Jump to content

f2 is coming back home :-)

Recommended Posts

I already work on PDN-UK, Wim - it's called BPI News, and was/is produced partly with PMA behind it, and comes out 10 times a year as a kind of tabloid news-intensive thing for dealers and the trade (but missing the photographer element of PDN). I do the layout and prepress. It's not all that easy to get hold of except as a trade/retail controlled circulation. And... it often ends up with a woman on the cover, because the camera companies shoot the latest gear being held by said woman.


EC1 went down the route of putting faces on the cover, often girls, sometimes celebs. It didn't seem to improve sales for their version of f2, and I found many of the covers really off-putting as the editor seemed to have a liking for a dull or neutral type of photo (Taylor Wessing prize stuff? Artless art?) or for odd looking TV celebs. We are going for a square spine with title, and also for paper about 30% thicker than the heaviest rivals. Matt laminated cover. The look and feel will be at the top end. Same printer and overall spec as the cycling magazine Rouleur, if you have ever seen that, only A4 and fewer pages.


Had a meeting with an Alamy contributor who dropped in (well, he's our local news man) and my new ad manager today, complete agreement that this design is better - and returns to my pre-2006 concept of the big f2 top left of the cover. Design no 1 was felt to look too much like Advanced Photographer and a couple of other titles. As for the cover image, it's likely to be different every time rather than looking the same. And this magazine has to survive anything up to three months on sale, not a week. It's got to look good after several weeks.




And yes, you do see a test article on the cover for the Fujfilm X-T1, because we get one tomorrow!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ed, totally agree. Very inviting cover. Well used image now. Dropping that Fuji a bit so that *stream* (great find) leads you to it.

Title well recognizable now.


David, one hopes that that front copy has been sold in a week's time. Or has been rotated daily or in the worst case cleaned out on the weekly turnaround day ;-)

A really nice trick on a square spine is some image that stretches over the spines when displayed in the right order. A row of colours will also work, but won't show gaps.

Make it as thick as possible. However a very thick first number and consecutive slimmer ones is not a good signal to advertisers.

The mix is what makes PDN so attractive. It too started as sort of tabloid newspaper. Now over 30 years ago.


I would further test the typography a bit more. My expertise is a bit rusty in this field, but my feeling is that the number 2 is not as elegant as it could be.

There must be some room for improvement there. Some compromise is inevitable, because it also has to look good in digital of course. Now the number looks best at about 32 pt.

I'm not sure if the trick to get that Freelance to line with photo works all that well. It could become more of a stray jacket at some point. Imagine you have to shrink it to use it as a logo somewhere, say next to a page number or whatever: you couldn't go lower that a 6pt for the word freelance.

Well this is going into too minute detail here. If I weren't packing my backpack at the moment I would maybe try something out myself.

However rusty. ;-)


btw I just remembered another magazine sellers truism: numbers sell. Not the F2, but 10 ways doing this or 57 varieties, you know the type. This is all for the rack; the news stand of course. And probably gets a bit tired in 3 months ;-).




(off to the antipodes!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wim, it's for the news-stand but in tiny quantities and bi-monthly, so the popular articles or standard ways of doing things are not really needed - it is not trying to compete with magazines that give star ratings to cameras. I have used Myriad Pro as the typeface throughout the magazine without even a second font (unusual for me, I normally have a sans and a serif and then select something different for headlines). While it's not the most elegant font, it is particularly good for electronic devices and also when inkjet printed from a PDF (etc), being a font designed from the start for this. It has five weights, and that's how the 2 has been given a stroke closely matching the ƒ - a combination of changing point size and type weight. As this logo stands the words Freelance Photographer are floating, and have just been baseline-aligned with the cross stroke of the ƒ but could equally well be hung from it.


