Publisher Q&A: David Bram of Fraction 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 ninth in the series and features responses from David Bram of Fraction 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 and Jason Fulford of J&L Books.
Publication: Fraction Magazine
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
fototazo: What gave you the drive to create a photography magazine? What is the backstory on how Fraction Magazine formed?
David Bram: Fraction was initially created to highlight photographic work that was being made in New Mexico but also to highlight work that I liked. Fraction Issue 1 was in May 2008 and at that time, there was a lot of work coming out of New York City and I wanted to show the world that great things were being done in other places.
f: What is particular or unique about Fraction Magazine? What separates you from other publishers?
DB: First, I hope the quality of work stands on its own. I am very selective about what is included in each monthly issue. Second, since January 2010, Fraction has released a new issue on the first of the month. There are very few, if any, online photography magazines/websites that can claim such a rigid schedule.
f: What is your process for deciding what to publish from the submissions received?
DB: I look for work that is unknown and moves me in a way that makes me want to show the Fraction audience. One of several questions that I ask photographers is where has the work been shown and who they are the represented by. If the work is of interest to me and has not been shown on any of the big websites, I will most likely include it. And to be honest, most work that I feature is from work that I find on my own. Fraction currently has an open call for work, but that will most likely close in the near future.
f: How do you view the contemporary landscape of photography publications as a product and as a market in relation to the past?
DB: As with all media, the Internet and it's related devices (iPhones, iPads, computers, cell phones) have changed the way we see and communicate. I can't remember the last time I picked up an actual print magazine, other than if it was delivered to my door (PDN).
Every couple of months it seems, a new online magazine appears and then a few months later, after the publishers, editors and content providers realize how much time and work this takes, it is gone. There are just a few of us online magazines or sites that continue to push on and show work that excites us. Plus, being around for almost 4 years while continuing to provide exciting, fresh content, gives me and Fraction credibility as a resource for great new work.
As far as being a "market," I do know that books, shows, and print sales have occurred for photographers after their work has been seen in Fraction. This is a prime reason why I do what I do. I want things to happen for the photographers. I want things to happen for me.
Also, buyers and collectors are now comfortable with buying work online, especially after discovering new work in places like Fraction. Every December, Fraction has something called a Holiday Print Sale, where every photographer who has been featured has the opportunity to put up a photograph and/or book for sale. Fraction then promotes the event, and the photographers get 100% of the sale. This is my way of giving back and saying thank you to the photographer for allowing me to show their work. In 2011, more than 150 prints were purchased via the Fraction HPS. This was amazing.
f: How has working on publishing Fraction influenced your personal work and your aspirations in photography?
DB: I think about Fraction 24/7. I am constantly working on it and thinking about what to do next. I am fortunate enough that I get to look at a great deal of photography, and lots of it stays in my head. I sometimes will make a photograph, go home, download it and then realize that it looks just like someone else's. This can be really difficult, especially when I am working on my project "Three Mile Radius" or "Vehicular." I just go on making the work and will make the final edit when I feel the time is right. Fraction has also opened doors and made connections that might have been very hard to do without it.
f: What has been your highlight in working with Fraction?
DB: There have been several. Receiving the Rising Star Award from the Griffin Museum in 2010, being asked to do portfolio reviews in Moscow in 2011 with some of the best curators in the world and then curating a show in China in 2011. But probably the biggest and most exciting part of Fraction is releasing a new issue each month. I get really nervous about it. I am very proud of what I have accomplished and whose work is included.
f: What is next for Fraction?
DB: In the past, I have publicly announced a few plans that have yet to materialize, so at this point I don't want to reveal any of the plans for Fraction.