Eighty years after its founding as one of the first prosumer publications for the then-expensive hobby of photography, Popular Photography is ceasing both print and online operations following the next issue.
Modeled after Popular Mechanics and similar periodicals, many factors did them in: the confluence of phone cameras, the shift to video, the demise of print, the ubiquity of free how-to guides and consumer reviews, and tepid attempts to stay relevant as media moved from print to web to mobile.
Jeff Wignall, a photo magazine contributor for 40 years, told PetaPixel that management at parent company Bonnier was also to blame, saying the magazine's cause of death "is partly that the parent company just did not see the value of a photography magazine." He added:
Cell phone cameras, you have to admit, played a big part in this, but if Bonnier wanted to save the photo magazine there were ways to do it. Their website was very lame, they started it up at one point, and seemed like they had a lot of energy flowing into it for a while but that was several years ago. Then they seemed to have abandoned the website and the only way, ironically, for a print magazine to survive is if it has a good partnership with an online edition of the magazine. Without that there is a sort of breakdown in communication between the print reader and the online person.
Here is the winner of their final readers' contest, shot by Aaron Feinberg. The news gives it additional symbolism.