are no longer in control. If DOS crashed it was pretty easy to find out why and fix it. In early versions of Windows you could fairly easily find a file you wanted, now File Explorer hides so much or obscures the file structure that finding anything other than a simple document can be frustrating. Try finding where Skype stores an attached file for instance!

I'm rambling. Anyway, I haven't bought a copy of AP this century I don't think .
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

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Originally Posted by yorky View Post
Certainly, its not the same but then think how much photography has altered! Cameras today have altered! Any guy with a phone has more power than we had the film cameras of our day?
Yes, I agree - but that's also why AP needs to be rethought. I haven't taken any of the others for a long time, but they are a different format, and from what little I've seen of them, seem exclusively for young people. Where is the photo magazine that caters for us oldies? I think AP could be that magazine, but it isn't. It doesn't cater for beginners either.

A new member of the U3A photo group that I lead bought a good camera (Canon 7D) good lenses, went off to Antarctica and then Arctic, took loads of photos. Afterwards tried to find a club that would teach her how to process the results - all of which are JPGs. She tried a camera club; it was all about competitions. She looked in magazines; they didn't help. She looked for courses; no luck. When she came to talk with me about our group, I sat her down with me in front of my computer, and showed her some of the things that Affinity does. She had just set her camera to auto, and went with it. After a while of talking, she asked me how to attach more than one photo to an email. Soon dealt with that one! I think this illustrates a need, and it sure isn't filled. We can do so, because our U3A group is small. Is this a type of person that AP should seek to cater for?

I think AP needs to understand its target market far better than it does. Does it want to:
a) be a magazine for true amateurs?
b) be a magazine for only people who are youngish and fit? (already catered for)
c) be a magazine only for those who do competitions? (you'd think so, given the column-inches devoted to them!)
d) be a magazine for only people who constantly seek the last and greatest kit? (again, the column-inches suggest so)

And those are just some relevant questions. Like John (Zuiko) I find it almost always disappointing now. It falls between a lot of stools.
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

I am still enjoying Black & White Photography. It is mostly about photography, not much about technique (so probably wouldn't be much help to Keith's U3A friend). It has the odd equipment review, which I don't like much - whenever they review something that I know about they seem to miss the most important points! But it does feature a lot of photographs by a lot of photographers, and reproduces them well.

I appreciate that this may not be addressing the needs that Keith is referring to, but it is still worth a look.

John
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
I agree with much of what you say, Keith, AP seems to have lost its way. Once an avid reader, I now buy it only occasionally and am usually disappointed with the content.
Picked it up for the classifieds and ads in the days before the interwebbie. There was never much editorial content of interest in those days. I expect that the classifieds and ads aren't as interesting with people flogging their crap on ebay these days.

You could pick up some real bargains in those days, an Arca-Swiss B1 for half price and one of my Tenba Pro Pak bags was a similar deal.
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

For the last few years that I subscribed to AP, I was totally underwhelmed by the content. One of the things that really irked was that they invariably puffed up the value of competition prizes. They were always available at a lower value in the adverts within the magazine. Kit reviews seldom produce visually pleasing images and when the mag has to resort to lists of cameras owned by unknown photographers.........need I say anymore?

I do not envy the challenges that IPC face especially given the poverty of present day commentary on photography. This is in the hands of bloggers, IF you can find a good one.

David
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Old 14th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

One thing I have noticed recently. I usually glance at the magazine racks while waiting for SWMBO to decide between two colours of washing up liquid (quite why it takes 5 minutes is anyones guess). I'd estimate that for the past six months it's been hard to find any photo mags and if you find any it's just a single title. Gone are the days when you could find half a dozen titles to pick from.
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Old 15th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

I read it online through my local library from time to time. I wouldn't buy it, much less subscribe. It has never been the same since Victor Blackman
I do subscribe to Outdoor Photography and sometimes do wonder why, some of the images leave me cold, but, there are not so many adverts as the AP and the locations section is always good for ideas. I do like the wildlife pages and reviews too, not just camera gear, boots, camping stoves ETC.
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Old 15th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

I stopped reading it years ago. Samie is the word I would use.

AP tries (when I last read it) to be all to everybody. Beginners may well find some of the articles to be helpful, but the more experienced photographer would see that as being so basic as not worth reading.

It was certainly the same with sailing magazines, being told how to anchor for the 100th time was of little interest for someone who has anchored their boat for a couple of seasons. (maybe one!)

Venues are interesting, if you don't mind forming a queue when you get there.

Alas it's anno dominii that's the problem, or can be. We (70yo) can still learn and I personally enjoy learning. Plenty of learning to be had here on our forum...
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Old 15th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

I agree with Keith completely - I only rarely actually buy AP anymore - I flick through AP in the newsagents regularly still just to check out the content and (very) occasionally buy a copy if there is an article of specific interest to me.

Jim
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Old 15th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Glad to see that I'm not alone in feeling the way that I do about AP. As well as trying to be all things to all people, I think it's trying to compete with other magazines on their terms, not its own. That can be fatal.

My cousin recommended Professional Black and White Photography magazine. I shall see what I can find - if I can find a decent newspaper/magazine outlet first!

And I agree about the forum. You can't really ask questions of a magazine (well, you can, but you probably won't get an answer - paper magazines don't talk) but you certainly can of the forum; and sometimes you even get answers. Brilliant! But the forum caters for what its users want, and goes with them; whereas any magazine goes with what its publishers want. They aren't the same thing!
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Old 15th October 2017
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Re: Ended AP

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithL View Post
But the forum caters for what its users want, and goes with them; whereas any magazine goes with what its publishers want. They aren't the same thing!
I suspect that these days it's more about what their major advertisers want.
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