JPG magazine folds
January 2, 2009 3:00 AM   Subscribe

JPG magazine is going out of business. An experiment in crowdsourcing, and the home of some excellent photos, the magazine and Web site are finished as of Monday, Jan. 5.

As a subscriber, I enjoyed the magazine. It was always a treat when it arrived in the mailbox; seeing the photos in print was more satisfying than viewing the online versions. JPG never published any of my photos, and while I was always a little surprised to get that "Thanks, but no thanks" e-mail, whenever I saw the finished product, I thought, "Well, *now* I understand."

The magazine was founded by Derek Powazek and Heather Champ, and when the company changed direction and they left/were forced out, Derek's blog post about the situation started (or at least publicized) a dustup that prompted an emotional thread on MeFi.

The other side (1, 2) was less well received than Derek's version. Some people think the controversy may have marked the beginning of the end for JPG.

Anyway, it looks as though the site will be up for just a few more days. If you enjoy photography and have some time this weekend, go take a look.
posted by diddlegnome (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Reminds me of the ill-fated handmade zeotrope company I launched around the time of the advent of VCR.
posted by fire&wings at 3:09 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did you mean Zoetrope? I'm not sure why anyone would want a home made Zeotrope.

And uh, yeah good riddance to corporate stoogery. I'm surprised they lasted this long.
posted by delmoi at 3:36 AM on January 2, 2009

Its for the best. I lost all interest in JPG post Heather and Derek anyway.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:43 AM on January 2, 2009

Got the email notice late last night (or early this morning, however you look at it). I had a dozen or so photos up. It was a good community, and I liked the feedback. But I was not particularly active, and I didn't follow the politics of it at all, except for what I read on MeFi.

But I'm a little sad for my daughter. She was very active there, and as a young, budding photographer, she very much valued the feedback and exposure. There are alternatives, so I'll point her toward them and life will go on.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:08 AM on January 2, 2009

I still like the idea of the JPG magazine and they had some great issues. Sad that they will begone ...
posted by homodigitalis at 6:26 AM on January 2, 2009

After seeing this and the recent closing of Pingmag, I'm hoping this isn't an indicator of more creative industry closings to come. American car companies I can handle, but when it's businesses I actually like, it's sad to see them go.
posted by p3t3 at 6:42 AM on January 2, 2009

What is a good place to go for feedback, if not exposure, on your photos? Flickr seems pretty much useless if you want more than "i liek the colors" from your feedback.
posted by echo target at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

To be honest, I thought JPG was already defunct.
posted by tommasz at 7:03 AM on January 2, 2009

blaneyphoto: "I lost all interest in JPG post Heather and Derek anyway."

Yep. That was handled so poorly that I promptly canceled my JPG account and never looked back.
posted by bshort at 7:33 AM on January 2, 2009

It was a very cool idea, and Derek and Heather are to be congratulated for realizing it. They will go on to better things, I'm certain. (Or maybe they already have? Anyone know?)
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:55 AM on January 2, 2009

What is a good place to go for feedback, if not exposure, on your photos? Flickr seems pretty much useless if you want more than "i liek the colors" from your feedback.

Photosig has a high level of quality in the images and the comments. Critique is usually thoughtful and constructive.

Photoblog allows 20 images a day, with captions. Getting feedback depends on making connections in the community and, obviously, sharing your blog with friends and strangers. It's great for showing themes or putting your latest work on one page.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:02 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Here's the Wikipedia page for Photosig.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:03 AM on January 2, 2009

I'm not sure why anyone would want a home made Zeotrope.

Deep respect for Raoult's law?
posted by moonmilk at 8:04 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure why anyone would want a home made Zeotrope.

That's because you've never really given a damn about proportional miscibility. You god damned poseur.
posted by nanojath at 8:25 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, looking forward to the new round of hearing the super most bad ever economy invoked over and over and over as umpteen unsustainable businesses explain their demises. Party like it's Nineteen Ninety Something!
posted by nanojath at 8:29 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

What is a good place to go for feedback, if not exposure, on your photos?

