I found out today the CVS near me doesn’t process any kind of film anymore, and yet they have a bunch of kiosks to print digital pictures. It was kind of odd.
Anyways, I was collecting film from a bunch of my cheap, plastic cameras that I carry around with me to take random photos and suddenly became really intrigued by one of the central principles around film: you can’t see the pictures.
The main reason I still use my old cameras is because by the time I get my film developed, I’ve completely forgotten what pictures I took. It might sound corny and nostalgic, but there’s something genuinely exciting about reliving all those random moments.
I’d really like to capture that feeling. I’m not quite sure how I’ll go about it, but I think it has a potential for a visual narrative or type of interaction within my magazine.
I’m collecting stories of people experiences with the movement past the loss of someone they care about. It’s could be anything from getting into a fight with your significant other or losing your grandmother. It could be the feeling like your losing yourself and then slowly finding your way back. There is room for interpretation within this theme.
I understand I’m asking for stories with nothing in return. But I hope that at the end of this project, I’ll be able to upload my final product (a digital magazine) to an online platform so it can be shared. I would really love to hear anything you have to say about the experiences you’ve had.
I’m looking to keep everything anonymous, but if you’d like to be credited, just let me know.
You can email me at email@example.com. Please use “tumblr story” for the subject line.
Over the last week I’ve been trying to develop what is essentially the crux of this project: the narrative. In my photography, I begin with a particular story in mind and that story seems to grow somewhat organically into something else. Sometimes this is good. But more often than not, I feel like I stumble into good stories instead of being able to consciously cultivate them throughout my process.
And, unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to sit down and force brilliant thoughts to magically appear in your brain.
So, I did what what helps me best during periods of creative blocks; I procrastinated. I went for long walks with no real purpose, found a new band to listen to, and spent hours and hours looking at other people’s photographs.
Then, I had the thought to look at my photographs from the last semester. That was a very good thought, since I was able to analyze narratives I had previously built. My last narrative is the composition I have decided to use as a starting point. (see photos above)
The above series of photographs depicts someone piecing together a memory from the small scenes in their life. How someone remembers another person or an event is extremely subjective, and though there is a defined mood throughout the series, there is no transparent story. The weight of these scenes carries different meaning for the person depicted within these photographs. I think it’s kind of fascinating how these transient moments begin to build and define a particular memory.
The movement through this story will be divided into three sections that embody particular states of mind as well as the elevation from one state of mind to the next. Each section will have a combination of content I have generated myself as well as stories and photographs I have collected from others.
The overall atmosphere of the first section is one of confusion and loss. These moments are the aftershock of some painful event. It’s having something and then suddenly not having it. That next morning, even that next day, is a long stretch of gray, where you’re still trying to process what has occurred and how you should react to it. You continue with your routine, but suddenly these little elements of your life dredge up memories of how things were before. It’s nostalgia that hurts.
The second section will focus on the fragmented pull between the first and last sections. The primary themes play with the idea of masking and pretending. You are now forced to start absorbing this loss, but at the same time, you must continue your routine. It’s feeling almost fine one moment and then feeling overwhelmed the next. This section will contain slightly more structure and clarity than the first. However, there will be sudden moments within the content where the mood shifts dramatically back to the first section, and then has to rebuild back to a neutral plane.
The third and last section will be lighter, more positive, and focused on the final feeling of acceptance. There is no longer a feeling of pretending. It’s genuine contentment. This does not mean everything is happy-go-lucky, but it’s a mood of feeling unburden. I want it to personify that moment when you breathe again. Relief.
Next steps: creating mood boards and begin generating ideas for content within each section.
Sadly, the current iPad magazine applications are lacking. They are essentially print magazines cut up into digital form. It’s as if the magazine companies want to people reading digital magazines to feel like their reading print magazines. But what’s wrong with embracing the capabilities of a digital format? There is so much more they could do with currently available technologies.
Take Martha Stewart’s first iPad magazine, for example. The theme of the issue was “Beauty”. The magazine really was beautiful. Out of the many digital magazine covers I’ve seen, Martha’s takes the cake. You open the application and immediately there’s a full time lapse animation of a blooming carnation on your screen. What really impressed me was how they overlaid static text over this continuing animation. It was a simple, almost joyful experience in those first moments of viewing the magazine.
Some other companies, such as TIME and VIV magazine, have also created moving front covers. The big exception: their covers play a video, then become static once the cover article text appears on the screen.
Additionally, a giant “Open Issue” button appears across the screen, which looks visually unappealing and distracts from the featured stories. Martha’s “play cover video” blocks none of the content and is not visually distracting. Sunset magazine also does a pretty awesome job at the moving cover idea. (See the video below.)
Looking at overall content organization, digital magazines continue to use their previous conventions of sectioning articles by topic. (Martha’s magazine does this less because her first digital magazine had a specific theme and no predefined topic sections.) This is fine and what users expect when they flip open a magazine. All of the articles are neatly organized into their own slots, which consequentially means that they offer no cohesive story. Even “themed” issues (i.e. “Fall”, “Beauty at Every Age”, or “Body Shape”) use the same sections and simply find different content to fit.
Ideally, I’d like each issue of my magazine to be it’s own story. Like a series of books, or possibly even more like a library collection. Like a book, every issue should be something the reader can revisit and enjoy again.
The best example of what I’d like to do with my project is Letter to Jane magazine. Tim Moore has done a brilliant job of allowing interaction to support the content, rather than content becoming an empty vessel to support “cool” features. He explains part of his though process on the notion of a digital magazine:
My mindset from the start was to give the people what they want, but not in a way they were expecting. That meant that I knew that I wanted to expand the issue from just photos and text to add video and make it more interactive. After I came to that conclusion I seldom thought about what would please people, or what the other competition was doing. This was probably the most isolated I’ve ever been on working on a project. I surrounded myself with all the art, music, film, etc. that inspired me and just drew from those inspirations. I made work that got me and my friends excited, but I always tried to remember at every step that everything had to be universal enough so that everyone could find something they liked in this issue.
That first sentence sums it up. Give people what they want, but not in a way they expect. I want to instigate curiosity and delight, and more importantly, I would like people to stop a moment to absorb the articles and pictures instead of mindlessly scrolling through everything.
That’s one of the troubles with picture based blogs. With endless scroll, it’s easy to only spend half a second on each picture and then move on. You end up with a nice visual overload, but no real memory or appreciation of what you’ve seen. I think the biggest advantage of print publications is that ability to stop for a second and reflect. My goal is to bring that moment of reflection to a digital application.
I’ve decided that I’m going to make a book-a-zine.
But first, let me fill in some backstory.
I’m trying to marry two semi-contrasting concepts together. We have concept number one: the book. Conventionally, books are text based stories. You read them front to back, beginning to end. They have a narrative arch that you are supposed to follow in order to understand the story. It’s generally difficult to jump into the middle of a book and immediately understand what’s going on.
Magazines (concept number two) allow the reader to jump into the middle without consequence. Even though a magazine has a general flow from section to section, the content is usually divided by topic and appears in the same place for every issue of the magazine
I’d like to create a magazine that reads more like a book, but doesn’t eliminate the reader’s ability to jump back and forth between pieces of content.
I’m not entirely sure how to accomplish this yet. But this blog will act as an way to track my progress, post things that inspire me along the way, and become a reminder of my original intent for the project.