Inside the mag and for page numbers, only the name f2 is used. Originally in 1999 the mag was called Freelance Photographer. In 2004, I think, I changed it to f2 Freelance+Digital - the 2 being of course to signify second generation, and that it covered two areas. At that date you could not sell advertising, or market a magazine, unless it actually had the word 'Digital' in the title. Some agencies would not deal with any magazine which did not. We renamed Master Photographer, a perfectly good name for an association magazine, Master Photo>Digital. In the Netherlands they were lucky, the pro magazine (with many times the revenue and budgets of any UK mag, as the Dutch agencies are very proud of their standards and do not ask for cheap advertising) was (is?) called PHD or PHD+ which kind of sounded like digital as well as designer.


Now the agencies don't all want digital everything, nor do the readers - we all KNOW that photography is digital. Actually we could do well with an analogue photo mag, and I found one in 2012 on sale in Köln - great German magazine, nothing but real film photography. But there's not a big enough following in Britain for that. So we have f2, and the last owners stuck Freelance Photographer back on the name. We don't want to change the legal name so we will keep it, but f2 is what we call it.


The cover image is by José Ramos, who had a portfolio in Cameracraft which included this shot. José has turned out countless potential covers or posters from the Portuguese coast, almost all late afternoon or sunset. It's been a pleasure to see his work develop. This style is well known in the UK, where about 75% of me-too landscape photographers go hunting for what have become known as 'JCBs' - Joe Cornish Boulders - to stick in the bottom of their 20mm vertical beach/river/lake/mountain scenes. Difference with José is an exceptional use of colour and hardly ever looking for a predictable pile of stones (sure, he has some). He finds things like this ribbon of water instead. I find the predictable landscape covers of UK photo mags make me want to scream sometimes (not ANOTHER flowing water and Cuillins like the twenty similar shots used over the last 30 years for covers by the same mag...) but José’s pictures do not. I just find myself staring at them and completely drawn in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alan - why f/2.0? Point zero? I've always said f2, never f2pointzero or 2pointnought or anything like that. Also f4, f8, f11 etc. I think the 'point something' actually means lots of wrong things to photographers, a trend started by digital meters - my Minolta would read f11.6 when it really meant f14 - at least digital cameras generally do give correct f-numbers like f9, f10 and not say f8.3, f8.6. f2 is f2 and doesn't need anything apart from the integer! And I have no lenses marked 2.0 and 4.0 either - always 2, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 or earlier variations. The only time I see this is in Japanese specifications where they will often write F=85mm 1:1.4 when I would write 85mm f/1.4.


Where did the / go to in my magazines? In the early days of computing and typesetting, the forwards slash was an operator - divide by - as indeed it is in the f/x term. But it could actually do things, especially in programs which were really a kind of database pretending to be page layout. And it was also a 'break character' like a hyphen, and still is, so it was treated as a point where the line could be turned - you ended up with f/ on one line and the number on the next. So back around 1978, we started using just f2 or f8, and when I started doing my own photosetting, the fonts always contained an italic ƒ which was put there originally for music notation (at least, I think so - not for photography). So I adopted the use of this ƒ with the number - ƒ8, ƒ11. As far as I know I was the first to do so, as I was the first ever to use what we now call desktop publishing to set magazines (in the world - there was one book, called Whalesong, which appeared earlier as a trial for PageMaker, but I produced the first pageset periodicals ever assembled on a Mac). And those were photographic magazines. As first we had to send the files to bureaux, but in 1989 I bought a Linotype 100P with the surplus cash generated by moving from England to Scotland.


I do not know if other editors now use the same keystroke. It is almost intuitive. And it is not a break character, so ƒ8 always stays together, as a word.


On a similar theme, I wrote a Postscript font called Symbol New based on Apple Symbol with a stack of extra characters - little icons showing bellows camera, Hasselblad, SLR, lens cross-section, iris diaphragm. That was 1988 I think. I'm still using it, and you can tell our publications because these small graphic characters are used to end articles. What is amazing, really, is that an afternoon's work I did back then is still fully functional 26 years later - and that all the symbols are still recognisable as cameras or photographic!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.