Sector Insights: Erik Vroons at the challenges of publishing the magazine today and how you can support GUP

Reading Period: 4 minutes

The particular Covid-19 pandemic hit the international photography magazine tough. Here, Vroons discusses GUP ‘s journey thus far, a new redesign, and how you can get involved

“People need to realize that if you really love print, you need to support it, ” says Erik Vroons, the editor-in-chief of GUP Magazine. “You cannot just stand on the sidelines cheering. ” GUP, which stands for Guide to Special Photography, launched in 2006. Based in Amsterdam, the award winning international photography magazine features a website and quarterly printing edition, running articles on established and cutting-edge image-makers such as Bieke Depoorter , Stephen Gill , Antony Cairns , and Diana Markosian (to name just a few recent interviews) as well as emerging talent. The particular Covid-19 pandemic hit GUP hard, as it did a lot of other platforms, and GUP ’s print version has been upon hold since September 2021. To help ensure the magazine’s next issue, and long term issues, can be printed, the particular organisation has launched a crowdfunding campaign , open now plus ending on 28 04 2022.

GUP redesign cover. Image © Marcus Schaefer.

Followers can choose from a variety of options. They could contribute as little as 10 pounds and receive a PDF version of the new issue, right up to 495 euros to join a workshop with Vroons and GUP ’s owner, Roy Kahmann, a photography extractor and founder of the Kahmann Gallery. The workshop will be held at in Amsterdam and features a variety of sessions, such as making a publication, building a portfolio, and presenting photography. Kahmann, that has spaces in both Amsterdam and Rotterdam, represents nearly 30 image-makers including Justine Tjallinks, Antoine D’Agata and Lorenzo Vitturi , and acts as an art dealer and adviser for business collections. The gallery proprietor got involved with GUP 15 years ago, simply because he thought it needed to exist, says Vroons. Kahmann’s goal isn’t to produce money from it, but at the same time, “it needs to not price him too much”.  

Kahmann connects with youthful talent through Kahmann Gallery LAB, and those emerging professional photographers are also part of GUP ’s lifeblood. Indeed, GUP has operate an initiative devoted to growing photography since 2012, entitled GUP New . GUP New is a catalogue of selected digital photography students from Dutch universities (including international students), and 2019 the programme was extended across Europe via a new publication titled FRESH NEW EYES . GUP ’s catalogues have occasionally run into controversy because the selected photographers have to pay 300 pounds to have their images featured in the publication. However , Vroons points out it’s free to publish work, unlike other competitions, and that the money helps pay money for the five catalogue duplicates sent to each featured professional photographer.

FRESHEYES cover. Image © Colette der Kinderen

FRESHEYES Cover. Picture © Kincső Bede

The double cover up will better serve the width of our audience, which range from people mainly interested in what is happening in museums and galleries and upcoming guides, to a perhaps younger target audience interested in their peers, rising talents and all the latest trends that makes photography still such a hybrid and dynamic moderate. ”

Either way, the articles showcasing new talent featured inside GUP Magazine are independent of the content in the catalogues, and so are very much part of the future strategy. During its hiatus, GUP has been redesigned to include a new section: Fresh Eyes: Brand new Wave Photography Journal , this time devoted to emerging talent from across the world, within the same publication. This content will run at the back of the particular magazine and have its own front cover. Printed the other way up from the GUP articles – it is going to, in effect, be a second publication in the magazine.

“Over the years we have created separate websites for the magazine, for Fresh Eyes , for our internet store, ” says Vroons. “We needed a rethink to higher communicate that all these individual branches come from the same tree. We have always included new talent in the back of the journal, but as we already have the new Eyes brand, we thought of incorporating it, to high light our ambition to show emerging image-makers. ” He adds: “ The double cover will much better serve the width of our own audience, ranging from people generally interested in what’s happening in museums and galleries and upcoming publications, to a perhaps younger audience interested in their particular peers, emerging talents and all the latest trends that makes digital photography still such a hybrid and dynamic medium. ”

Portfolio ©  Sara Punt.

Portfolio ©  Sara Punt.

“Photography is still a very particular medium, separate to architecture or painting or digital media art. It’s nevertheless a medium you can determine. ” 

This commitment to helping new artists has helped to keep GUP firmly inserted in the photography ecosystem, alongside other factors such as opening the Instagram account to takeovers. Vroons is also a frequent participant on photography award juries and portfolio testimonials. GUP recently joined power with PHmuseum to candidate 10 entries for the deliberately inclusive Mobile Photography Award, for example , and is a media partner for the upcoming Belfast Photo Festival (02 – 30 June 2022). Vroons hopes that GUP ’s outstanding and specific role within the photography network will be the saving grace.

Vroons argues that photography is still an unique medium, even as it takes its rightful place within the wider art world. For him, because of this , magazines devoted to photography still exist, just as festivals devoted to picture taking still exist. “Photography is so cross types and dynamic, ” he admits that. “And if you pay attention to all those dynamics, then photography continues to be a very specific medium, individual to architecture or artwork or digital media artwork. It’s still a moderate you can define. ” 

spread from GUP. Images © Campbell Addy.

pass on from GUP. Images © Campbell Addy.

“It’s a niche business plus our audience is very exact, but also very widespread. ”

With that being said, printing and distributing a photography magazine is expensive. The number of people buying the print magazines have been impacted by the truth that so much information is now available online for free. The internet has afflicted on printing in much less obvious ways too. With all the increase of online retail, and the sheer number of cardboard boxes needed for packaging and deliveries, the price of paper will be significantly on the rise. It’s the predicament that has affected mass media outlets across the globe for years, as well as the pandemic simply exacerbated the difficulties. This uncertainty is area of the reason why most of its crowdfunding rewards are based across the offer of subscriptions, as they’re the most sustainable design for GUP , says Vroons, allowing the team to “know who your audience is certainly [and] which to make it for”.  

“It’s a niche business and our audience is very precise, ” he adds. “But additionally it is very widespread. Retail is simply too scattershot, we often receive email messages from other countries asking where to find GUP. It’s so much easier, if you want to receive the magazine, to subscribe. And it’s also better for us too. ”

Cover picture © Campbell Addy.

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance correspondent who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Newspaper, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Before heading freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP with regard to 15 years. She has furthermore curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You are able to follow her on instagram @dismy

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