Dear Streethunters.net Readers,
Today we will be reviewing a new Street Photography magazine called Street Sweeper Magazine. It was sent to me by Jaycee Malicdan, a California-based street photographer born in Yokosuka, Japan. Jaycee is the chief editor and founder of Street Sweeper. I have to admit that before receiving a copy to review, I didn’t know about this magazine. It turns out though, I was positively surprised when I skimmed through its pages and I enjoyed it even more one evening when I decided to go through it slowly and take in the photos, the layout, the design and the feel of the mag. But more on that later.
What is STREET SWEEPER Magazine?
So, Street Sweeper is a showcase for Street Photographers. You can read about the street photographers that it features on the official Street Sweeper website, or you can buy the magazine in either digital or good old-fashioned print format. Digital editions are much cheaper and for good reason, but if you are anything like me, you will want the print version of the magazine. At the time of this writing, Street Sweeper has only one issue as far as I can tell, but if you visit the online store of the magazine, you will find some more collections by Jaycee himself that are on sale.
At this point, I would like to share with you a letter Jaycee’s sent me, in which you can read in his words exactly what Street Sweeper is all about.
I find what Jaycee is trying to do with Street Sweeper very noble and it reminds me of our very own Streethunters.net mission. To promote and feature contemporary so famous and sometimes even unknown Street Photographers as much as possible and to introduce them to the world. The Masters will always be in the spotlight, but I strongly believe that the spotlight is large enough for everyone and all street photographers that work hard are worthy of the spotlight at least once in their lives.
Before I continue with the review, I would like to say that Streethunters.net is in no way affiliated with STREET SWEEPER.
Review of the STREET SWEEPER Magazine
According to the magazine editors, Street Sweeper “In Color” is a journey through the visible light spectrum. Collaborating with artists from 35 countries from around the world, they’ve gathered some of the best street photography today and present it to you with one common thread: colour.
Street Sweeper Magazine’s concept is to showcase street photographers, based on their photos’ colour palettes, as mentioned before. The pages of this issue are arranged chromatically. This means that they have sorted the contents by colour while at the same time providing a little context behind each artist. In Jaycee’s words:
“It’s a journey around the color wheel, taking you through our latest collection of street photography.”
If you haven’t quite got the concept yet, I will get more into it in detail in the section Organisation and content further down. As a (web) designer myself, I found the idea extremely interesting.
Before we move onto the actual review, I would like to say that I was pleasantly impressed when I received my copy because it also included some stickers, a 33% discount card and a collection of 6 stunningly beautiful postcards.
The photos of the postcards are all in the book as well. I think little details such as these put the reader in a positive mindset before opening the book. Sure, it is the oldest marketing trick in the book, but there is no harm in giving away something. Points for this!
Let’s move on.
The magazine/book has a thick matted cover with black as the predominant colour. On the very top is the name of the magazine (logo), in the middle, the volume and number information and at the bottom, the title of the issue “IN COLOR.” The quality of the print and the paper are excellent, the feel of the magazine in my hands is more than satisfactory, it is pretty great! Most of the text on the cover is white with very few exceptions, so it stands out and the title of the issue is in huge low relief shiny fonts that give it a sort of rainbow effect when you move the magazine from side to side in your hands. So from a material quality point of view, I think the cover is top-notch. Good work.
From a design point of view, I think the designers could have done a better job, especially when I compare it to the inside of the magazine, but more on that later. I find the design lacking in balance and symmetry. This feeling I have and can’t shake off is because of 2 design choices made by the graphic designer. The use of 3 different fonts that are all prominent in their own way, is one of them. It gives the magazine cover a more “mixed bag” look. The placement and size of the name (logo), taking up 3 lines, the description of the mag in the top left corner that seems as though it is just filling the gap created by the logo, the volume and number info cuddling the corner of the bottom photo and the magazine title, seem unrelated between each other. The second design choice that gives me a feeling of lack of balance is the placement of the 2 photos. The top left corner photo in my opinion just makes the name of the magazine harder to read, adding noise behind an already “busy” and not easy to read logo that has tight kerning and spacing. I would have preferred to see the “Street Sweeper Magazine” name on a simple black background. It would help it stand out more. The other photo, although not badly placed, could have occupied a larger portion of the page covering it from left to right, with the volume and number data at a bottom or top right-hand side. So the combination of the font work and the photograph placements, in my opinion, make the cover less powerful in comparison to the rest of the book and I honestly believe that it could have been designed better. I have mentioned it in the past, we all judge books by their cover and as a designer myself, I think the cover of a publication is the most important design work that can be done.
