Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952-1976
Shortly after Maureen and I were married, we were talking about photography magazines. Because we are both photographers, it was a natural topic for us, but we were both surprised that neither of us subscribed to any photography magazines — for exactly the same reason. We were both far more interested in photographs than in cameras. Maureen then asked me a fateful question: "What would the magazine look like that you would subscribe to?" It was an easy question to answer — I pulled out a single copy of Camera Work by Alfred Stieglitz and the dozen or so copies I own of early Aperture magazines from the late 1950s when Minor White was still editor and driving force behind each issue. To this day, I still re-read them from time to time. What a wonderful and creative vision White had! Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to disparage Aperture in today's iteration, but those early issues were something particularly special.
As Maureen and I talked more about the crop of photography magazines available then compared to Stieglitz' and White's ideas about photography publishing, the seeds of LensWork were born. Clearly, we didn't invent anything, but I do like to think that we might have picked up a torch that Stieglitz and White had lit and carried a long, long way.
Aperture has released a terrific new volume paying tribute to those early issues of theirs and celebrating the Minor White years. I think it is a must-have book for every photo library — especially because the original Aperture issues from those years are so rare and now expensive collectibles. In this single volume you won't find the entire contents from those years, but it is a substantial collection that does more than simply highlight a few high-water marks. It's beefy — 455 pages — and a fabulous resource with wonderful reproductions, articles, and historic content.
If you've never seen the early Aperture issues, you have a real treat ahead of you. Even if the current editorial direction of today's Aperture is not to your liking, anyone who is a fan of LensWork will find a great deal in these earlier issues of Aperture to learn from and enjoy. For less than $30 this is a wonderful volume that will provide you lots of inspiration and hours of enjoyment.
I know it's probably odd for us to recommend a book from a publisher some of you might think are our competitors, but I've always thought of Aperture more like a bigger brother than a rival. Even if we have some "sibling rivalry," anyone who champions images over gear deserves our respect and admiration.