The forums at Fred Miranda are a pretty good place.
posted by chris24 at 8:35 AM on January 2, 2009 has a large community of mainly professional photographers, who give very constructive, useful criticism. It's not really for the flickr crowd, but anyone serious about photography would be welcome.
posted by fatbird at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2009

Looked great, but it wasn't filling. The photos were what I think you call photos from a good day on flickr, filtered via someone with decent but not particularly challenging taste. There were hardly any articles in it, however. If you wanted a magazine version of a coffee table book, something just to keep with coffee table material lively without spending $80 or whatever on a book, why not just come out quarterly? Otherwise, give the world something that they don't already have. Most of the photo magazines out there are filled with geeky, overly technical material. Then there are the wildly expensive fine arts magazines. The idea of presenting something in between was a good idea, but the end product was thin, too low-calorie.

It is surprising how many new magazines still come out every year, meanwhile. I was reading the new (and far more than decent) Oxford American magazine's southern music issue and reading slams against nostalgia and the obsolescence of trains and whatnot and thinking, Do the editors have any self-awareness or sense of irony? Then came a long piece by the publisher of the now defunct (unless you count the website) No Depression, railing against the dying of the light for printed music journalism--this, still, presented with nary a trace of irony.

JPG, though ... a computer file name for a magazine? What is it with the continuing attraction of magazines, even for folks who fancy themselves cutting edge? Love is blind?
posted by raysmj at 8:58 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Flickr seems pretty much useless if you want more than "i liek the colors"

Depends on who your contacts are.
posted by 2sheets at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Flikr's interestingness picks are practically useless most of the time. I saw three "generic hot chick" type entries the other day, followed by several overdone HDR photos, etc. But it's easier to upload photos to flickr than it is to countless other sites online, so there is much more variety at the site than the interestingness selections would suggest. Those picks are getting so bad, however, that I wonder if they'll end up turning flickr into a ghettoized MySpace of photography, if that's not happening already.
posted by raysmj at 9:59 AM on January 2, 2009

I could never understand naming a print magazine after a file format synonymous with low-resolution RGB images. I mean, I understand the hipster aspect, but it's a real fail otherwise.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2009

Another thing I've never heard of is dying. Not snarking, just stating my view of this. Interesting concept, started using Flickr for community discussions, Gmail for submissions, Notifylist for the mailing list, and ultimately Lulu for printing the magazine - in other words, a new community utilizing existing opportunities.

My first foray into sharing and talking about my photos was Photographica, which is somewhat like MeFi for photographers ("A Community Photojournal"). I haven't been active there in years, so I can't speak to the quality of feedback and such, but it still seems to be alive. I found some amazing pictures years ago, and even bought some prints from a lass in Europe (which was exciting for me, as I hadn't paid an artist directly for their work before, and never from an overseas artist). The site's use of pop-ups to display photos is a bit odd, but I like the story-base presentation method.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on January 2, 2009

I always thought JPG was a really good idea that could have been amazing if they had just edited better. I subscribed since issue #1 and enjoyed flipping through it, but their pseudo-hipster lomo aesthetic was the main thing holding them back. I saw a lot of really great work on the website that never, ever got chosen because it was too polished or challenging for their audience I guess. It was like Flickr Interestingness - lots of bad processing, saturation +100, out of focus toy camera type stuff that doesn't offer anything beyond the surface. I did make some good contacts with other photographers through their website though, and some of my work made their 'outtakes' 2 or 3 times which was decent enough exposure.

When people asked me what I thought the editorial world was going to be like post-internet I always used JPG as an example of how the two could be merged successfully, regardless of what I thought of their aesthetic direction. I'm sad to see them go.

Any other young editorial photographers looking for feedback beyond the average Flickr comment should check out the forum on Too Much Chocolate.
posted by bradbane at 11:34 AM on January 2, 2009

I could not agree more with raysmj. I was quite excited for the launch of JPG, but the end result was thin and unsatisfying. I'm hardly a professional, but the photos were good but not great, and most damningly, the articles were a complete joke. They were practically embarrasing just to read -- vague, tossed-off, superficial little blips that read like amateurish blog entries. I would love to see a magazine fill that niche between the hyper-geeky photo mags and the artmags, that "prosumer" market, but JPG was executed poorly -- it never gave the impression that anyone had put much thought into it. I don't think it failed because of the controversy, I think it failed because it simply wasn't a particularly good publication.
posted by tigerbelly at 11:35 AM on January 2, 2009

dpchallenge is also very good and has contests every week.
posted by archagon at 11:40 AM on January 2, 2009

They will go on to better things, I'm certain. (Or maybe they already have? Anyone know?)

