South x Southeast : a new magazine
Untitled © Anderson Scott
Possum © 2004 Forest McMullin
Central Florida (Barnum and Bailey Train) © Warren Thompson
Gray, Tennessee © Mike Smith
May Van's Camp © Debbie Fleming Caffery, courtesy Gitterman Gallery, New York
SGT David Eastabrooks, 2011 © Ellen Susan
Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman © Terri Garland
Espejo barroco, Otavio, Ecuador, 1988 © Mario Algaze, courtesy Throckmorton Gallery, New York
Brooklyn Chapel, Greenwood © Magdalena Solé, 2011
Liz © Jack Spencer
South x Southeast (cover)
The parution of a new photomagazine is always a good news to celebrate, and in a time where publications cover more and more specialised markets, the idea of creating a platform for photography in the South and Southeast of the USA seems ripe.
In South by Southeast (SXSE) editor Nancy McCrary’ s own words, the magazine is “a labor of love”, born with a desire to help the photography community of the South showcase its talents, emerging or well established.
Started as an online publication in July 2011, SXSE has since added a tactile version with a quaterly print edition, condensing the best articles and columns in a format at the croossroad between a “magazine and a coffee table book”.
Curious to learn more about this endeavor, we reached editor Nancy McCrary for a Q&A.
SXSE photomagazine showcases fine art photography in the American Southeast. What would you say is specific about the South and Southeast of the United States?
Like other regions of the U.S. the Southeast has distinct qualities – with this much geography and history it’s difficult not to. Specific characteristics that come to mind revolve around the Civil War, still known in these parts as “the unpleasantness”; the quirkiness of people and traditions arising from a genealogical melting pot, is reflected in our arts, literature, food, manners, etc.; the genesis of blues and jazz, and our contribution to rock ‘n roll; and, not least, the beauty of the landscape.
How did you come up with the idea of publishing a photo magazine?
I have been in specialised magazines for a long time, everything from dogs to tattoos and I love what I do. It’s a business I understand. I grew up on the farm where I now reside, and as a child my mother was adamant that we, my sister and I, would be well-read – despite the fact that back then access to books and magazines was difficult in rural America. I started with a subscription to Highlights and moved on to Time, Life, National Geography and many others, growing up. I loved waiting for the mailman and chasing the bookmobile. So, having the opportunity to work in magazines as an adult was quite wonderful. My second love has always been art, with photography as a focus. It’s been my pleasure to serve as a co-director of SlowExposures, a photography festival celebrating the rural South, over the last eight years (http://slowexposures.org/). During that time, SlowExposures has received over 700 images annually for our juried competition, and we have been introduced to a sizeable number of talented photographers either from the South or who traveled here to photograph facets of Southern life. Over the years we’ve heard the same complaint from many of them: there are so few venues in which to show their work. Magazines can present work to a greater audience than any other outlet. From these thoughts, and more, an idea for a photography magazine focusing on each region came to mind.
You live an hour south of Atlanta, in a farm, with your family. How do you manage to be in touch with all the happenings?
Between high-speed internet, and a two lane highway that ends at the 5th runway of Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport in under an hour, I manage pretty well. The farm lies in the lower Piedmont region of Georgia, a beautiful part of the South, and a well kept secret. I love urban life, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate a blend of urban and rural.
You started publishing back in July 2011, with an online presence complemented with a nice quarterly, 80-page or so print edition. Can you explain how you decided to go with this dual format ?
Well, I did the smartest thing I could think of when pouring all my money into one pot, the oh-so casual dinner-party focus group of my most candid photographer friends, where everyone said print was dead and I would have to publish online. I don’t think print is dead at all, but it never hurts to listen. So, we decided to publish monthly online first, for economics as well as discovery. The print edition was still on the drawing board as to frequency, content, etc. After the first issue my blatantly honest focus group all said, “This is gorgeous, but when’s the print edition coming out?” So, in December, we began producing print, a composite of images from our first quarter. Our print editions are currently produced on demand by HP MagCloud. In reproducing other artists’ work we take quality very seriously, and what they produce is somewhere between a magazine and a coffee table book. A very good product, and at a decent price.
