Just Discovered: JPG Magazine

This weekend I have had my best friend out to visit from the East Coast. Jon is wonderful photographer out of New York City who I have known for going on 10 years now. Living on opposite coasts, we don’t get to see each other in person much so it was great to spend a whole weekend catching up with each other and talking/sharing/shooting photos.

There are a lot of topics that we discussed that I will write about as time permits in the next week. But he turned me on to JPG Magazine today and had to share my initial thoughts. Wow, what a great magazine for the enthusiast through semi-professional photographer looking for wider exposure.

JPG Magazine is a bridge between the traditional print media and the new social photography phenomenon that has been hitting us for the past few years. It is both a photography magazine as well as a social community designed around helping to produce the magazine as well as increase your exposure as a photographer. They are currently working on Issue 10 (they have been around since 2004 printing 6 issues a year) and have 3 different photo themes for which they are asking for submissions: Entropy, Breakthrough, and Beauty Redefined. As a member of the community, I can submit photos for these issue topics (or other topics that haven’t been committed to an issue yet) as well as vote to help pick which ones get in.

The mixed nature of the magazine really resonates with me! There are aspects of the social photography communities that I really enjoy, but then there are the loosely tangible benefits that come along with them. I know and appreciate the value in JPG Magazine and plan on getting involved as part of my photography activities.

That said, after a few minutes on their website there were annoyances to the website functionality that struck a nerve with me. Jon tells me that “I like to complain about stuff”, but it’s less that than his favorite phrase “people who were raised by wolves would know better”.

(As an aside, we both got to know each other through working together in the technology industry and we share a common trait of understanding that technology is about the user and efficiency and not about the technology or quickest/easiest path to completion).

One of the balancing acts with social communities online, is the time suck they can become. We have all spent a few minutes on a social community website only to realize a few hours later that we lost track of time and didn’t get done what we originally intended. Time is the most precious resource we have and we need to treat it that way. I have the goal of being more judicious in this sense, committing time to social communities but also trying to optimize my efforts.

On this topic, the photo voting process that JPG Magazine uses is very in-efficient. When you have 1000’s of photos submitted for a category, I want to provide serious consideration to all of them, but can’t do that without investing more time that I can afford. I have submitted a feature request on this to them, and I’m looking forward to hearing their response.

In my opinion, I should be allowed to filter the photos based upon which ones I have viewed or not viewed. Then I can turn on the “show me not viewed photos” filter, and flip through the thumbnail screens quickly (each time I look a thumbnail it gets removed via the filter). Then if something catches my eye, I can look at the larger image and vote yes/no on if it fits the category. This optimizes my time as a voter. As a submitter, I should then be able to view how many times a photo was viewed, voted yes/no for different themes, and ideally be able to get comments form voters as to why it did or didn’t fit the theme. The key aspect of community is sharing and feedback…they have one but need the other.

(If anyone from JPG Magazine reads this, please feel free to contact me if you want more details on my thoughts.)

I think JPG Magazine is a great idea and has huge potential for the future. Now that they have become part of 8020 Publishing, hopefully they will have the financial backing to unlock all their potential (they have the right parent for it).

If you haven’t see them yet, look for a print issue and check out their website. If your already a member, keep your eye out for my work on line…

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