Publisher Q&A: Christy Karpinski of F-Stop 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 12th in the series and features responses from Christy Karpinski of F-Stop Magazine. Previously published are responses from LavaletteMichael Itkoff of Daylight MagazineRay Potes of Hamburger Eyes Photo MagazineJeffrey Ladd of Errata EditionsBarry W. Hughes of SuperMassiveBlackHoleBryan Formhals of LPV MagazineLee Grant and Tom Williams of Timemachine MagazineJason Fulford of J&L Books, David Bram of Fraction Magazine, Daniel Augschoell of Ahorn Magazine, and Alec Soth of Little Brown Mushroom Books.

Publication: F-Stop Magazine
Location: Chicago
Format: Online

fototazo: What is the backstory on how F-Stop Magazine formed? What gave you the drive to create a photography magazine?

Christy Karpinski: I started F-Stop in the fall of 2003. At the time there were very few online photography sites that just showcased images, most were commercial oriented sites or tech sites. So my desire to see a lot of photography in one place motivated me to create the magazine along with wanting to share work I found interesting and inspiring.

f: What is particular or unique about F-Stop? What separates you from other publishers?

CK: I think what makes F-Stop somewhat different than some of the other online publications is it’s "group exhibition." I aim to include photography made by people who are new to photography as an art form as well as more established photographers, hoping to both encourage and support photographers at all stages.

f: What is your process for deciding what to publish from the submissions received?

CK: Most of the issues have a theme or an idea that is meant to guide and inspire the content. I like the notion that by putting together many images by many different people that have some connection to an idea, a sort of conversation can begin to happen. So when I am going through the submissions I am looking for a variety of images that speak to or about the theme in different ways ranging from "inspired by" to "right on." I am also looking for strong images, engaging composition and all that very subjective criteria that one applies when looking at photographs, but I really try to see beyond my own taste in photography and include things that push at my assumptions, but it is definitely still my point of view.

f: How do you view the contemporary landscape of photography publications as a product and as a market in relation to the past?

CK: I think maybe I don’t view them as a product so much as a vehicle / platform / method / way to show photography in a contained sort of package. There are images everywhere asking to be looked at and it can be overwhelming, where in the past it took a focused effort to find fine art photography projects and publications were the most accessible way (for me anyway) to see the work. I think now, the many different online publications with varying perspectives, become a way to navigate and narrow down the possible imagery to take in.

f: How has working on the magazine influenced your personal work and your aspirations in photography?

CK: I’m not sure if it has influenced my personal work directly, but I have at times chosen "themes" for an issue as a way to work out an idea by looking at other people’s photographs. I think also it has helped me keep perspective on having one’s work chosen to be included in something, I’m very keenly aware now of how subjective that process is.

Working on the magazine and interacting with photographers from all over the world has given me a very different sense of THE photography community. It is much broader than the one I experience live-and-in-person in Chicago, which for me is encouraging - that there is an audience for all sorts of imagery.

f: What has been your highlight in working with the magazine?

CK: I think the highlight has been each time I have met a person whose work I have included in the magazine, people from all over the world, its pretty amazingly cool to me.

f: What is next for F-Stop?

CK: Most likely F-Stop will largely continue on as it has. I have many ideas of things I would like to do or ways I would love to expand the F-Stop community but usually it comes down to not having enough time or the limits of my own design / technology skills.