And, in addition to the print, all articles are archived online indefinitely.
You are covering new and emerging artists, gallery openings, you are showcasing work via videos, blogs, book reviews, technical novelties. Is this the recipe for engaging a wide audience?
Again, we queried our customers, a network of photographers on what they would like to see in a regional publication. Their answers revolved around all of the above, but they were consistent in their desire to see it all presented on a regional basis. They wanted a publication that would show them everything from upcoming gallery and museum exhibitions in this area, where to buy gear locally, to upcoming events within quick travel time for a weekend shoot, festivals and exhibitions , etc. I think the wonderful global awareness we have today has encouraged a wonderful grass roots awareness – a lovely sense of pride.
The original content evolve, sometimes in the space of a month, and will continue to as the publication grows. Along with all else you mention above, our two newest columns are “Notes from a Contributing Editor,” and “Collector.” Notes focuses on alternative process photography. Our readers are interested in alt-process, so besides chronicling the early history of photography we’ve had an interview with Christopher James, author of the series The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, as well as a dialogue with S. Gayle Stevens and Judy Sherrod who have built their own camera to make 20-inch by 20-inch wet-plate collodion tintypes. Our “Collector Column” interviews a photography collector in the region with questions regarding his/her collection as well as advice to new collectors and photographers.
Who are the photographers who have best represented the South, according to you?
The South has never had a shortage of creative talent from which to choose. That said, I would find it hard to answer that question without discussing Eudora Welty, William Eggleston, William Christenberry, Harry Callahan, and Walker Evans, among others. These are a few of the ones who just got it. They knew the South like the back of their hands and were able to convey that in a most admirable way. My generation has contributed to this league, also, in Shelby Lee Adams, Mike Smith, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Birney Imes, Keith Carter, Maude Schuyler Clay, Jack Spencer, Sally Mann, Chip Simone, Tim Barnwell, Shelby Lee Adams, Thomas Neff, and Dave Anderson. And the generation following us has some uncommon new talent such as Laura Noel, Kathleen Robbins, Eliot Dudik, Daniel Shea, Misty Keasler, Anne Berry, Sheila Pree Bright, Vicki Hunt, Joanna Knox, Anderson Scott, Phil Nesmith … I could go on and on. And thus … the reason for the magazine.
How do you select the photographers who will be published in your magazine? And how to you submit work?
Our issues begin with an idea – a season, a location, an event – and something organic grows from that each time. Each issue is like writing a little book. It can be exhausting, but is equally rewarding. Beginning this month, we are “outsourcing” a bit, engaging new sets of eyes to bring us what they see. We’ve lined up a series of guest curators who are either photographers, gallerists, curators, authors, or collectors who will each take the editorial responsibility for one issue. They will choose the nine to12 feature photographers, and either choose or make suggestions for the columns. In our May issue our guest curator was Jerry Atnip, someone who is not only a fine art and commercial photographer in the South, but a man who wears the hats of, designer, critical reviewer, mentor and supporter of the arts. The May issue is all about his hometown Nashville, and their world of fine art photography. From nine talented masters and emerging artists in our Features, to Nashville galleries and museums, books published by some of our featured artists, a collector’s interview, and a profile of an arts magazine. This is a formula we hope to replicate with other guest curators.
The June issue’s theme is of graduating seniors with either a photography major or emphasis, from Southern schools and universities. Texas, that curious blend of South and Southwest, will be the subject in July, curated by Steve Clark of the Stephen Clark Gallery. Gabrielle Larew of DOMA Gallery in Charlotte will curate our September issue. And October brings us to our political issue, with both Democratic and Republican presidential conventions being held in the South.
We do accept submissions of work. Please submit a link (not files) to: email@example.com. All photos must be the work of a photographer who lives in the South, or grew up in the South. Or, photography taken of the South by someone who lives elsewhere.
Can you tell us about what your upcoming plans?
We’re busy preparing the launch of the second of the four regional magazines we will produce in the next two years. We are also moving to a tablet format and a more frequent print schedule, while working on a redesign of the current issue and archival material at this time. The same illuminating and provocative editorial – just more of it, in a more accessible format.
Interview by Virginie Drujon-Kippelen
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