Publisher Q&A: Daniel Augschoell of Ahorn Magazine
In October we posted a short, straightforward conversation with Shane Lavalette about Lay Flat, the independent publisher of limited edition photography books and multiples that he founded in 2009. The questions from the conversation with Lavalette have been adapted and given to 11 more publishers and editors that represent a variety of sizes, orientations, and audiences in the photography publication market - both on and offline. As a whole, the 12 posts aim to provide a snapshot of the current publishing landscape.
Today's post is the 10th in the series and features responses from Daniel Augschoell of Ahorn Magazine. Previously published are responses from Lavalette, Michael Itkoff of Daylight Magazine, Ray Potes of Hamburger Eyes Photo Magazine, Jeffrey Ladd of Errata Editions, Barry W. Hughes of SuperMassiveBlackHole, Bryan Formhals of LPV Magazine, Lee Grant and Tom Williams of Timemachine Magazine, Jason Fulford of J&L Books and David Bram of Fraction Magazine.
Publication: Ahorn Magazine
fototazo: What gave you the interest in creating Ahorn? Did you know much about the publishing world before launching it?
Daniel Augschoell: I came up with the idea of Ahorn together with Anya Jasbar during our university years in Venice. We officially started in 2008 with our first issue. We were following various photoblogs and websites for quite some time, and we felt the need to create a platform where writing about photography would be as important as the photographs. The magazine is our first publishing experience, so we could say that our knowledge about the publishing world was a self-taught process. We always followed our personal vision and taste regarding online publishing and didn't take any other web projects as a model.
f: How much different has the reality been from your expectations?
DA: It's always hard to start something from scratch when nobody in the business knows who you are.
When we started the online magazine, we always had the idea to do something also in print. This has been the most difficult part until now. We are still working on it and have to figure out which direction is the right one to take.
f: Where does the name Ahorn come from?
DA: The name Ahorn has essentially nothing to do with photography. It comes from our shared predilection for maple syrup, "Ahorn" being the German word for maple.
f: What is your process for deciding what work to publish and with which artists to work?
DA: For the solo-shows section, which highlights the work of four different photographers, we select the artists from the submissions we receive and from photographers that we find on the web or in photobooks that we encounter at various bookstores. For the other content, such as interviews, essays and reviews, I usually make an endless list of things I'd like to include and try to form a cohesive but nonetheless variegated issue. We also receive proposals for written pieces by photographers and writers that are very much appreciated. We cannot always control the outcome of an issue in its totality, as it is often that we are not able to feature everything we would like to.
f: What has been your biggest highlight so far with the magazine?
DA: Right now, I can't single out one biggest highlight. I'm very happy with how the magazine is evolving and becoming more challenging with every issue. It's great to exchange ideas with photographers we admire and learn new things every time. Of course, I'm also more than glad that the number of readers is increasing progressively.
f: How has publishing a photography magazine influenced your personal work and your aspirations in photography?
DA: I don't know if publishing a photography magazine has influenced my personal work in a direct way. Of course, I see a lot of work on the web so there's the risk of feeling overloaded with visual input, but when it comes to my work, I always try to forget everything, to free my mind. I try to keep the two things separate. On the other hand, it is always inspiring to see emerging photographers succeed in creating beautiful bodies of work. Running the magazine has surely augmented my enthusiasm for photography and my desire to be part of this world, be it as a photographer or publisher.
f: What have you learned through the process of creating Ahorn that you wish you would have known beforehand or that you would pass along to others interested in beginning a photography magazine project?
DA: Don't wait for things to happen. Take the initiative and contact the photographers you like. We learned that a lot of artists, even if very busy with their own work, are often very open to conversations. And maybe it doesn't always work out for an interview, but you can still learn a lot about how things work in the photography world.
f: What are your next steps with Ahorn? Where would you like to see the magazine be in 5 years?
DA: We are about to publish our 8th issue, and our goal is to create something special in occasion of the release of the 10th online issue. At the moment I can only dedicate a small amount of time to the magazine, because of course I can't make a living of it.
In five years I'd like to see it as an actual working place, maybe with an office/studio and collaborators. It would also be great to publish small photobooks or organize exhibitions or be surprised and do something completely different.