esterday I read about I.D. magazine folding after 55 years in print, and it saddened me. It made me think of many important publications no longer in circulation in tangible form. One such worth mentioning is Camera, a magazine that commenced as a camera review out of Lucerne, Switzerland in 1922, and later distributed around the world in multiple languages as a vanguard in almost every important period in photography.
It was interesting to learn that the magazine’s high-quality prints were produced on a dull-finish semi-matte paper using a sheet-fed gravure printing process, a process that involved engraving the image onto a copper cylinder for use in a rotary printing press. That was part of what made Camera so special, its attention to detail and quality output. It was also among the first to feature work of now-known photographers such as Robert Frank, Edward Steichen and Jeanloup Sieff. With success spanning from its inception well into the early ’70s, it’s unfortunate that the takeover by the Ringier printing company in 1973 derailed the magazine’s reputation in less than a decade’s time. Having no interest in the magazine, the new owners decided to switch the printing system from gravure to a cheaper two-color duplex offset system. Ringier also withdrew promotional support instead of ending the magazine altogether, hoping circulation would dwindle to a halt. Instead, Camera pressed onward until 1981 when Ringier decided it was not in the company’s interests to keep the publication alive.
The various covers above evoke certain emotions that I wish I could have experienced as a kid growing up in the ’60s or ’70s. Instead, I was born in the ’80s and am now bequeathed with either dusty back issues or digital glimpses of the past. Not that I’m complaining; the ’80s had its own magic that I adore. The thing is, even knowing soon enough that all the world’s books and publications and even leaflets will be digitized and indexed for consumption will not appease what I miss about tangible media. It probably never will. On an endnote, the Camera logotype is simply lovely, and the first cover (my favorite) is ten kinds of wonderful.