(Above photograph by Charlie Kirk)
Eric’s Note: I am pleased to feature this interview with Stu Egan, the founder and editor of Radiate Magazine – a magazine dedicated to street photography. Stu currently works in London as a book editor and works on Radiate Magazine to help the street photography community and feature talented photographers. Check out this interview with him below about how he got interested in street photography and how he started the magazine.
1. Great to have you Stu! To start off, can you tell us how you started your interest in street photography?
Thanks very much. I started getting interested in street photography about 5 or 6 years ago, and it was gradual rather than one specific ‘eureka’ moment. I think it slowly dawned on me over time that – of the images I was looking at in books, in exhibitions or online – I was fascinated by certain types much more than others. As I explored more I went down the usual paths and started finding work by street photographers past and present that I really liked.
2. You are currently the editor and the founder of “Radiate Magazine”. For those who may not be familiar with the magazine, can you tell us more about what the mission statement of the magazine is and why you decided to name it “Radiate”?
Radiate is a relatively new bi-annual publication (I’m about to start on the third issue next week), available in print and as a PDF, and it covers street photography in all its many guises. My main intention originally was simply to showcase great street photography I’d enjoyed seeing myself with a wider audience, but also to present it in the best way I could in order to do justice to the photographers featured.
As things have developed I guess I’ve realised a ‘wider audience’ is not really realistic – most people aware of the mag or interested in it so far are other street photographers, but it’s fine by me. As for the name ‘Radiate’, I vaguely recall seeing Joel Meyerowitz say something typically astute about street photography and using the word, but unfortunately can’t remember where I saw it now. It might be on The Genius of Photography TV series, or the early 80s documentary on YouTube where he’s stood around taking pictures and talking with Colin Westerbeck. I tried a few names, quite a few of which sucked, but ‘Radiate’ seemed to fit and sounded cool.
3. Publishing a magazine is a ton of work and must be a logistical nightmare. How do you manage the publishing process and how do you find contributors to devote their energy and time to Radiate?
There’s way more to do each issue than I expected but I can’t really moan about the time I’ve spent working on the magazine, as fundamentally I really enjoy doing it, and on top of that if I use 10 or 12 images a photographer has made I only have to think about how long it has taken them to make these great pictures, and the effort they’ll have put in. Years of work with each photographer…much more than moving a few jpegs and text boxes around on screen.
That said, the level of work involved is basically one of the reasons it’s bi-annual – so that I could work on it for a few months and then take a break from it for a few months. As it’s self-published using Magcloud there’s not really any printing or distribution for me to worry about or deal with at the moment. I’d like to keep it that way as the operational side of things doesn’t really interest me much.
4. What is your take on online magazines versus print magazines? Radiate offers both but I assume most people consume it online as a PDF. What advantages would you say that the print version has – and is there really that much of a difference?
You’re right – most people pick up the PDF, but it’s understandable seeing as it’s free. It’s a good question but I don’t think it’s a case of online versus print – I just think you’ve got to offer people both options these days as that’s what we all expect as the norm. I looked around at what other people were doing, and it seemed that most were offering online versions or PDFs as well as print versions, or not bothering with the print version. But it seems obvious to me that a magazine about photography should be print first and then whatever else secondary to that.
The magazine has been downloaded thousands of times already, and there’s no way it would have reached that number of people if it was only available in print for $21 an issue. I can only say that it looks way, way, better in your hands, but if people want to look at it for free then viewing it on Issuu is much better than the PDF. Most PDFs are viewed as single pages so when an image is spread across two pages you’ll be looking at the left half, then the right half, rather than the whole picture. For those not familiar with it Issuu shows the full spreads as default.
5. You feature many street photography essays and projects in Radiate. For those who may be interested in starting their own project- what are some characteristics you think make a strong project or essay?
I think there are better places to look for advice than from me, but I guess after you’ve looked at a lot most people can tell when something has been edited tightly. I’ve looked at some projects knowing that the photographer behind it is probably sitting upon some amazing photos that just didn’t make the final cut for whatever reason, and it probably takes a pretty strong character to do that. Editing and sequencing are real skills, but you could argue it’s also much easier to do with the work of others than it is to do on your own photographs. So I’d say seek the opinions of knowledgeable people you trust to be honest with their feedback. (I need to heed that advice myself too.)
6. As technology marches forward, do you think that there is room for print in the digital age? If so, how do you imagine the role of print evolving over the course of time?
I think there’s an important distinction to be made – mainstream magazines are really struggling, but smaller, independent DIY magazines are thriving, so perhaps we’ll see less of the former and more of the latter. Here’s a good article from last weekend’s Observer in the UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/apr/15/magazine-print-lovers-printout-stack
I have to admit I’m a bit of a Luddite and I love books, magazines and vinyl. I haven’t got a Kindle or an iPad and my TV is a shitty old box thing that my friends laugh at! So personally I hope there is a future for print as it’s my preferred format. I can’t see the numbers of print readers reducing that much, but then people buying vinyl and 35mm film in the 60s would probably say the same about those formats, so we’ll have to see. I guess it could become a niche thing in a generation or two, with its own champions.
The thing with any photography magazine is that it’s better to have in your hand rather than on a screen, but plenty of people will either disagree or not even contemplate it as an issue nowadays…especially now that tablets are becoming so widespread. Things have changed and are changing rapidly. Probably the best chance print has is to offer unique content; that said, all the images in Radiate so far can be found online on the respective photographers’ blogs/websites/Flickr streams, so I probably need to wise up or perish!
7. If you could describe Radiate in three words, what would they be?
Life, without ads.
8. If people may be interested in contributing to Radiate Magazine, how can they do so and what are some cliches they may want to steer clear of?
I’d welcome any contributions, but first I’d say take a look at the first couple of issues and think about the quality that’s in there – people like Damian Chrobak or Cary Conover for example…they’re really good. There are only 6 or 7 people featured per issue and there are a lot of good street photographers out there…but I don’t mean to sound too discouraging or anything! The whole point of the magazine is to celebrate what people are doing in this sudden boom of street photography. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m @stuegan on Twitter.
9. Where do you want to see Radiate Magazine in a year from now?
Being published directly from a hammock in the Bahamas, as opposed to directly from an untidy flat in south London. But more seriously, some people have given me good advice on printers and places to distribute in the UK, which is probably worth exploring when I’m a few issues in. That would reduce the price of the hard copy for the UK perhaps but not the rest of the world, and most people that have bought issues so far are in the US. I haven’t looked into the financial outlay of doing things differently and I’m trying to save for a mortgage at the moment, so it’ll probably continue ‘as is’ for the time being.
10. This is a question I ask almost everyone I interview (Charlie Kirk knows well) – what is some advice you would give aspiring street photographers?
Nah, I’ll pass again! Sorry! To me it looks like all the best advice is contained in the best pictures.
11. Any particular people you would like to give a shout-out or thanks to?
I’ve obviously thanked them all personally but I really ought to say thanks again to the photographers that have contributed to the first two issues, for free. I’m sorry I’ve not been able to pay for using the photos; luckily most people I’ve approached understand and have bought into the idea behind the magazine. Charlie Kirk’s been helpful in terms of bouncing ideas around. And thanks for the plugs here Eric, and for interviewing me.
Make sure to get a paper-copy, as it is damn lovely.
Make sure to follow Stu by checking out his links below!
Any other questions you got for Stu or Radiate Magazine? Leave them in the comments below!