As the oldest continuously published photographic periodical in the world, The RPS Journal has the weight of history behind it. As the membership magazine of the Royal Photographic Society, it is held to an extremely high standard, ensuring it earns its place in the art and profession’s unfolding story. Equally important is the ability of the monthly Journal to respond to the changing needs of the RPS and its membership – and to appeal to a growing worldwide community of image-makers. As the RPS recognises the impact of new technology on the world of photography and works to ensure it is a more inclusive and welcoming organisation, the Journal has carved out a stronger identity.
The magazine offers a fusion of excellent journalism and innovative design to showcase the work of some of the world’s most exciting image-makers. Over the past year, Editor Kathleen Morgan has worked closely with Art Director John Pender to offer readers a bolder, more arresting, relevant and confident Journal, with spreads that demand to be pored over. One such example is the article ‘His Spirit is Unbroken’, telling the story of Shahidul Alam, an honorary fellow of the RPS imprisoned without charge for his human rights work in his homeland of Bangladesh (RPS Journal, Jan 19).
In January 2019, the RPS moved to new premises in the Paintworks district of Bristol, enabling it to stage major exhibitions for the first time in decades. It has since exhibited the work of groundbreaking photographic artists including Mandy Barker, whose beautiful and shocking images of found plastic graced the cover and pages of the Journal in April 2019, and Jack Latham, whose current exhibition asks questions about crime and justice.
With the new public space has come the opportunity for related talks, workshops and conferences. The Journal has reflected this with innovative content, including a special edition celebrating 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing – and including interviews with legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin and contemporary artist Monica Alcazar-Duarte.
While celebrating the work of established luminaries such as Stephen Shore and Vanessa Winship, both Honorary Fellows of the RPS, the Journal is also exploring the work of emerging talent. This includes Laia Abril, author of the award-winning photobook On Abortion, interviewed at a time when events in the US and Northern Ireland made her work extremely pertinent, and South African visual artist Zanele Muholi, whose images focus on race, gender and sexuality.
The latest readers’ survey shows that RPS members enjoy the Journal as a monthly ‘treat’, a visual feast that helps them feel like they belong to a special group of people.
Member magazines can, and do, change perceptions. The number of readers rating the magazine as ‘excellent’ climbed by 179% following our relaunch and commercial revenue rose by 130% in year one. We’re proud of the fact 91% open and read every issue. As one reader said: ‘At last we have a Journal that makes us proud.’ The publication was most recently recognised for its incredible content, with editor Teddy Jamieson winning Writer of the Year – Specialist Magazines at the 2018 PPA Scotland Awards.