U&I is the Photo Magazine for You and Me


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Photography: Courtesy U&I Magazine

Showing your photos to the public these days takes nothing more than an Internet connection and a website. Of course, you still have to let people know you’re there, but photographers no longer need to rely on agents, publishers and gallery owners to display their work.

That easy access to exhibition though carries a price: if anyone can show their pictures, the value of being seen drops. And then you have to be spotted among the millions of other photographers battling to show their work.

The Value of Being Selected
That might be why seeing your photos in print still carries a cachet. Published images are selected, expensive (and therefore valued) and above all, impressive. Saying you have a picture on Flickr says nothing. Saying you have a picture in a magazine says that you’re a photographer, and that a publisher was prepared to back your talent.

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The demand among amateur and semi-pro photographers to be published is met in part by JPG Magazine, a print publication whose images are selected to a limited extent by online voting. But JPG Magazine isn’t alone. U&I Magazine is another print publication that’s open to anyone with a camera.

U&I however is the work of just one man. Taku Kumabe is a Canadian graphic designer and part-time photographer whose images have been used as a mural in Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel and in ads for Nortel. After creating an online PDF magazine for children, Taku decided to create a second publication for photography, one of his hobbies. This time however, he chose to use Lulu’s print-on-demand service to enable his magazine to be published at high quality without having to risk any capital up-front.

“Although online photo-sharing sites are great in that you can see and comment on other people’s photos, there is still something ‘different’ about having/feeling something tangible in your hands,” Taku explained. “ You can carry the magazine wherever you go, show your friends, families and others. There’s also the added thought about how your photos were selected to be in the magazine. While just about anyone can create a free account on any photo sharing site, only the ones that were ‘selected’ get to be published in a magazine.”

Taku currently produces the magazine on a seasonal basis, giving each edition a theme (the next is food) and highlighting the work of around 20 photographers. Submissions are made by email, ftp and through U&I’s Flickr group.

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Photography: Courtesy U&I Magazine

The magazine is not democratic (and once you get past the voting and its inbuilt bias, neither is JPG Magazine.) Taku chooses the images himself, reviewing each submission carefully, he says. As a small publication, the selection process remains a manageable workload for one person.

“I get submissions from everyday people enquiring about their photos, people who have just come back from a trip and have a photo essay they would like to share, or people who have done other photo-based projects, and others who feel like their photos should be published,” Taku says. “Chances are, if your images fit the particular theme, and I see something that catches my attention, then it will have a good chance of being published.”

You and I and Flickr
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of U&I is its use of Flickr. The magazine’s Flickr group has over 5,000 members and almost 50,000 photos in its pool. A regular place in the magazine is also reserved for “flickrVision,” a section that focuses on the work and people on the photo-sharing site. It’s sometimes happened that close Flickr friends have found their photos published alongside each other in the magazine.

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Photography: Courtesy U&I Magazine

Taku admits to not being a particularly choosy photo editor (“I do know the difference between a simple point-and-shoot photo and one that has been taken with more care and thought in the process,” he says) which might suggest that being published in U&I is not particularly difficult. The magazine’s finances however also mean that it’s not particularly remunerative. While contributors retain all rights to their photos, they are only “paid” with a free copy of the magazine and a discount on future issues. The real benefit comes from the potential of being noticed, the joy of being published and the effect it might have on a photographer’s development.

“For most people, I think it is the satisfaction of being selected and seeing your photo(s) in print,” says Taku of the benefit to photographers of appearing in U&I. “It may make them more confident in themselves, and motivate them to try harder or experiment more in this field.”

Seeing how one person can create a photography magazine might motivate them to do something else though… and start their own magazine. Not only would they get to choose the images, they could also guarantee that their photos will be published whenever they want.

Take a look at the U&I submission page here and tell us what you think.


One comment for this post.

  1. Damien Franco Said:

    I think what U&I is doing is great. I know way too many photographers that are fantastic but haven't had many images put into print (if any at all). I love to see real photographs in galleries and in magazines. To be able to display properly and to hold images in a publication is more rewarding than seeing them on a computer screen.

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