Unboxing ‘Emulsion’ – the Phoblographer’s zine

Well, it was a long time coming, long enough that I forgot it was coming, even, but it arrived, and it’s not quite what I expected, and Chris Gampat (the Phoblographer) put together a nice (maga)zine.

Clocking in at an even 100 pages, ‘Emulsion’ features “the best modern analog photographers from the Editor of the Phoblographer photography blog,” and includes an interview with and set of images from Lester Jones, Jeremy Thomas Bryant, Christos Saltapidas, Luca-Mercedes Stemer, Jay Marroquin, Mikah Manansala, Nils Karlson, Kay Adams, Marko Jokic, Daniel Zvereff, Simon Chetrit, and Anastasia Egonyan.

The works largely tend towards the documentary/street, lifestyle/fashion, or new topographic genres, with a little bit of experimental and process-based work thrown in to help balance things out, and all the photographers are quite accomplished at their craft, and there’s some stunning and inspiring work throughout, though I wonder if some of it is tends a bit towards gimmick or fad, and expect some of it will fade away and be lost to time.

Good thing the Phoblographer put out this zine, then, to fix it more or less permanently in the physical realm.

So. Photos: good. Interviews: decent. Print quality: good. Where the zine falls down is in the layout. It’s nigh-on impossible to tell when you switch from one body of work to another, or to determine which photographer’s work you’re looking at. Photographs are universally untitled. The text layout is painful: some interviews are completely in italics, some are in 40pt font, others in 10pt, and it switches from 4- to 2- to 1-column layouts with seemingly no thought or care to reader experience, and it does a disservice to the photographers.

I really hate to be so critical. And I hate to say it, but I hope Gampat didn’t pay anyone to do the layout for him, and also hope that he didn’t do it himself… Down, boy. Down.

Concept
Content
Design

Overall, I’ll give it 3 stars. The good concept (semi-, pro, and amateur photographers working at a very high level in the second decade of the 21st Century) and great content brings the score up mightily.

You can pick up a copy of ‘Emulsion’ on demand from Blurb. It’s $45. Honestly, after seeing it, holding it, and perusing it for nearly a month, I can’t recommend it for that price. It’s really just too hard to navigate. I Kickstartered it for $25, which is much more reasonable, I think. I know designing books and magazines is hard, and I probably couldn’t have done better. Sure, I’d probably try to keep body text a uniform size, font, and layout, and I’d probably put some kind of easily identifiable break between photographers, but that’s just about where my training in 2D and 3D and Graphic Design would run out of juice. But I don’t have the reach or the network or the gumption to put something like this together, so all kudos to the Phoblographer for making it happen! GoGo!

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