Creating a Street Photography Magazine
I recently published my second Street Photography Magazine (or "Zine" as they are often called) and I have received a lot of questions about the process. I decided to share how I did it in an effort to help anyone out there thinking of doing the same thing.
My second magazine "ton" was a fun experience, I was less nervous about the process having already made one the year before and felt infinitely more confident the end product would be something that would make me happy.
I think there is too much noise and negative influence on would be creators these days. There is room for everyone the only question you should ask is if you can afford to spend money on a "Zine" as a project. If you can, do it. Put yourself out there, everyone has an opinion already anyway so why not do something that makes you feel good?
To help get you started I have broken down the process into five steps. This is by no means the definitive way of creating a zine or book, but it is a process that has worked for me.
1. Decide on a Theme!
Don't overthink this part! My themes were about as loose as they come but you need something to help you focus and recenter yourself through the process. For my second book it started with a phrase, I was talking to someone about my previous year of photography and told them it was a "Ton of fun". This little turn of phrase led me to think about how despite "Ton" commonly being a term of weight it was also a slang word that often meant one hundred. On the back of this I decided to collect my favorite one hundred images from the previous year and create a zine.
"ton” is used as a measurement of weight. However, in Britain it is also used informally to refer to 100 of something or as a metaphor for something substantial."
Your theme can be as loose, or laser focused as you like. Maybe it's a collection of shots from one particular street corner, photos of pub facades or whatever else you want. Just choose your theme first. Write it down with a short explanation of why you chose it. This will give you something to come back to every time you get sidetracked, or you become unsure of what to include.
2. Select Your Images.
Once you decided on your theme, this part should be a lot easier. Start collecting the images you like into a single folder. In my case I copied the images to a new folder on my desktop. I then went through and renamed the files with numbers in the order I imagined they were going to appear in my magazine (I refined this many times throughout, but it can really help just seeing the thumbnails next to each other).
During this stage it is important to remember that if you have previously only shared your images on social media the chances are they will look much different when printed in a larger format. Open each image on your computer screen and check for things you might normally miss when viewed on a small phone screen.
It's also worth thinking about what image you want to have as your cover image (If you will use one) during this stage. Choose a punchy image that will get people's attention or one that really tells the story you are trying to convey with your project. For me I actually changed my cover image. Initially I had a much darker image of a man's hand on a plane. While I do love this shot it was far too dark and I could tell it wouldn't work once I had it in place.
The Original Cover Image
My Final Cover Image
3. Decide on Your Design
For the design of the magazine, I used "Adobe Indesign". If you have never used this before Adobe usually offers a 7-day free trial. If you have your images ready and you don't wait for a test print this might be enough time to finish your product. I already use a number of Adobe products, so it was just a case of extending my subscription to include this.
There are hundreds of sites out there offering advice on "free alternatives to Indesign" and a simple google search will give you everything you need to make your own mind up. Indesign was useful for me because they offered a number of templates for magazine designs that allowed me to refine an existing design to my own taste instead of starting from scratch.
This stage is very personal to each creator however I will offer some advice based on my own experiences.
Decide on the size of your magazine before you start to arrange any images or text. Compare this against the sizes offered by your preferred printing supplier to make sure it is supported. Changing the size of your magazine halfway through can mean you will have to go and realign all the content again (Trust me this is offered as a suggestion through personal experience). Bleedlines are important if you want full page images. Also think about what images you use if they are across two pages. The crease of the magazine will affect the image, so it is best to not use any image with a centrally located subject or focal point.
The final piece of advice is to ensure your export your design in the best quality possible. I exported my magazine to PDF as individual pages. There is some guidance online that will help guide you through this process for Adobe Indesign. Do some research and make sure you have the highest quality output for printing.
4. Print and Then Print Again
I am based in the UK, and I used a company called Mixam to print my magazines. They have a very user-friendly online interface, the quality of their product has been amazing, and you get an immediate online cost once you select your printing parameters. 30 copies printed in full color (104 sides) cost me, a little over 220 GBP (7 - 8 GBP per copy).
Whatever printing company you use, there are a few things I would recommend (again through personal experience). Order a test print of your magazine. I can guarantee there will be something you missed. Go through your printed copy and mark up all the issues you see and then ask someone you trust to do the same.
Be as thorough as you can when reviewing the test print. It's a lot harder to accept when you have your final print batch and then you notice something. Repeat the test print process as many times as you want —I'd recommend doing it at least once!
I have a friend who was a writer, and she pointed out so many obvious grammatical errors in my writing that I couldn't believe how many there were.
To the left are the selections I made to print my own magazine. I would recommend speaking to the printer if you have any questions.
5. Share What You Created!
Now the fun part. Once you have your work in hand be proud and share it with anyone you want to. You could try to sell your copies through your social media platform or website or simply use them as gifts for family and friends.
I chose to do a little of both. It was a way for me to share with my family something they could hold in their hand and keep as a reminder of my work. I gave away about 15 copies of my magazine, kept a few for myself and put the remaining copies online for sale.
I wouldn't recommend going into this process expecting to make a lot of money. Between subscriptions, shipping materials, time and print costs I would have had to sell almost all of my magazines just to break even. I researched the costs and decided on a number of copies that represented a cost I was willing to outlay. Anything I made back through sales was an unexpected bonus.
Let me know if you make your own Zine or if you have any questions about a project you are trying to realise. I'm always willing to talk and share any experience I have that could potentially help you. Just remember that ultimately it doesn't matter what anyone thinks other than yourself. There is room for us all.
Be Kind and keep creating - Court Richards Photography