by Patrick Ilagan . March 20th, 2015
A zine is self-published literature made by one or a small group of people. There are a variety of ways to make a zine, and it can be done manually or digitally. Production wise, Zines are often produced by having a master copy printed at home and have it photocopied. With color photocopiers and printing methods becoming more and more affordable zines not only boomed but also become more and more diverse in terms of production. Not only that, but with the help of internet, fostering communities of like-minded individuals, it is a perfect time to try self-publishing as it goes hand-in-hand with the digital age. There are many tutorials all over the web on how to make a zine but as a photographer what are the benefits of making a zine? And how can it help you on your photography? What are the other reasons you as a photographer should take the time, money and energy in producing a zine?
Make your images tangible! Think of it as having a portion of your portfolio printed. Zines also provide another avenue to publish your work with a little effort, money and time. In fact some zines have earned cult status and have become highly collectible art objects!
Zine culture thrives on sharing. Putting your work in printed form and giving it away to people can also help you get feedback on your work. You can show people at conventions your zine and quickly ask them on what do they think about your images. Apart from that there are countless websites, message boards and forums wherein you can promote your zine!
People are keen on supporting what they like and most especially love. Coming up with a well put together zine not only gives you credibility but also a following. Sure, the Internet does help you gain a following. But one thing that separates your internet followers is that people who bought a copy of your zine like your work to the point that they willingly shelled out a few notes to take your zine home and enjoy it.
Whether you are giving your zines away, swapping them or selling them, many zine publishers advises newbies to put in their contact details or at least a website. But what makes it better is that there are countless avenues wherein you can distribute your zine. You can distribute it at zine conventions or give it to distros (zine distributors) and even libraries!
Best thing about zines is that your are in control of what you want to show. Many photographers make zines and use them to quench their artistic and creative thirst. You can go crazy with your photos by mixing them with other media but more importantly it can give new purpose to images you did not use before and turn them into something else.
How about curating a photography zine? Or how about challenging fellow photographers by setting a specific theme? Looking through at how they address the challenge is one way to learn photography and expand your aesthetic horizons. Curating a zine not just offers invaluable creative insight but also a way to find friends you can collaborate with in the future!
As I have mentioned in number 4, zines are like your better version of business cards. If people found or bought your zine from distros or have gotten them from libraries, chances are they would take a look at the URL you included in your zine.
If you want to know more about zines you can check out this link from Undergroundpress.org on the 401 about zines and how to build one. You can also check the zine subreddit and the We Make Zines website to know more about zines and the culture behind them.
Patrick Jude Ilagan is a graphic designer/photographer hailing from the vast jungles of urban Manila. Always on the look out for visually appealing stuff he scours the internet and the bustling city in search of inspiration. His tools for mass creation is a Canon 500D along with a wide array of lights and lenses plus a 4 year old (but still fighting) laptop. Check out his work on Tumblr.
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