Photo Life celebrates 35th birthday

With the release of its August/September 2011 issue, Photo Life celebrates its 35th anniversary. The magazine is available on newsstands now.

On a purely personal note, the publication’s history is one I’m quite familiar with, having been there at its beginning, although from the other side of the window. When it was launched, by a fellow named Michael Vlassis, it became the first Canadian consumer photo magazine. It was up against heady compeition on the newsstands, facing the likes of Modern Photography, Popular Photography, and a host of others from the U.S. In my opinion – and I suspect many others – it did not stand up to that competition.

My, how it has changed!

Photo Life‘s survival is remarkable. I won’t go into the machinations of what happened behind the scenes, with its several changes of ownership, but there’s no doubting it’s a far better publication now for all those changes in management and editorial oversight.

At the time Photo Life was launched, my soon-to-be-boss, Irv Brace, had been hounding our company’s management to launch a consumer photo mag. At the time, he was editor of Canadian Photography, a business magazine for the photo industry (which I later took over). About a week after Photo Life launched, our publication, Photo Canada, got its go-ahead. I was hired as assistant editor on both Canadian Photography and Photo Canada.

Photo Canada was a much superior publication than Photo Life, but because Photo Life initially played fast and footloose with its advertising rates, and undercut Photo Canada‘s prices, industry support for Photo Canada wasn’t as strong as it could/should have been. In the end, several years later, our company’s management cut the publication loose and sold it to . . . yup, Photo Life. Irv was not pleased, to say the least.

So, buried within every copy of Photo Life is a little bit of me, propping up its foundations.

I’ll have to look around and see if I can find that first edition of Photo Canada. I have it in my archives, somewhere.


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