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Photo District News owners throw in the towel

Venerable American professional photography publication, Photo District News (PDN), is shutting down its print magazine and digital version after 40 years of reporting on the US commercial and fine art photo industry.

Most likely PDN’s last magazine cover.

Emerald Expositions, PDN‘s parent company, explained the magazine didn’t sustain an active and engaged audience compared to its other ventures – wedding and portrait magazine, Rangefinder, and the WPPI and PhotoPlus tradeshows.

‘The PDN online content will not vanish, and we’re looking for ways to ensure that what content there is will continue to be easily accessible, but there won’t be new content,’ a Emerald Expositions spokesperson told AI-AP.

The decision will allow Emerald Expositions ‘to deliver what our most active and engaged market was looking for, and that was more content and information around Rangefinder and WPPI. We also wanted to create a content platform that supported the PhotoPlus community.’

(In reality, the core business of Emerald Exhibitions is organising the WPPI and PhotoPlus trade conference and exhibitions. While Rangefinder assists in the promotion of the WPPI event, it appears PDN is no longer a fit with the portfolio.)

First published in 1980, the magazine was geared toward commercial and fine art photographers, and initially centred on NYC. Inside Imaging‘s editorial team often wandered onto PDN Online on the endless quest for articles, sources and inspiration. It kept a great record of US copyright matters and actually published interesting, well-written articles for commercial photographers. At times it sorta felt like real online photography-related journalism!

The PDN closure follows other quality photography websites and magazines, including online product review website Imaging Resource, Popular Photography Magazine and NY TimesLens Blog. A shame, really.

Many former US PDN readers commented the closure is no surprise given a noticeable drop in quality over the last decade, which led to them Unsubscribing. These former readers are ironically commenting on websites like Petapixel, an extremely popular online photography blog/news aggregator which rarely reports anything original. Unless given a hot tip, Petapixel is more likely to churn out articles like ‘70 inspirational quotes for photographers‘, or re-publish whatever is trending on Reddit forums.

So it appears the US-based online photography news sector is in a precarious state. At the top there remains a plethora of ‘rumours’ websites, the Amazon-owned DPreview, blog websites like Petapixel and Fstoppers, and a handful of podcasters and vloggers. Interesting times!

Australian photography publications have soldiered on in recent years, but the closures of quality US mastheads is a reminder that it’s tough out there in the specialist publishing market. The withdrawal of most advertising support for specialist publications from the big camera companies, as they sink their discretionary marketing funds into their own fanboy websites and ever-multiplying ‘ambassadorships’, has had a punishing impact on the quality and quantity of engaging third-party content for the photographic community. Instead those international businesses freeload on the reviews and product editorial the local publications provide.  (Just sayin!)

While Inside Imaging is free for readers, thanks to the generous support from a small and loyal pool of dedicated, mainly Australian-owned, advertisers, we encourage readers to support all the wonderful local glossy photography magazines – Photo Review, ProPhoto, Capture, Australian Photography, etc.

Oh, and please subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter! Strength in numbers, they say, so also feel free to also sign up your friends, family, neighbours and worst enemy.

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