Marshall, they moved on two years ago after the outster of Derek and the controversy that followed. They've moved on to better things (Heather still ass-kicking at Flickr and Derek was working on a new thing called magcloud that he mentions on twitter every so often).

I honestly think JPG would still be around if the co-founder wasn't kicked out.
posted by mathowie at 11:51 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

No doubt Paul will delete all the published issues and then claim JPG never existed.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:52 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ah, forgot crowdsourcing.
posted by Eideteker at 11:53 AM on January 2, 2009

mathowie, you could be right. Without Cloutier's change in direction (which he handled horribly, deleting the first six issues until an outcry forced him to restore them), the site, at least, might have been able to keep going.

The JPG thread at TechCrunch has some interesting comments about problems with the magazine's business side and the future of print, along with some predictable grave-dancing.

The Insquisitr suggests that overstaffing may have played a role in JPG's demise. probably won't do any good, but it's a nice thought. Actually, the best use for that domain name might be as a repository for the photos that have been published in the print magazine, arguably the best of the site.

While it's true that in some respects JPG resembled Flickr on a good day, that's not necessarily bad. If you know where to look on Flickr (hint: stay away from the "interestingness" winners), you can find some amazing photos. The same is true at JPG. Here are some of my favorites from the site:

By Tyron Ryan Cruz: Two Filipino guys show that you don't need perfect teeth to have an infectious smile.

By Quim Fabregas Elias: a beautiful portrait of a sad 15-year-old bride.

By Derrick Chang: A Chinese soldier gets his lipstick touched up.

By Jeremiah Ridgeway: the photo essay "From the front" in Afghanistan. The guy in the main photo just looks like he's freezing his ass off.

By David Nightingale: a moldy TV at the seashore.

a photo by Jason Hanasik: A tattooed U.S. Navy sailor looks like he's about 14 years old.

By Derek Powazek: A dog's butt becomes abstract art.

By Carl: Rain at White Sands, N.M., created a bizarre landscape.

By Natalie Wells: A landing jetliner flies so low over the beach St. Maarten, the photo almost looks fake.

By Danilo Piccioni: a woman and her laundry. Just makes me smile.

By Lane Hartwell: a photo essay on the East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club. Lane, by the way, provided some evidence on her Twitter feed that JPG was more than a soulless corporation, as some think:

"I also very much appreciated the gesture that JPG made after Nate of the EBRMC died...they printed up extra issues and some prints for me to give to the EBRMC and their families. It was an unexpected, generous gesture and meant alot to me and the EBRMC. thank you! ... yeah, I don't know of many publications that would have taken such an interest in the personal lives of their photogs or subjects
posted by diddlegnome at 1:03 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: a dog's butt becomes abstract art.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:23 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

echo target writes "What is a good place to go for feedback, if not exposure, on your photos? Flickr seems pretty much useless if you want more than 'i liek the colors' from your feedback."

Eh? I guess if you don't put anything into it, but flickr has vast numbers of groups dedicated to any kind of shooting that suits your fancy. You can join up with any number of groups and get great feedback. If you can't get useful feedback from flickr, you're really not trying.

As for interestingness, it's a useful tool. You can use it to sort tagged photos by 'most interesting' by tacking /interesting to the end of the url, eg
Meanwhile if you don't like the things that the algorithm sorts out, you don't have to use it. It's certainly a worthwhile effort, and I find (literally) interesting pictures with it all the time.

I signed up at JPG long ago and got bored quickly. If nobody had mentioned them going under, it wouldve taken me at least six months to figure it out on my own.
posted by mullingitover at 2:46 PM on January 2, 2009

It's too self-referential for me. I think the subscription base for this sort of thing is actually pretty narrow, although it's hard for people on the inside to realise this.

Once the tanking economy takes the Web 2.0 value-add meme down with it, the same could very well happen to Flickr: i.e. Flickr is supposed to be Web 2.0, but most subscribers beyond the hip early adopters don't want that, and find it to be confusing rather than exciting.

That is, if Yahoo doesn't kill Flickr with incompetence first; which would be a pity, as I have spent a lot of time there.
posted by carter at 4:03 PM on January 2, 2009

New blog post at JPG site: "... we have also received some interest from qualified parties who may be interested in acquiring the company so that JPG could live on." No details, but as the post's headline says, it's a glimmer of hope.
posted by diddlegnome at 9:31 PM on January 2, 2009

Archives are now available for free here:
posted by questionsandanchors at 5:41 PM on January 4, 2009

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