Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A matter of Life and death

Life is dead. Again. Not for good, but probably forever.

Of course, many people probably didn’t know that the Henry Luce picture magazine was still alive. Its first run (the one that made it famous) was as a weekly from 1936-1972. Its second run as a monthly was from 1978-2000. Now it’s just a weak knock-off to Parade and a brand to be exploited, and that one will be gone after the April 20 issue. I loved how BrandWeek found this 2006 quote of the Time Inc. COO:

There are no plans to close Life now or in the future.
In retrospect, sounds like W backing Myers, Rummy or Gonzales, or George McGovern standing behind his (first) running mate “1000%.” But then Life sells to local newspapers, and, as everyone has noticed, the Internet is about to finish the job begun by TV forty years ago. If your customers are dying, then it’s hard to make a good business.

[Life, August 1969]The original Life had pictures from a stable of talented photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White and Alfred Eisenstaedt. Eisensatedt is perhaps best known for his picture celebrating the end of World War II. I best remember the magazine for a non-staff picture — the cover of the 1969 special issue that was the first time I saw the color picture of Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

When I was fresh out of college, I wanted to be a news photographer like David Hume Kennerly, who won a Pulitzer for his UPI work in Vietnam and then worked for Time for many years — but became a household name for his book and his work as President Ford’s photographer. Without business experience or training, in 1980 I didn’t fully appreciate that the glory period of still photography (roughly 1850 to 1970) was already past.

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