I keep hearing about magazines shutting down this year. First there was the announcement that Bike and Powder magazines were shutting down permanently. I first started reading Powder magazine in the 80s, when I really became obsessed with skiing. I was a kid in Michigan, skiing at places like Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, and Mt. Brighton; places with less than 300 feet of vertical. All we really had were jumps and bumps. Reading Powder was as close as I could get to skiing in the mountains. When I started reading Powder, it was a refreshing alternative to the other ski magazines of the time. It was all about the soul of skiing, in my opinion. I loved reading the stories of skiing in places that seemed exotic, and photos that I would cut out and stick on the walls. By the time I left for college, I had quite the collection of back issues in the closet.
After living a year in Colorado, skiing at Crested Butte, I returned to Michigan broke, and with a new found love of mountain biking. Though Michigan was no Crested Butte, the trails in Michigan were a lot of fun. I got a job as a mechanic at the local bike shop, started mountain bike racing, joined the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, and became as obsessed with mountain biking, as I had been with skiing. This was in the early 90s, and a few years later Bike magazine was introduced. Like Powder, it was different from the other mountain bike magazine offerings. The writing and the photography were top notch. My favorite column was the Grimy Handshake by Mike Ferrentino. There was one story about trying to remove a U-Lock from bike, with a large hammer. We passed that story around the shop, all of us (except the owner) laughing hysterically with understanding.
Over a period of a few years, I had many photographs in Bike, including several that graced Mike’s Grimy Handshake columns. I did a couple of assignments for Bike, and was even listed as contributing photographer for a (very) short time. Many of the photographs, of mine, that ended up in the magazine were quirky, and/or black and white. They were photographs about bicycling, but usually not the spectacular or exciting ones. I was, after all, in Michigan. At this point Bike magazine was really embracing the new “freeride” culture, of which I was not part of, nor had access to. I was already old-school, in sport that was still pretty new.
The sport changed, the magazine changed, and I changed. Eventually I stopped providing images for the magazine, and moved on to other work. The same thing happened with skiing. The sport changed, Powder magazine changed, and I changed. I stopped reading Powder years ago. Still, when I heard that the two publications were ceasing publication, I felt sad. It’s a sign of the times, though seeing as skiing and mountain biking are so popular I thought they’d stick around a bit longer. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about the years in which I read each copy of both publications from cover to cover, and have dug out a few of the Bike issues in which my photos were used. You may notice, sometimes they spelled my name wrong…
As I listened to an interview with Steve Casimiro (formerly of Powder and Bike), editor of Adventure Journal, I thought about another favorite publication of mine, Smith Journal. Being the distracted human I am, I navigated over to the site, to see what was new. What was new, was news that the magazine was shutting down. I found Smith Journal, somehow, back in 2011, and they somehow found me around the same time. They subsequently published another post featuring my Small Churches project. The magazine itself was gorgeous, and something I would have loved to put out myself. The topics were interesting, and often obscure, which is right up my alley. Fearing the site itself may one day disappear, I’ve at least taken some screenshots. I’ve learned, in this internet age, nothing lasts.
Finally, I recently found out Photo District News (PDN) is also shutting down. I’m a little less nostalgic about PDN going away. I was in the magazine, and/or on the website a few times, but I always felt like PDN acted as a gatekeeper for the commercial side of the industry. I generally don’t like gatekeepers, and while I did subscribe for a year, or two, I always felt a bit uneasy about their place in photography. That said, like Bike and Powder, I thought PDN would be around for awhile, but then the younger photographers have found new ways of doing things, and I think PDN was somewhat of a holdout to a bygone era. That era being a time when gatekeepers could somewhat dictate who was, and was not in the club.