Brooks Jensen of Lenswork.
I was like a kid in a toy shop when Brooks Jensen agreed to join me on 'Photography: Live and Uncut'. Brooks Jensen is probably the most forward thinking person I've come across in photography.
If, to set up and publish a magazine (which he prefers to call 'Books') on photography projects, rather than photography skills and gear - without advertisements - was not innovative enough, but then to take Lenswork on into the 21st century by continuing to offer more and more content, using the wonders of the internet available today, is to my mind a wonderful ability of forward thinking almost entrepreneurial you might say. And what more the Lenswork 'book', the printed version, is as popular as ever.
During a discussion over "What photo magazine do you subscribe to?" with his girlfriend at the time, (which as it turned out they didn't, not to any) they decided to create one. One that was similar to what they had seen before. But this one would be on 'Photo' projects and have no advertising, Instead working on the content and hoping that, would be enough to entice readers to subscribe. Printing costs were extortionate, so they decided to create it themselves! Now, I have a limited experience of the print industry and even less knowledge of publishing, but, to set this up and then to decide to 'print' it themselves, well it's truly mind boggling to me. Neither had any experience of printing or knowledge of how to use a print machine but that did not deter them into buying a press and producing a quality 'book' on photography projects. One which, as time has moved on has won many awards in North America and is subscribed to by many photographers around the world. Let me say being a subscriber to the magazine, you can tell each publication is a labour of love and is produced to a very high standard.
Now many people would say "Ok I've got a great little 'book' going our each month, that will do nicely". Not Brooks. Brooks is a photographer who fell in love with photography when he had to make some images for a science project. That changed everything. Photography took on a whole new meaning from then on, he was hooked on the creative process of image making. So with time and his experiences what better way than to share this knowledge, which Brooks decided to do by recording it and post it as an audio, on the internet! Yes Brooks really started the Podcast, probably even before Apple thought of the word. What follows? Apple creates iTunes and the Podcast was born and Brooks just simply uploaded his audios. He now has recorded over 870 'weekly' episodes of his show. (That equates to over 16 years by the way!) More than any other podcaster on the planet! Realising that technology is not going to stop but get deeper and deeper into our lives, he embraces it and opens up the Lenswork 'Book' to those that prefer to use the computer with a PDF on a CD, with audio interviews and colour images, something that the 'book' doesn't have, because of Brooks 'love of the mono image'. Not stopping there he finally takes it a stage further and publishes the 'book' for the Tablet users. And the future? Well its content content content, as Brooks would say.
To have the forethought, the realisation of knowing how to expand your business at a given time. Moving from the simple but effective printed version through to the technological advancement of using a tablet to read articles, news and of course books. Even then Brooks does not stop. He then develops the Lenswork website for subscribers, opening up the whole "pandora's box' as I described on the show, but to be truthful an Aladdin's Cave would of been a much better or preferred example to make! Go to lensworkonline.com to see what I mean. A pleasant word of warning! Please make sure you leave a trail back, as you might get lost in the World of Lenswork - Interviews; tutorials; folios; books and Oh! Some fantastic images as well.
And do you know there is still more? Yes! Brooks now goes out in the field so to speak with a roadshow. Making seminars and taking time to discuss prints with photographers again passing on his knowledge and expertise on what makes a photograph. And his latest venture the production of 'Monograph' a quarterly 'book', dedicated to a photographer and a given project.
That's what makes Lenswork so successful and that is what makes Brooks Jensen a fascinating person to speak to.
I hope you enjoy the show.. Until next time 'Leave your camera bag at home'
Here are the all important links.
Photography Live and Uncut - Episode #29 : with Brooks Jensen
The website for Lenswork
Website for Brooks Jensen