For those of you that have never read one of our reviews, I would like to mention that “shelf life,” as we call it, is the amount of time, duration, that a book will stay on one’s shelf before it is picked up again. The longer a book stays on the shelf without being picked up, the lower the “Shelf life”. The Street Sweeper Magazine “IN COLOR” has nothing to worry about in this department. I have found that the content is inspirational, with the exact amount of text vs photography, making it an easy and interesting read while at the same time offering a stunning selection of photos that in combination with the smart design of the inside pages, make it super interesting from various perspectives. So one day you might want to read up on your favourite photographers, the next day you will find yourself reaching for the book to see some cool photos and on other occasions, your interest in colour and design will be the inner forces that will have you asking for more. So, as far as I am concerned, this magazine/book has a good shelf life and I am pretty sure that you will wear out its pages soon enough, unless you are one of those collector types that like keeping everything intact, forcing yourself to read through a publications pages once and very carefully.
Easy to read
Handling the pages of Street Sweeper Magazine “IN COLOR” is normal and that is something I am deeply grateful for. Pages turn easily, the book feels good in my hands and because of the texture of the pages, my fingers don’t slip. I admit I need both hands to read it but at least I don’t have to use both hands, as I can keep the pages open, holding them with one hand, as shown in the photo below. If I choose to open the magazine on a table and read through it like that, pages do feel as if they want to close, but not in a sudden, “mouse-trap” way. It feels more like a reaction to me holding it down. The harder I press, the more it wants to close, but I think this is only natural. Its weight is satisfactory, it feels good in the hands. The book’s content is clear and to the point, floating firmly within plenty of white space to make it stand out as it should. All in all, I find it easy and enjoyable to read.
Organisation and content
This is where this magazine shines! Ever since I opened Street Sweeper Magazine “IN COLOR” I wanted to sit at my Mac and write these lines. I got so excited with its simplicity and design that I just couldn’t wait to share my enthusiasm with you. This is also why I was not so thrilled with the cover, as I mentioned in the section “Book Cover.” I was so positively surprised by the pages that I couldn’t help but wonder why the designer(s) didn’t put the same effort into the cover page (and back cover page, for that matter). But let me explain why I am so excited about the organisation and content.
Once you open the book, you are greeted with a lovely comic-like play on words and a photo of a person actually sweeping the streets. Just from this, you realise that you are in for a creative ride. Then follows an intro, some other details concerning the publishing team, etc., a mention of the collectives that participate in the book, and then on page 9 you find the table of contents. Creatively designed with a combination of colours, you get a table of contents for which the only reference is colour!
How does this work? Well, as soon as you move to the next page you get the picture. You are welcomed with the first image by Marc Erpelding from Luxembourg titled ‘Green Legs”. You will quickly notice the nicely laid out inside page, with a large photo, a little bit of text that is just the right amount, and a colour palette! That colour palette gives this book a whole new level making it so much more interesting to browse. The right-hand pages of the book offer some additional info. Namely in the top right corner, you get the colour index represented in the table of contents, and in the bottom right, you get the name of the issue and the page numbers for both open pages, left and right. But the organisation of the content doesn’t stop here. If you jump to the end of the book, you get an index based on location and an alphabetical index. This will satisfy even the most demanding “data miners” such as myself.
So, hats off to Street Sweeper Magazine “IN COLOR”! Nice job! I have only one comment concerning content. I found some photographers had “double exposure”. I don’t know why. I feel that instead of sharing more photos by one photographer, you guys could have shared another photo by another photographer. There is certainly no shortage of talent out there!
I have nothing bad to say about the quality of the magazine/book. It might not be up there with some expensive publications released by big publishing houses, but it still delivers. As I mentioned before, the pages feel nice in hand and so does the magazine as a whole. The titles of the pages are clear and prominent; the fonts used for the content are super crisp, large, and very easy to read. There is no overlapping or hard to read content. Everything is laid out nicely, helping the reader have a pleasant experience by immersing into the content without feeling that the design is in the way. The print is of good quality helping with how the colours show and the blacks are black! The paper used for the book is 106 lb., matte, it is 8.5″ x 11.0″ (22 x 28 cm), which is the standard US letter size, and all pages are perfect-bound.