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Great British Landscapes

For your reading pleasure

in Recommended web sites , Friday, February 18, 2011

The online magazine Great British Landscapes was launched late last year, and has now reached issue 8. The brainchild of Tim Parkin and Joe Cornish, it is a very interesting hybrid between a traditional photography periodical (albeit at the higher brow end) and a blog. It is interesting that is was launched more or less at the same time as Advanced Photographer, both apparently in reaction to the somewhat mindless level of standard magazine fare - at least in the UK market.

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Great British Landscapes, Issue 8

The content is part free, part subscription, with several subscription models including an issue by issue one, which is a good way to test the waters (I’d upgrade to an annual subscription if only I could find out how to do it!).

The subject matter is essentially, and obviously, British landscape photography, an area of which both the founders are strong exponents. This style was recently lambasted by some commentators to Mike Johnston’s The Online Photographer, in response to a review of a David Noton book, as (for example) “the padding of a thousand amateur photography magazines” - and worse. Now that’s not very polite, and one could argue that they just don’t get it, or flame back with choice comments about eyeball-searingly dull and witless “art” photography ... but there is a kernel of justification in that viewpoint. So there’s a trap there which needs to be avoided.

I don’t consider myself a landscape photographer - although I’ve got all Joe Cornish’s books, and one of David Noton’s, not to mention Charlie Ward and the rest of the usual suspects - so I’m not unappreciative of it. I also don’t really consider myself British, although nominally I am. And as for “Great”, well…  So I’m not really in the sweet spot of the target audience. But I subscribed anyway, partly out of support for a valiant effort.

Initially it did seem to be playing a bit safe, and there seemed to be a few teething production problems.  Design-wise, however, it was a hit straight out of the box.  The site is very attractively produced and laid out, and highly readable. Extremely impressive work.  The initial subject matter was fairly predictable (you can see all Issue 1 for free), Scotland, Landscape Photographer of the Year, etc, and generally - and understandably - took a somewhat more conservative line than Tim Parkin’s blog.

One thing that in my opinion didn’t work, and still doesn’t, are the videos. Generally following a “masterclass” sort of format, I’m afraid to be blunt they’re pretty tedious. Way too long, and nothing that actually justifies the use of video. But to be fair video - essentially TV production - is a pretty hard nut to crack. I’d recommend they work with a videographer. Or maybe I need to acquire a better attention span.

As the issues started piling up, the content started to really take off, and with the last few issues it has pushed well past the boundaries of “a thousand amateur photography magazines” into something approach Ag territory, in quality terms.  Issue 6 laid into camera clubs with Tim Parkin’s entertaining rant on The Sacred Rule Of Thirds, Issue 7 has a in-depth and excellent article about Fay Godwin, and Issue 8 has a lengthy interview with Chris Tancock, a photographer who is actually well over on the “art” side of the field, and is himself not that enamored with the “Great British Landscape” school.

If anything the title could start to become a limiting factor in the site’s success. I would not want it to abandon its roots, but the editorial team has already clearly demonstrated that it has the intelligence and photographic education to step outside of the genre and examine it through other eyes.

I think I’ve gone on enough about this. If you haven’t already done so, you really should click here and make your mind up. For my part I strongly recommend Great British Landscapes. Well… maybe except the videos :-)



Hi - I didn’t reply to this at the time so a tardy thank you.. I’m also working on the videos, hopefully trying to create some more ‘punchy’ video content. However, one of the things that people have said they like is the fact that the video doesn’t seem ‘scripted’. It’s an open conversation with another photographer.

Perhaps, given time, I may be able to produce ‘edited’ versions while also allowing people to see the whole version. This would at least double the amount of time to create a single interview and with me only have four days to produce each issue at the moment, it’s damned tight.

The good news is that subscriber numbers are reaching a point where I can get up to 3 days a week and I can see me getting to four days a week working on the magazine next year. The general page upload and adminisatration tends to take about 3 days so going from 4 days to 8 days is actually going from 1-2 days in which to create content to 8-10 days (I’m happy to do related work at the weekends as well as this is a passion above all else). This means 400% more original content or 200% more content that is twice as good! possibly ;-)

By Tim Parkin, on August 10, 2011

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