Pros: Interesting articles, good photo-spreads, great special editions
Cons: Inconsistent design, cluttered, ugly ads, useless reviews
I got American Photo from one of those survey websites that offer rewards instead of cash. Amongst the rewards, you can choose from a list of magazine subscriptions that changes every once in a while. I chose American Photo as one of my subscriptions, not because I'm a photographer, but because I appreciate good photography. My main problem with this magazine: I AM a photographer (and a graphic designer, to make things worse).
Looking through a lens one can appreciate good composition, lines, use of white space, and use of color. Understanding photography goes hand in hand with understanding design.
I'm not sure how well American Photo's team understands design. Some parts of the magazine have a great, appealing layout, but this is usually restricted to the articles dedicated to specific photographers or movements/trends. However, some (if not most) parts of the magazine feel extremely cluttered. It's hard to tell what is or isn't an advertisement, although the ads themselves only comprise about 30% of the magazine. The ads are usually for photography equipment, digital editing software or photography contests. The magazine content that is comprised of reviews is so undefined and cluttered that is just blends in with the advertisements, making the magazine feel like an electronics store catalogue with some photospreads thrown in.
The articles I have read have been actually pretty good. They're often useful. There have been some great special issues full of important figures in the history and present of photography.
And the reviews? The product reviews featured aren't useful at all. They don't offer enough detail to make an educated decision. For product reviews, especially with cameras, I go online. On the internet, I don't just get professional reviews, but actual opinions and even examples of consumers using the equipment.
I don't think this magazine is for photographers. I think this magazine, at most, is perhaps a magazine for photography aficionados looking to buy their next camera or learning some basics about popular photographers, history and making it in the industry. To those I say: Get on the internet and keep searching, watch and read tutorials, reading, get a book, take a class, or get a different magazine. The world of photography is full of great, beautiful, inspiring magazines. This mostly isn't one of them.
88 pages (Excluding covers)
Bi-monthly (every two months)
Price: A 12 month (6 issue) subscription can go anywhere from $6 to $30.