I’ve just finished reading the launch issue of Fade To Black Magazine, a quarterly magazine from the people behind the British Journal of Photography. It’s promoted as a magazine “dedicated to a new generation of image-makers who embrace the convergence of photography, video and multimedia” Olivier Laurent, BJP News.
Before I say anything else, let me first say I’m not someone who generally subscribes to digital magazines. I photograph predominantly using analogue and I’m a lover of print; when it comes to magazines I’ve always preferred holding them in my hand and more importantly, reading articles off paper (yes, I am aware of the irony given I write online). It’s also perhaps no small matter that many digital magazines I have looked at are lacking in some way or generally fail to hold my attention, either because of poor content or more commonly, poor navigation.
Now you know where I’m coming from, you’ll be able to appreciate the weight of the following words more: I love Fade To Black Magazine.
Why? Well what’s not to love? Engaging well written content; a wonderful balance of words, still images and moving images and just as importantly, navigation that is both intuitive and seamless.
I particularly like that the focus of the articles is on the creative and human story behind each of the projects presented. That is something which always appeals to me. I like to know how people come up with their ideas; how their projects took shape; who they engaged and collaborated with and what it means to them when their work makes it out into the world. One of the reasons I like this is because it highlights an important lesson; there is no ‘magic’ secret to success. Behind each project is a story of hard work and dedication, of people doing what they love and what they believe in; people constantly learning, adapting, and going out on a limb.
The launch issue (which is actually from Spring 2013) contains news and features on Tyrone Leborn, Reiner Riedler, Richard Mosse, Victoria Crayhorn, Elaine Constantine, Michael Najjar, Shaul Schwartz, Kelly Richardson, Christina de Middel, Thomas Leach, Ravi Amaratunga, Robbie Cooper and Raphael Lacoste. If that weren’t enough there are also previews and reviews of festivals, documentaries and films. It took me the whole afternoon to read but once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. I am now eagerly awaiting the July issue notification to pop up so I can devour another helping.
I’m going to bring up the navigation again because, living with a techie, I know just how hard it is to build something which feels simple to use. Navigating your way around this magazine is effortless and seamless. When you click on video content it plays full screen and when it finishes it simply shrinks back to the original holding position on the page. And should you find you don’t want to watch all the video, you simply click Done and away it goes back into its position. Links to websites are clickable and you can opt to open them in the app or in Safari. You always know which way to scroll (because it tells you) and in the unlikely event you get lost or if want to move around the magazine, you simply tap the screen and you have a full navigation option at the bottom of your screen. At no point is there any jumpiness, any crazy zooming in and out or any chance to get lost. It’s all, well, rather beautiful and I never thought I’d say that about a technological application.
There’s one bit of bad news: Fade To Black is only available on the ipad so if you’re an Android user you might start throwing your toys out of your pram right about now. I have seen a couple of unhappy comments from Android users online and all I can say to them is “Give the Fade to Black team a break” – launching a new product (especially one as high class as this) is no small feat and it has to start somewhere. Be patient and in the meantime, you’ll just have to borrow an ipad ;)
The launch issue of Fade To Black is available free from the App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fade-black/id605352564?ls=1&mt=8 Subsequent issues are released quarterly, the App subscription is £9.99 which is for 6 months at a time (2 issues) For more information go to http://www.fade-black.com/ or visit their Facebook.